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Save 20% with Memorial Day coupon

To celebrate Memorial Day, to help you prepare for Shavuot, and, quite frankly, to test our new shopping cart software, we’re offering a 20% discount and free shipping if you enter the coupon code md16.

This will expire not too long after the holiday, so stock up on our fine Jewish books now.

We offer poetry.

we who desire


Outstretched Arm



Torah study,


and even a Comic Torah.

The Comic Torah (cover)

Just type in md16 before checking out and save 20% and get free shipping.


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local time – a poem by Sue Swartz

(local time)

That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you—

we who desireUndoing, unbecoming—
Giving it all back.

Consider the simple green bud of self
and within, all our restless fertility.

Consider our short-lived tenancy as its tiller
and tender. How things fall through.

How rest is not loss, still is not fallow.
How to stop without sacrifice.

From we who desire by Sue Swartz

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When does money become holy? A poem for Parashat B'har by Abe Mezrich

When does money become holy?


The House at the Center of the World (cover)

God says: When you come to the land, every seventh year

you must renounce ownership of the land

and share that year’s produce with your servant of every kind

and with your animals that labor with you

and with the animals of nature.


And God says: If you follow My Laws…

I will grant your rains in their season;

and the Land shall give forth its yield.


Then God tells the Laws

of how a person may donate money


to God’s Temple.


We think of our wealth

as our own.

But if you share your wealth

with the community around you,

and if you know your wealth comes

only through God’s rain—

then your wealth can truly hold value,

then your money can be made holy to God.

Leviticus 25:2,6; 26:3-4; 27:3

From The House at the Center of the World

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A Sestina for Counting the Omer by Rachel Barenblat

Open My Lips (cover)

We mark the Omer day
by day, spring unfolding light
as snowflakes in the breeze. One
follows another; we measure each week
of this dusty journey through
wild unknowing. Come and count.

Time to make our qualities count.
The kaleidoscope shifts every day,
each dawn a lens that God shines through.
What in me will be revealed as light
streams into me each week?
Seven colors of the rainbow make one

beam of white. God is One
and God’s in everything we count.
Lovingkindness permeates the first week,
then boundaries, harmony, each day
a different lens for light
to warm our hearts as it glows through.

And when the Omer count is through?
We’ll stand at Sinai, every one
— every soul that’s ever been — light
as Chagall’s floating angels. Count
with me, and treasure each day.
A holy pause caps every week.

Endurance comes into play: week
four. We wonder, will we make it through?
Humility and splendor in a single day,
two opposites folded into one.
Roots strengthen us as we count.
Every day, more work to do and stronger light.

Torah is black fire on white, light
of our lives. In the seventh week
time warps and ripples as we count.
Kingship and presence come through,
transcendence and immanence bundled as one,
wholly revealed on the forty-ninth day…

Feel the light now pouring through.
Each week the seven sefirot become one.
It’s time to count the Omer, now, today.

From Open My Lips: Prayers and Poems by Rachel Barenblat

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LIVE YOUR WAY INTO THE ANSWER An Exodus poem by Sue Swartz

we who desire
Because against this, that
Because the angels of our better nature
And the angle of days to come
Because as we said goodbye            As we say goodbye

Because this is the book of bursting through
And the book of coming undone
Because bricks without straw
Because bruise without respite

And the compulsion to be heard
Because the crack in everything
And because the darkening

Because the darkness
And the daughter of Pharaoh in every generation
Because the distance between
And the dog,
               chained in some fool’s backyard: barking and barking—
Because the dream of crossing

Because the ego that dreamt         (its elliptical nature)
And the events of the night—

Because the faceless god of frogs & thunder
And the faithful god of time
Because the fear             And the fire            And the fissure
Because glimpses of—

And Heisenberg’s uncertainty

Because I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread
Because I-will-be sent me to you
Because if this, then that              And imagine all the people

And in the interstices, hidden

Because joining one thing to another
Because knee deep in muddy water
Because the light of a candle
in the heart of the sun

Because locusts & lice            And the long strange trip
Because love supreme                  And the luminous underneath

Because mantles marked             Because metaphoric
Meteoric             And the middle that will not hold
Because naked ambition And nothing as it was
And the one who takes off her shoes

And the one and the one and the one—
Because of this permeable world

And the photo that spreads beyond the frame
Because the point of no return        And the portable palace
Because the protests in Tahrir Square
     (All that purposeful unbecoming)

Because the quotidian
Because the radical
Because the sea filled with baskets
And seeing an angel in the marble, he carved
Because starry, starry night              And a steel bar can be bent
Because suitcases filled with suffering
Because the touchable—
Because the unleavened—         And the vertical drop.
Because what is in your hand
And what I am is what I am       And when you drew the map
And where we’re going, there’s no—

Because who will live in our house
And who will memorize our story
And why we’re whispering          Why we’re whispering
          as we say goodbye

Because xenophobia
Because you and you and you
Because zealotry and zeitgeist

And the Zen koan: one drop reveals the ocean
Because zero & zilch & zip
Because the zany zookeeper
          unlocked the cage—

from we who desire: Poems and Torah riffs by Sue Swartz

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On the Eighth Day a poem by Sue Swartz

Aaron’s sons Nadav & Avihu… offered before God
strange fire that had not been commanded—

On the eighth day, Alessandro Volta
put metal coins on his tongue
and prophesied sulfurous electricity.

On the eighth day, Leucippus
considered the true nature of the void,
Teller the true capacity of the sun.

Curie was entranced by radium,
and Maxwell by luminous radiations.

On the eighth day, there were isotopes,
cloud chambers, alpha rays.

Life was vaporized in a simple test of hydrogen.

On that day outside planned creation,
God peered into the universe and was afraid for us—

Noisy children snapping berries
off a poisonous bush, racing down the street
with pointy twigs—

Didn’t I tell you to knock that off?

And burned to the nub two sons of priestly
inheritance. Before the whole assembly
were they offered up, a soothing savor.

Object lesson: this may you burn
in your copper pan, of this sinew and thigh
may you eat.

But this intoxicating notion, this 4-legged
It is polluted meat. Strange fire.

Your blowtorch future.


From we who desire: Poems and Torah riffs

we who desire

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Author sees sorrow as path to spirituality New Jersey Jewish News speaks with Jay Michaelson

New Jersey Jewish News speaks to Jay Michaelson in advance of his talk at a local JCC:

Joy and sadness, like light and darkness, are part of a continuum, Jay Michaelson argues, and our culture’s obsessive focus on one or the other — in the feel-good teachings of pop psychology or the morbid predictions of doom-sayers — is misleading.

He makes that case in his new book, The Gate of Tears: Sadness and the Spiritual Path (Ben Yehuda Press) and in his widely varied roles as teacher, commentator, and activist. Whether dealing with the loss of a loved one, the looming menace of global warming, or the battle for equality and justice, Michaelson insists people live fuller and more effective lives when they open themselves to both the positive and the negative.

“‘Faith sees best in the dark,’ remarked Kierkegaard in one of his sermons,” Michaelson writes in The Gate of Tears. “Ordinary sadness, everyday melancholy, the quiet, small pains of life, as well as the more profound losses that are part of human life, are the places in which the real spiritual work takes place.”

Michaelson will discuss this approach on Thursday evening, Feb. 25, at the Birnbaum JCC in Bridgewater.

Read it all here

$16.95 $13.05Add to cart

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Why “Amazon best-selling author” is meaningless

What Does It Take to Be a ‘Best-Selling Author’? $3 and 5 Minutes.

I would like to tell you about the biggest lie in book publishing. It appears in the biographies and social media profiles of almost every working “author” today. It’s the word “best seller.”

This isn’t about how The New York Times list is biased (though it is). This isn’t about how authors buy their way onto various national best-seller lists by buying their own books in bulk (though they do). No, this is about the far more insidious title of “Amazon Bestseller”—and how it’s complete and utter nonsense.

Here’s what happened in the book industry over the last few years: As Amazon has become the big dog in the book world, the “Amazon Bestseller” status has come to be synonymous with being an actual bestseller. This is not true, and I can prove it.

bu12 Behind the Scam: What Does It Take to Be a Best Selling Author? $3 and 5 Minutes.

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With an Outstretched Arm reviewed by Congregational Libraries Today

Congregational Libraries Today, a publication of the Church & Synagogue Library Association, reviews With An Outstretched Arm:

This appealing memoir traces two interconnected journeys: a spiritual journey from a youth grounded in the Reform Jewish community of Atlanta to an orthodox-based life of observance, and a journey of healing following the tragic death of the author’s daughter, Ruth, at the hands of a drunk driver.

The Passover Seder provides the spine of this story. The memoir opens with a Passover scene, the family welcoming a “survivor” of the Exodus from Egypt; a scene that introduces us to Ruth and to a subtext of the book: how to balance ritual and ethical actions. Passover tales help focus the reader on the changes in the author’s life.

 The author describes her journey as climbing a ladder. There was no sudden leap into traditional observance; rather it was a slow process of growth, intellectual struggle, experimentation, and acceptance. She provides a worthy model for all seekers who wish to consider their own journey.

Ruth’s death is devastating. The author shares her journey of grief honestly. We see her existential struggles with God and tradition. We follow her efforts to reestablish equilibrium in her life.

Clearly and simply written, one never doubts the honesty of this account. The author’s self-exploration provides a backdrop to an equally important portrait of changes that have moved Jewish life over the past half-century or more. Highly recommended. —Rabbi Louis A. Rieser