Booknik on October 15–21

Last week, Booknik finally emerged from the sukkah, changed from his frock-coat into coat-tails, celebrated two Davids’ jubilees, tried to eat Jerusalem, yet broke his tooth on a stone, attended the Frankfurter Buchmesse, read Koran in Swahili, learned the recipe of happiness, and rejoiced at the invention of brakes. Booknik Jr. studied Talmud rendered for children, sent out “letters of luck,” almost got lost in a crowd, and now carries Booknik Senior’s business card and a GPS device in his pocket.

The “Other” Side of Christian Converts
Jews of the Russian State, 15th to the early 20th Centuries, by Lev Berdnikov
The author debunks the traditional myth that the Jewish converts to Christianity became the enemies of their own nation by all means, and felt everything negative to it, ranging from indifference to hatred. The characters of his book are usually complicated, for the world cannot be black and white, no matter how we like this simple color scheme. Our contributor Yury Tabak summarizes the pluses and minuses of the book in his review.

The Jewish Lesson in the Ukrainian Class of the Paris School
Ukrainian Artists of Paris, 1900–1939, by Vita Susak
The eclectic atmosphere of Montparnasse simplified the national issue no end. The invitation to the Paris exhibition of the “Ukrainian Group” is filled with names of Blum, Minchin, Pressman, Ribak, and Mané-Katz. However, diverse personalities are hard to bring to a common denominator, Booknik contributor Mikhail Gold believes, and it is even harder to speak of philosophical or aesthetical “unity” of the Paris School Jews.

The Miracle Worker of Leoncin
The Magician of Lublin, by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Isaac Bashevis Singer worked in the tradition of the so-called “magical realism,” the genre that is more associated with Latin America nowadays. It is noteworthy that The Magician of Lublin has a wonderful monologue of the Jewish pimp about the Buenos Aires night lights, mate, and gaucho who are so lazy that they hack steaks with axes from living bulls, and fry them in their skins. Booknik reviewer Lesya Bobrova is magically enchanted by Bashevis Singer’s prose.

The Song Surface
The Triptych, by Sasha Sokolov
The most Triptych reviewers tend to believe they are dealing with the famous author’s fiasco. However, this is not so. By keeping distance, and keeping to his creative principles, speaking almost the bird language, Sasha Sokolov stages little tragedies for the elect. Booknik reviewer Denis Larionov prophesies great success to those little tragedies.

…and many other succinct successes in the Books & Reviews section.


Pictures at an Exhibition. The Report from the Frankfurter Buchmesse
At one of the most prestigious book fairs in the known universe, it is impossible to foretell the death of paper books. Neither it is possible to see the distant future where everyone reads from screens, or books are displayed in museums like Egyptian papyruses or clay tablets. Our Frankfurt reporters Olga Luk and Lidia Mirchevskaya were sent by Booknik to the Frankfurter Buchmesse where they gladly went, following their hearts’ beckoning. See what they saw there.

Good to Live in a Branch Shelter
Another Sukkot is behind us. Last week, our Israeli resident reporter Gali-Dana Singer walked the Israeli capital with her faithful thousand-charges Nikon, and we are proud to present her photographical trophies.

…and many other pictorial peeks in the Events & Reports section.


15 Facts about Ben-Gurion, the Man and the Airport
October 16 was the birthday of one of the most famous political figures of the 20th century. 125 years ago David Ben-Gurion was born. Our contributors Katerina Kudryavtseva and Masha Tuuborg were surprised to find out the Google believes that DBG is, primarily, an airport.

Five Hundred Ice Creams and the Hero of the Occasion’s Speech
Last week, another celebration took place, a bit more modest than David Ben-Gurion’s, but also noteworthy. We celebrated David Rozenson’s birthday. On Booknik’s behalf, our editor-in-chief Sergey Kuznetsov congratulated the hero of the occasion. Mazel tov, David!

To Eat Israel. The Journey of Two Gourmet Beginners
Only lazy people did not write about the Jerusalem café “Tmol Shilshom.” “The Book of Tmol Shilshom” is there among the antiquarian books they sell, which is the album and the collection of interviews of couples that had met there. To her surprise, Booknik reporter Natalia Belenkaya found her neighbors there, an Englishwoman and an American. They have managed to divorce since then, though.

From a Professor to a Loan-Shark
The holocaust victims were not only the people who die in Nazis hands. Those who had survived the war and succeeded after it, were also the ones. A lot of them felt they once had been prisoners, so they built their own prisons for them, like the protagonist of Sidney Lumet’s film The Pawnbroker (1964). Booknik’s film critic Irina Mak tells why the film had never been shown in the Soviet Union.

The Fourth Stone
The optimal size for one’s motherland depends on human body’s capabilities. Ideally, your motherland is you (for Adam Kadmon, for he is the Universe itself). On the other hand, if this land is larger than you, it should be accessible for a one-day hike. Booknik columnist Alexander Ilichevsky continues his journey through the capital of his historic motherland, from time to time throwing stones sending messages to his readers.

The Man Who Looked Happy
Two brief stories from Talmud Yerushalmi will allow you to master the deductive method in its entirety. It turns out, you do not have to be Sherlock Holmes to understand that if your acquaintance’s face is “lit up,” he is either a Talmudic scholar, like Booknik expert Reuven Kipervasser, or he drinks wine, or he is a usurer, or he breeds swine.

…and many other dedicated deductions in the Columns & Columns section.


Koran in Six Languages
Once upon a time, Booknik contributor Olga Gessen found a postcard with some strange text in a box of old photographs in a secondhand bookstore. It read, “Shalom. I combed through the entire city, and I found six more Koran editions, translated into French, German, Spanish, Greek, Latin, and Swahili. There will be the day when you could use them. With love, Dad.” That “Dad” was Carl Alpert, the famous columnist, geographer, and veteran of the Zionist movement.

…and many other fantastic finds in the Stories & Essays section.


Perpetuum Schmobile 19: Charles Adler Jr. and the Movement Control
The most inventions of Charles Adler Jr., the brake system, safety signals, and pedestrian-actuated streetlights, are in the realm of movement control, and they are meant to provide safety. This, as our video magician Kirill Chichayev believes, is his major merit.

Read Judah Halevi!
The Eshkolot Project presents the interview with the Israeli author and translator Hillel Halkin who wrote the biography of the medieval Jewish poet Judah Halevi, published in Russian translation by the Knizhniki Publishers.

…and many other reasonable reads in the Video Blog section.


The Kid Brother. A Story of Aaron Belsky
Semyon Charny tells about the little guerilla Aaron, and the Jewish guerilla unit.

Hush, Daddy Is Asleep
Booknik Jr. continues to introduce his not especially grown-up readers with the book of the popular Israeli children’s author, politician, and journalist Uri Orbakh Donkeys on the Roof & Other Stories. He retells Talmudic stories in his zany and merry manner, and his wise men sometimes are even transferred to our times.

Unexpected Discoveries
Postcrossing is the international project of postcards exchanging. They are not virtual ones but real, with addresses, stamps, postmarks, and kind words of a far-flung stranger. Yelizaveta Guller invites you to join this fascinating project. Every postcard may become a start for a new communication, and friendship. Happy postcrossing to you!

Do Not Part With Your Loved Ones. Five Gadgets That Will Find a Lost Child
Children are usually lost in the most crowded places. A far journey, an outing to a store, or an innocent walk in a park could easily turn into a nightmare. This is why parents are better be armed with common sense, and locating devices, and their kids, with their relatives’ business cards. Here are some reasonable suggestions from Maria Markova that will help you not to lose your children, and your sanity.

…and many other addictive advertisements at Booknik Jr., also known as Family Booknik, our own web site for kids and their parents.


I did knock. Booknik and Family Booknik are supported by the AVI CHAI Foundation.









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