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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

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 June 28, 2004 / 9 Tamuz 5764

New book looks at life and love in a Jerusalem few see

By Lisa Haddock

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Meet the author of the critically acclaimed novel, one that makes for perfect summer reading


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Passionate.


That word defines "Seven Blessings," the debut novel by Ruchama King.


The critically acclaimed book (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) — set in 1980s, pre-intifada Jerusalem — is a love letter to the faith that King cherishes. That passion fuels a compelling story about the search for love — of G-d, of Torah, of life, of soul mates — in the land of Israel.


"Seven Blessings" tells the story of ordinary religious people in the spiritually charged city of Jerusalem: matchmakers and singles, bus drivers, grocers, lingerie merchants, rebbetzins, Torah scholars, and mystics.


"When we think of Jerusalem lately, the images that come up are of death and despair. And yet the people I know living in Jerusalem — family, friends — are going about their lives with a grace, a richness — and even joy," says the Passaic, N.J., resident.


"Of course we should be aware of the terrible things Israelis are going through. They are fighting our battle — the battle against Jew hatred — for all Jewish people, everywhere. But that battle doesn't have to eclipse who and what Jerusalem is. Jerusalem is life," says King, whose background reflects some of the diversity of Jewish life. She grew up in a religiously observant home with a U.S.-born Ashkenazi father and a Morocco-born Sephardic mother.


Just as the Torah itself does not shy away from the flaws of its characters, King points out, she also wanted to be realistic. She portrays the beauty and the flaws of the community she loves with poignance and humor.


"People hear 'matchmaker' and their minds turn to farce — caricature — Yenta, the local busybody. These are not 'Fiddler on the Roof' characters from a distant nostalgic haze. These are flesh-and-blood people — lovable, hatable."

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Back in the Eighties, King spent nine years in Jerusalem, where she studied and taught Torah, volunteered with the disabled, and thrived on the spiritual energy of the city regarded as the center of the world.


In fact, she gained much of the inside knowledge for her book during the two years she lived in the home of a matchmaker.


"She told me her secrets of the trade. She critiqued Yeshiva scholars — their hair, their beards, their glasses, and they listened. She took young women by the hand and decked them out so they looked nice.


"Sometimes I thought these couples continued dating each other just to have this woman tinkering in their lives," says King.


The author describes matchmaking as a national obsession in Israel — and a natural extension of the belief that all Jews are responsible for one another.


"You can't go 10 feet without bumping into a matchmaker. ... Bus drivers and postal clerks get involved. Everyone does. After the Holocaust, every couple that comes together, every family formed, is cause for national celebration."


King's knowledge of Torah and matchmaking pay off. She uses her characters' relationships with G-d and religion as a litmus test for the difficulties they have in their intimate relationships.


Her matchmakers are well-drawn characters who face problems of their own. Judy, the wife of a rabbi who now works as an exterminator, misses the trappings and honors of being a rebbetzin. Tsippi, a Treblinka survivor who makes matches as a way of getting even with the Nazis, yearns for a romantic connection with her husband, who spends most of his time with his nose buried in the Talmud. Yet both women lay aside these hurts to help make the all-important match.


"I don't think people realize how much of a psychoanalyst a matchmaker can — or even must — be," says King, a native of Nashville, Tenn., who grew u p in Maryland and Virginia.


And the single Jews she portrays also have their problems. Beth, a 39-year-old American, is afraid to hope that she's met the man of her dreams even as she struggles with religious questions. Akiva, a 41-year-old Canadian, is plagued by wild spasms that frighten away prospective mates. Binyamin, a 42-year-old American artist, is so fixated on superficial physical perfection that eventually, the matchmakers refuse to set him up — until he grows up.


King says she also wants readers to go beyond the basic question: Will these characters find true love?


"Matchmaking and romance are the perfect camouflage for thornier issues. Along the way, you can slip in a little Torah, a little G0d, a little coming to grips with the dark side of your own soul and self," says King, who has a master of fine arts from Brooklyn College.


After her own struggles as a single in a Jewish world that so highly values marriage and family, she's a happily married mother of four.


Her husband, Yisrael Feuerman, has been a big supporter of her ambitions.


"He is an excellent writer with a background in modern psychoanalysis. .... I cannot imagine a husband who could be more supportive: on the both the literary, emotional, and financial end."


For now, King is pleased that she's broken into the literary mainstream.


As for her future literary plans?


"I don't know what will be, but I'm growing more aware of what compels me to write." She pauses as her dark eyes grow pensive.


"I grew up with a skeptical eye toward religion and spirituality, and at the same time I was captivated by it. I was inside and outside at the same time. That's why I write. I'm in touch with that tension."

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washinton and the media consider must reading. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Lisa Haddock is the former Religion & Values editor at The Record in Hackensack, N.J. To comment, please click here.

© 2004, Lisa Haddock