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For historical, cultural and philosophical context:
Ruth Ellen Gruber, Virtual Judaism: Reinventing Jewish Life in Europe, UC Press.
Journalist, author, and travel expert Ruth Ellen Gruber presents a new edition of her acclaimed 1992 guide to Jewish heritage sites in Eastern Europe. Widely acknowledged as the best and most comprehensive book of its kind, this is the only Jewish travel guidebook that takes visitors to hundreds of fascinating sites in small villages and remote hamlets as well as major cities.

Eva Hoffman, Shtetl: The Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of Polish Jews.
Relations between Jews and Poles were troubled even before World War II began, writes Eva Hoffman in this powerful memoir of life under Nazi occupation. Dealings between the groups were no easier with the arrival of a common enemy, who exploited longstanding anti-Semitism to destroy the inhabitants of both city and shtetl, the rural Eastern European small town that stood as "the site of the Jewish soul." This extraordinary account of cultures in conflict has led to much discussion--even controversy--in Europe. Hoffman's vigorously defended view of Poland's role in the Holocaust will doubtless generate debate elsewhere. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Ellen Gruber,� Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe, National Geographic, 2007.
Journalist, author, and travel expert Ruth Ellen Gruber presents a new edition of her acclaimed 1992 guide to Jewish heritage sites in Eastern Europe. Widely acknowledged as the best and most comprehensive book of its kind, this is the only Jewish travel guidebook that takes visitors to hundreds of fascinating sites in small villages and remote hamlets as well as major cities.

Michael Karpin, Tightrope: Six Centuries of a Jewish Dynasty, John Wiley & Sons, 2008.
"Michael Karpin has written a stirring Jewish saga, a rich and wrenching tale. I would praise this book ardently even if it were not the story of my own family." -- Leon Wieseltier

Paul Kriwaczek, Yiddish Civilisation: The Rise and Fall of a Forgotten Nation, Vintage Books, 2005.
Kriwaczek's charming but frustratingly rambling history places Yiddish in a very broad historical context. Admitting that he is neither "a learned Jew nor a professional historian," Kriwaczek (In Search of Zarathustra) cuts a broad swath through history as he moves, in the opening chapters, from the forum in Rome to the emergence of a distinct "Yiddish civilization" in medieval eastern Europe.

Lisa Pearl Rosenbaum, A Day of Small Beginnings A Novel, Little, Brown & Co., 2006.
Rosenbaum's debut sets The Lovely Bones to strains of Fiddler on the Roof. In rural Zokof, Poland, in 1906, young Itzik Leiber protects three small Jewish boys from a beating, resulting in the accidental death of a menacing Polish peasant. Itzik hides in a Jewish cemetery where he unknowingly draws the soul of Friedl Alterman�who died the previous year at 83.

Michael Steinlauf, Bondage to the Dead: Poland and the Memory of the Holocaust. (Forgive the macabre title. The book chronicles, in an engaging journalistic style, the rebirth of the Jewish community after the collapse of communism and projects developed by Polish Jews and international Jewish organizations to preserve Holocaust sites in Poland.)

Andrzej Szczypiorski, The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman: A Novel, This beautifully rendered novel links case histories from Nazi-occupied Warsaw to show the world of those not sent to the camps--both Polish gentiles and Jews who changed identities and "passed." These survivors lived with the horror of what was happening to their friends and families and with the constant anxiety of being at risk themselves. While theirs was not the most immediate horror of the Holocaust, they experienced an insidious deadening of the soul more closely linked to Polish history. The narrative zigzags through this history at will, a distancing device that accentuates the isolation of the characters. Though individual lives connect, some are literally, and absurdly, dead ends. In this novel without a hero, the Jewish widow Mrs. Seidenman is a recurring motif. While she survives Nazi capture and Communist purge, her heart is lost before she even enters these pages. A sad book, translated into graceful English.

Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Family Moskat: A Novel, The vanished way of life of Eastern European Jews in the early part of the twentieth century is the subject of this extraordinary novel. All the strata of this complex society were populated by powerfully individual personalities, and the whole community pulsated with life and vitality. The affairs of the patriarchal Meshulam Moskat and the unworldly Asa Heshel Bannet provide the center of the book, but its real focus is the civilization that was destroyed forever in the gas chambers of the Second World War.

Isaac Bashevis Singe, In My Father�s Court: A Memoir, Like Singer's fiction, this poignant memoir of his childhood in the household and rabbinical court of his father is full of spirits and demons, washerwomen and rabbis, beggars and rich men. This rememberance of Singer's pious father, his rational yet adoring mother, and the never-ending parade of humanity that marched through their home is a portrait of a magnificent writer's childhood self and of the world, now gone, that formed him.

Everything is Illuminated, The Film, based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, in DVD The ultimate Jewish heritage journey to search for family roots in eastern Europe, this film is hilarious, bittersweet, and filled with Jewish self-discovery, as every Jewish cultura l tour should be. With only a yellowing photograph in hand, a young man -- also named Jonathan Safran Foer -- sets out to find the woman who may or may not have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Accompanied by an old man haunted by memories of the war; an amorous dog named Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior; and the unforgettable Alex, a young Ukrainian translator who speaks in a sublimely butchered English, Jonathan is led on a quixotic journey over a devastated landscape and into an unexpected past.

Websites:

www.taubephilanthropies.org

www.polandjewishheritagetours.com (launching February 15)

www.conversationmaps.org/odpowiedz.html

Poland Jewish Heritage Tours
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Poland Jewish Heritage Tours
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