Jerusalem Maiden Book Review

There are some people who are lucky enough to be born with a gift of talent. The question that often comes up, especially when this gift goes up against the world they live in, will they follow their gift or will they tow the line and pretend that they are satisfied?

Talia Carner’s 2011 book, Jerusalem Maiden, revolves around this conflict. In the last days of the Ottoman Empire, Esther Kaminsky is a young Haredi woman living in Jerusalem. Her life is laid out for her. Within a few short years, she is expected to marry a young man chosen for her, bring his children into the world, keep his house and live the life that women in her community have lived for centuries.

Other girls might be satisfied to live this way, but not Esther. She is a gifted artist living in a community where art is forbidden and a young lady, especially an unmarried young lady is expected to live and act a certain way. Just as Esther is about to rebel and choose her own life instead of living the life expected of her, tragedy visits her family.  She must choose between her heart and the obligations that weigh on her young shoulders.

This book was recommended to me and and I am very glad that it was. Stories of young people rebelling from strict religious doctrines are not new. What makes this story stand out is Esther’s choices and how she works to find a balance between what is expected of her and what she wants from life. I especially appreciated the ending. While it was not the typical ending for a story of this nature, it felt like appropriate.

I highly recommend it.



I Am Malala Trailer

Malala Yousafzai is an extraordinary young lady. Born into a Pakistani family, she was vocal and public in her defiance of the Taliban and their rule that girls are denied an education. Their response was an assassination attempt.

Many people might have died from such a heinous violent attack, but Malala survived. Over the past few years, not only has she become the youngest Nobel Peace Prize ever, but she is the symbol of standing up for what you believe in.

She represents the millions of young girls around the world, who because they are girls, are denied an education. She is an articulate, educated and well respected young lady who has shone a light on a subject that many within the first world talk of, but few act on.

The upcoming documentary, I am  Malala, is her story. She has become a hero not just for girls her age, but for anyone who believes so completely in justice and equality, that they are willing to put their very lives on the line for others who denied this basic right.

Not only do I think that this film will do very well come award season, but it will encourage all of us to do what is right and stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

Hava Nagila

Tradition is a wonderful thing. It binds us to the past and to those who are no longer with us. But that does mean that we can have some fun with tradition.

Hava Nagila is a song that within the first few notes, the listener knows the song and the people who are connected with it. I’ve known this song since I was a child. While I love the traditional Hava Nagila, it’s nice to hear a more modern take on this song.

For many, this is the traditional Hava Nagila.

I like this adaptation because while it keeps to the origins of the song, it speak to the modern audience.

Now this is a fun Hava Nagila. It adds a pop flair while integrating latin dance feel to the song many grew up with.

To me, religion and tradition can still live on. It’s just a matter of realizing that sometimes a new angle can keep it going.

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