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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

A Holocaust tale beyond tasteless

By Tim Rutten




This is one book you should definitely not buy as a Chanukah gift

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) Ludwig Wittgenstein, one of the 20th century's most influential philosophers, famously remarked: "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

Had Mark Jacobson taken counsel from this bit of modern wisdom, readers might have been spared his repellent new book, "The Lampshade: A Holocaust Detective Story From Buchenwald to New Orleans." If you were a bookstore clerk directed to shelve this volume, you'd have to create a new category — Holocaust porn.

Jacobson is a prolific magazine writer — nowadays mainly for New York magazine — whose previous pieces have provided the basis for the film "American Gangster" and the television series "Taxi." Like most successful freelancers, his inclination is to slice experience like salami. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, one of Jacobson's old friends, who lives in New Orleans, paid $35 for a curiously textured lampshade at a rummage sale. When he asked the seller what it was made of, he answered, "That's made from the skin of Jews."

Days later, the friend sent the lampshade to Jacobson in New York, urging him to "find out what it is." Mitochondrial DNA testing by a Virginia laboratory established that the shade, in fact, was human skin. The sample, however, was too degraded to say anything more about whether the person from whom it had come was of European origin. Subsequent tests by Israeli and German forensic scientists reached the same conclusions.

Jacobson is all but convinced that the shade is one of those allegedly made at the behest of Ilse Koch, the sadistic wife of Buchenwald's commandant, who — according to some accounts — had the skin of murdered inmates with unusual tattoos fashioned into domestic objects, including lampshades. Though Ilse Koch was sentenced to life imprisonment after the war, no such objects were introduced in evidence. Two segments of tattooed skin from Buchenwald are kept at two Washington, D.C., museums — though not at the national Holocaust Memorial Museum. The lampshade in Jacobson's possession is not tattooed.


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Whatever its origins, the fragment of human tragedy in Jacobson's possession would seem to cry out for a decent end to the affront and indignity it has suffered. If he, in fact, believes it is the remains of a murdered Jew, then there are Orthodox rituals for the burial of partial remains. If uncertainty prevents that, nothing prevents the author from having the shade cremated and put to rest with whatever nonsectarian gestures of respect seem appropriate. No matter what Jacobson may speculate, that's surely the reason the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem declined any discussion of receiving the lampshade as a donation.

What decency ought to preclude in any case is turning this macabre relic into material — which is exactly what Jacobson does in this book. Hence, the "detective story," which is a publisher's marketing trope for "let's make this exciting and entertaining." Simon & Schuster has something to answer for when it comes to the book's cover, a pornographic photograph of the shade lighted from within wrapped in a barely transparent dust jacket that resembles a layer of skin. Bad taste doesn't begin to describe the revulsion it evokes when you first hold it in your hands.

All that is shabby enough, but Jacobson makes things worse with a series of pseudo-hip authorial tics that trivialize his subject and turn the serious reader's stomach. The book begins, for example, with the author and the lampshade in the Union City, N.J., rooms of a Dominican "spiritualist" — from the description she's a Santeria practitioner. She tells the author that the lampshade contains a human spirit who trusts Jacobson and wants to remain in his keeping because, "You're the only one he has now."

One is inclined to mutter, "Oh, please" and pass on, but some chapters later, Jacobson has "named" the tragic object Ziggy and places it on his bed for further "spiritualist" ritual. At that point, any reader of decent sensibility is bound to feel exasperation hardening into cold anger.

Early on, Jacobson — acting on a suggestion from a New York police source — seeks out Shiya Ribowsky, an experienced forensic investigator with the city's medical examiner, who also happens to be a cantor. They meet in the social hall of a shul where Ribowsky has been leading kaddish, Judaism's prayer of mourning. The cantor lifts the lampshade from the box in which Jacobson has transported it:

"'It's parchment, that's for sure.' Shiya has handled a lot of parchment in his life, parchment inside tefillin, mezuzahs, and the Torah. The lampshade reminded him of all that. 'But it is thinner, much thinner.' He held the lampshade closer to his face and turned it around again. Then he took a deep breath and sat heavily into a chair, placing the lampshade on the table in front of him.

"'This is the saddest thing I've ever seen in my life,' he said."

Would that the author had felt the same — and taken it to heart.

Pirke Avos, the only Talmudic tractate to deal exclusively with ethical and moral questions, records this saying of Simeon, son of Rabbi Gamaliel: "I was raised among the sages and from them learned that nothing is to be preferred to silence."

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