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urn1 - - =- -_ '  u : lmulidliilEJJlllRllnl!llll HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 8, 2009 By Ron laplan New Jersey Jewish News Epiphanies. They can come from the mostunusual places. For David Plotz, editor of Slate. corn, it came at a cousin's bat mitzvah. In the introduction to his "Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Mar- velous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible" (Harper), he explains how boredom had him flipping through the Humash until he encountered a rather graphic depiction of the rape of Dinah and the revenge wreaked by her relatives. "Needless to say, this isn't a story they taught me at Temple Sinai's Hebrew school in 1980," he wrote. After several seconds of deep thought, Plotz described his book for NJ Jewish News with one word: "provocation." First-time Bible readers often dealwith multiple issues, finding the stories funny, odd and confusing, Plotz said in a phone interview from his office in Washington, DC. He completely understands how some might not appreciate his book, which is an offshoot of a blog he began on Slate several years ago. A fair portion of the Not your rabbi's Bib e estimated 11,000 e-mails he has received--not to mention the thousands of comments posted to the website--have been negative, with readers telling him, among other things, that he knows noth- ing of the Bible or that he is going to hell. "The more substantive part was from Jews who thought: 'This is not howwe read in our tradition and you don't know anything and your ignorance and your naivete make your readings just shallow and stupid, so you should shut up.' "I know I'm reading out of tradition," said Plotz. "I know I'm reading not in a way that Jews are supposed to read, and I know there's awhole tradition of criticism and commentary and scholarship." Plotz, 39, grew up in a tra- ditional Jewish home. "We cel- ebrated Passover and we'd go to synagogue on the High Holy Days and celebrate Chanukah, but itwas not adeeply religious household," said Plotz, who attended an Episcopal high school in Washington. Now he, his wife and their three children belong to a Conser- vative congregation where his eight-year-old daughter is learning the PG version of the Bible stories. Although Plotz has been David Plotz , Jonathan Goldstein to the Holy Land several times his wife is Israeli--he made a trip specifically to visit some of the sites mentioned in the Bible. "I didn't come away feeling, 'Oh now I've seen the Wailing Wall; God was here.' But I did come away feeling that this astonishing continu- ity of our people with that land is amazing." Knowing that his ancestors walked the land thousan of years ago, he said, is "humbling and inspiring." "It didn't make me believe in God, but it made me believe in what an interesting and resilient people we are, and I'm glad I'm one of them." Plotz has yet to speak at a Jewish event. "I think that will be the real test," he said. "I think the stakes are higher for Jews on this. The Christians will say, 'Well, you didn't read the second half of the Book.' But for Jews, it will be interesting to see if the response is appreciative or skeptical." The condensed edition Unlike Plotz, who wrote about the Tanach, chapter and verse, Jonathan Goldstein selected a handful of familiar stories, including the Garden of Eden, NoahandtheArk, and The Golden Calf, among oth- ers, for "Ladies and Gentlemen. The Bible!" (Riverhead Books). Goldstein, a writer and contributing editor to Public Radio International's "This American Life," described the Jewish household of his child- hood as similar to Plotz's: "It was not religious, per se. We were more what you call tradi- tional," he said about growing up in Laval, a suburb near Montreal. "While we weren't kosher, we were kosher-style, the apartment across the hall from kosher. We didn't observe all of the laws, butwe had the Jerusalem napkin holder and went to restaurants that had the signs outside in Hebrew calligraphy." Even though he wasn't Orthodox, he attended an Orthodox synagogue. "I felt, if I was going to go, I was going to get the full treatment." He said he would sometimes "get giggly" over the austerity and seriousness."Itjust seemed to invite ticklishness." This lingering influence can be seen in his book. "I kind of veered on the side of just going for the cheap laugh," he said. Writing his collection of Bible tales was away for Gold- stein, also 39, to reconnect with those days. "These were the first stories I ever heard, before television and cartoons. Itwas like a way to hang out with old friends, picking up PAGE 17A the biblical hero figurines and playing with them. "On another level, it was a chance to wrestle with these stories and figure out where I stood with them. It's the kind of thing that everybody has to come to terms with at some point: where they stand vis-a- vis God and their own Bible." Goldstein did "a lot of re- search" in the preliminary stages, but the stories that came back to him were the ones he learned in Hebrew school and "my father's screwed-up ver- sions" thatwere hard-wired into his consciousness. "I stopped thinking of it as a scholarly pursuit and went with my gut." As he prepared for a book tour that would take him to New York, Washington, DC, and the West Coast, Goldstein wondered about the reception he would get, concerned that readers might find his book disrespectful. "There are a lot of things in there whicl I think have other ambitions, that examine philosophical and ontological questions that I have had. Hopefully, that will be seen or appreciated. But at the end of the day, I just hope it'll make people laugh." Ron Kaplan is the features editor of the New Jersey Jew- ish News. New Jewish cards honor By Ron Kaplan New Jersey Jewish News This time ofyear, one thing that keeps baseball fans warm is the knowledge that the ne.w sets of baseball:cards are about z, to hit the stores. Sy Berger is considered the father of the modern industry, having designed the 1952 set for Topps, which has long been the standard for the companies that have entered the fray since the late 1980s. BEERSHEVA, Israel--Ze- nithSolar, an Israeli start- up company, launched its first "solar farm" near Tel Aviv on April 26, based on concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) systems developed by professor David Faiman of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Faiman, who is chairman of the department of solar energy and environmental physics at BGU's Jacob Blaus- tein Institutes for Desert Research, believes the new By Debra Rubin Washington Jewish Week Celia Shapiro was never much of a chocolate fan. Pea- nut M&Ms were her favorite, and it was more about the peanuts than the claocolate. That is, until she tasted chocolate made with a Co- lonial-era recipe, the kind of after-dinner delight, with hints of spices, that George Washington might have eat- en, says Shapiro, a Chevy Chase. Md. resident whose background is in computer. science. "Oh. my goodness," she re- members thinking, while she This year's set from Jewish Major Leaguers focuses on some of the game's record- setting performances, in- cluding Art Shamsky's four consecutive home runs, Phil Wehltraub*s ll-RBI gam and Jake Pitler's 15 putouts at second base. Newark's own Moe Berg is here, too, for his consecutive errorless game mark by a catcher. The "minyan-plus-three" players in 2008--41 of whom are represented in the set--in- eludes rookies Brian Horwitz and Josh Whiteseli, along with Scott Schoeneweis, Ryan Braun, Brad Ausmus. Jason Marquis, Gabe Kapler, Kevin Youkilis, John Grabow, Scott Feldman, Ian Kinsler, Jason Hirsh and Craig Breslow. Youkilis, Braun and Kinsler appeared in lastyear'sAll-Star game, tying a record for the most Jews in the midsummer classic, an eventthatwarrants a card of its own. Other cards of last year's highlights feature Braun's home run at the end of the regular season to put the Mil- waukee Brewers in the playoffs and Schoeneweis' ascension as all-time Jewish leader in pitching appearances. The 50-card set also honors the late Jerome Holtzman, a Hall of Fame sportswriter who created the "save" statistic, and Berger for his contributions to the card industry. There are also nods to such trivial pur.uits s record setters as Guy Zinn. the first batter in Fenway Park in 1912, and New Jersey resident Lou Lim- mer, who hit the last home run for the Philadelphia Athletics. The original set of Jewish Major Leaguer cards, created by Martin Abramowitz, was issued in 2003, presenting a card for every player known to be of Jewish origin to that time. The 2009 edition is printed by the Upper Deck Co. and is 'Solar Farm' grows near Tel Aviv believes that systems such as ZenithSolar's will eventually be able to operate economi- cally without the need for subsidies. "Israel has the capabil- ity to become the leading country in the promotion of alternative energy technolo- gies," said Israel's President Shim0n Peres before cutting the ceremonial ribbon with the help of children from Kibbutz Kvusat Yavne, the location of the half-acre farm2 "As I stand here looking at this solar farm, I feel great pride in my heart that such a small country has such great minds." Speaking at the ceremony, BCU President Rivka Carmi said, "Ben-Gurion Univer- sity is proud to be a partner in positioning Israel at the center of the world in devel- oping unique solar energy technologies." Roy Segev, chief execu- tive officer and founder of ZenithSolar: "The potential for this technology to provide low-cost, accessible energy for customers around the world" is enormous. Our system is simple enough to be.applicable in almost any situation, whether it is indus- trial, commercial, residential or related to eco-tourism. There is currently no other comparable technology avail- able in the world." Segev added, "Working closely with professor David Faiman and Dr. Andreas Bett. head of the department of materials-solar cells technol- system will harvest more than 70 percent of incoming solar energy (as compared to industry norms of 10 percent to 40 percent). "By concentrating solar energy to a level 1,000 times more intense than natural sunlight and taking advan- tage of the higher efficiencies at which solar cells operate under these conditions, only minute amounts of expensive PV material are necessary to produce large amounts of power," Faiman said. He Sephardi Jews have swee ured that his sister's love for research and her detail- oriented nature would be use- ful. Celia Shapiro's chapter: "Nation of Nowhere: Jewish Role in Colonial American Chocolate History." "I started searching every Jewish archive in the coun- try," she says, and pored over microfilm and other records. She discovered a world of Sephardi Jews involved in the cocoa trade dating back to the Inquisition, and notes that Jews first learned about cocoa when Christopher Co- lumbus and Hernando Cortes brought it back to the Iberian Penninsula. !es to tell During 18 months of research, she "followed every single lead as far back as I could go," and came across such names as Joseph Beuno, Aaron Lopez and Rebecca Gomez, all Sephardi Jews. She learned that Jews were cocoa traders in Amsterdam, the West Indies, Venezuela, Brazil and Colonial America, and that a Jewish man, Ben- jamin d'Acosta de Andrade, who arrived in Martinique ir 1654, is believed to have established the first cocoa- producing plant in the New World. bringing Jews into the international cocoa trade. "It's really a story about co-religionists and family looking out for each other." making cocoa part of their trade, Shapiro, a member of Congregation Adas Israel sat in the Davis. Calif.. offices of the Mars candy corporation. where her brother, Harold, is director of plant science and external research. "They are seductively wonderful." She was enjoying that chocolate as part of research she was doing for a book. Shapiro's brother had tapped her to write a chapter in an academic tome that Mars was funding through the Univer- sity of California at Davis: "Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage." Harold-Yana Shapiro co-edited the book. published this month by Wiley, with Louis Grivetti. Harold-Yana Shapiro fig- limited to 3,000 sets. It's avail- able for $36 plus $3 shipping and handling; orders received before opening day (March 31) cost $30 plus shipping and handling. For ordering informa- tion, visit www.Jewishmajor- leaguers.org. Ron Kaplan is the sports and features editor for the New Jersey Jewish News. Read his blog on Jews and sports at www.njjewishnews.eom/ kaplanskorner. ogy and his staffat Germany's Fraunhofer Gesellschaft for Solar Energy Systems, we have created a solar energy system that is more efficient than any similar solar prod- uct." Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is a world-re- nowned institute of research and higher learning with 18,000students on campuses in Beersheva, Sede Boker and Eilat in Israel's southern des- ert. For more information, visit www.aabgu.org. in the District of Columbia, says. "It's a cool story," says Shapiro, who now includes a piece of chocolate when she packs her lunch. "Who knew?" Panic! Popups!   Adult! Sparn[ Emergencies No Extra Charge! www.schiffkey.comD'n't Get Mad Get Help! ,e00idSc,;00407 ................................... I 9.844 I