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June 8, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 8, 2012 By Steve Lipman New York Jewish Week The central character in the newest novel by Thane Rosenbaum--lawyer, law professor, author, modera- tor of an annual discussion series at the 92nd Street Y--is a 12-year-old daugh- ter of divorced parents who shuttles between mother and father via the Brooklyn Bridge. The granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, she learnsabout her grand- mother's wartime experi- ences while juggling such issues as homelessness and 9/11, divorce and fashion. Is "The Stranger Within Sarah Stein" (Texas Tech University Press) a "tween" book? Definitely not, Rosen- baum says. "I don't define it as ayoung adult novel," Rosenbaum says, though the Barnes and Noble and websites say it's for readers 8 years old and above, and the By Alexandra Halpern Fiction that bridges age groups NEW YORK (JTA)--It's post-apocalyptic America and you're in District 12 of Panem. With your bow and arrow, you are helping Kat- niss Everdeen hunt for meat and berries to bring back to your family. President Snow,. the evil dictator, is planning the next Hunger Games, in which children are placed in an arena to fight to the death--and you might be chosen. This is the world that Fun- tactix, a company founded in Israel, has created on Face- book along with Lionsgate and "Hunger Games" author Suzanne Collins. With social network games--typically played online through a social net- work such as Facebook or on a mobile device--replacing the console system as the standard in recent years, Funtactix finds itself well positioned. The Hunger Games Ad- ventures is just the latest book's title identifies it as "FictionYoung Adult." "It's a novel that just happens to have a 12-year-old narrator." A narrator, that is, who is unfailingly articulate, spouting similes like a fountain, such as when she describes her bifurcated self in gym class: "The skate- boarding Manhattan Sarah ran like a gazelle and played dodgeball like an alley cat. The Brooklyn Sarah was a complete spaz, running with arms flailing in the air as if she was drowning in water." "I certainly didn't dumb [the novel] down ... for younger .readers," Rosen- baum says. Think Alice in Wonder- land (an adult novel in the guise of a kid's story), not Harry Potter (whose magic- centric tales also attracted an adult readership). In his earlier, clearly adult-oriented works of fiction set in a Holocaust context ("Second Hand Smoke," "The Golems of Go- tham" and"Elijah Visible")," Definitely not, Rosen- Rosenbaum dealt with the baumsays.Thoughthebook themes of"brokenness" and centers aroundaprecocious, the obligation to remember, street-smart tween and her In "The Stranger Within Sarah Stein," he puts those themes to work but in a more contemporary vein. This time, the Shoah is still there With, again, ghosts as a metaphor for loss. It's a breezy bookwith a serious message: "Everyone is a stranger to himself," the author says. Rosenbaum, 52, who lives in Manhattan, is the son of Holocaust survivors. His daughter, Basia Tess Rosen- baum, a 16-year-old student at Hunter College High School, Was 12 when he wrote "The Stranger Within Sarah Stein." Like Sarah Stein, Ba- sia Tess travels between par- ents via the Brooklyn Bridge, her mother in Brooklyn, her father in Manhattan. Thane's parents, born in Poland, were Holocaust survivors. Is the novel autobiog- raphy? parents, it's not his story. Or his daughter's. Basia Tess differs. "All my dad's books are autobiographical," she says, sitting at his side one recent afternoon at the living room table of his apartment near Central Park. She's clearly the model for Sarah Stein, but she's not Sarah Stein, says Basia Tess, who writes the "The Buzz" weekly roundup of local cultural events for The Jewish Week Arts Guide. "Sarah Stein is me on a good day. I'm not as smart as Sarah Stein." Thane listens quietly. Rosenbaum offers some caveats about this book and its "fractured narrative." It's not a Holocaust novel, he says. There are no scenes of concentration camps or ghettos. Born after World War II, he approaches the subject as a member of the Second Generation. "It's a post-Holocaust novel." It's not pure fantasy, though it incorporates people and places that disappear. Rosenbaum's description of life (and death on 9/11) here are realistic, "It's a very New York novel," he says, honed from exten- sive, hands-On, in-person research. "All [my] books are a blend of reality and unreality." He chose to write through the eyes--and in the words-- of a tweener to bring a fresh perspective. Who better to talk about the feelings of a child of divorce than a child herself? "I wanted the book to be relevant to children of divorce." It's an adult book, but he's says he's received insightful questions from elementary school students who are reading it. Rosenbaum leaves several questions unanswered. Will Sarah's separated parents reunite? Were her experi- 'Hunger Games' social media video with Israeli roots hits jackpot Funtactix The Israeli-born company Funtaaix's 'Hunger Games Adventures" game on Facebook. the jackpot: Funtactix is the first company to launch a Facebook game released on the same date as the movie on which it is based. Half a billion people play social games, according to Funtactix CEO Sam Glasse- nberg. "Traditional console- based movie games reached only those hard-core garner movie fans that both loved conquest for a company that has been receiving plenty of hype from gaming experts for integrating social gam- ing with big brand market- ing. Last year, Funtactix partnered with Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. to create Facebook games centered on "Rango," "Mis- sion: Impossible" and "New Boyz." Now it seems to have hit the film and owned a specific gaming 'console," he said. "With social games there is no barrier to entry, no expen- sive game console required." Funtactix bega.n as a startup company in Tel Aviv in 2006, and now has offices in New York, Jerusalem and Los Angeles. So how did this young com- pany born in Israel, which is second only to Silicon Valley in its per capita concentra- tion ofstartups, connect with big names like Paramount, Warner Bros. and Lionsgate? "Convincing a film studio or director to bring their up- coming film to the medium of social games is no easy task," Glassenberg said. But his team of Israelis ,had decades of combined experience building games for movies and was able to parlay existing relationships with Hollywood. The company has carved "out a unique niche," said Scott Steinberg,who heads the technology consulting firm TechSavvy Global. Funtactix may be making it big at the box office, but" its technology is standard, according to Ron Weaver, a faculty member at the Florida InteraCtive Enter- tainment Academy. Several Facebook games have been set up in conjunc- tion with TV shows, and con- tent and technology updates are common for all games, as there are no barriers on the Facebook platform. "Funtactix's implemen- tation of console-quality graphics within Flash is not a lone effort," Weaver told JTA. "Kudos to Funtactix for helping to lead the charge, but fortunately they are not alone." Glassenberg, who had worked for Microsoft, says one of the reasons he left the- company to join Funtactix in 2008 was to help build the games industry in Israel. "From personal experi- ence, I know that Israel has the potentiat to make a huge contribution to the global" games industry," he said, noting that the $100 billion-a-year industry will serve to enhance the nation economically and culturally, providing education and tal- ent retention. His Zionism and Fun- tactix's Israelis roots were among the things that drew him to the company. "Israel has a great deal to contribute to the global games industry. Funtactix is just scratching the sur- face," Glassenberg said. "We have established a reputation in Hollywood for Isr2iii game development. We hope this will serve as a catalyst for a much larger games ecosys- tem in Israel." Indeed, he'd like to see Funtactix pave the way for Other Israeli startups. Pointing to the power- house Google, which re- cently announced its plans to set up an Israel-based "incubator" to host and fund about 20 entrepreneurs, Glassenberg says big com- panies want access to Israeli talent. By Alan D.Abbey bers of the Eichmann team whowassmartenoughtofind As told to the Los Angeles Gordon received seven He left behind a young JERUSALEM (JTA)--The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Zvi Aharoni, 91, Israeli spy who first spotted Eichmann Zvi Aharoni, a member of the Israeli spy team that cap- tured Nazi AdolfEichmann in Argentina in 1960 and then brought him to Jerusalem for trial, died at 91 in England, where he had lived for 24 years. "I saw him about two o'clock in the afternoon," Aharoni wrote in his mem- oir of the event, "Operation Eichmann." "... I saw a man of medium size and build, about 50 years old, with a high forehead and partially bald, collecting the washing." Aharoni felt certain it was Eichmann. Aharoni and other mem- feuded in the years afterward in dueling memoirs and in- terviews over which of them was the most responsible for the Nazi's capture, and which of them received too much (or not enough) credit. While some accounts do say Aharoni was not sufficiently credited for his work, virtually all agreed that hewas the first to spot Eichmann. In a 2010 interview on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Eichmann's capture, team member Rafael Eitan, the operation's com- mander and later a prominent Israeli politician, said that "Thegreatest contribution was by Zvi Aharoni. He found Eichmann and infused us all with the passion of the historic importance of bringing him to trial. Without people like Aharoni, it would not have succeeded. He was the one the place where Eichmann was hiding." Aharoni's son, Dr. Amram 'Aharoni, told an Israeli news- paper that his father also was involved in the identification of the Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele in the Brazilian jungles and in the failed attempts to cap- ture him. Aharoni was born Her- mann Arendt in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1921, and immi- grated to Palestine as a child. Fie served in the British army and then joined the Mossad, Israel's secret service. .. Al Gordon, Emmy-winning comedy writer, 89 A1 Gordon, who parlayed a chance wartime meeting with an entertainment troupe into an Emmy Award-winning career as a writer for Jaclg Benny, theSmothers Brothers and many-others; died May 23 at 89. Times by his son Neil, Gordon was in the Army Air Forces on a small island in the Azores during World War II when a plane carrying an Army entertainment unit landed there with engine trouble. Fie later kibitzedwith the troupe's writers as they worked on jokes for an upcoming show while waiting for repairs. After the war, one of the writers remembered him and asked him to join them in Hollywood "and write radio shows." Shortly after he teamed with Hal Goldman and pitched a sketch to Jack Benny for his "valet" character, Rochester. They joined Benny's staff in 1950, just as the show moved to TV, and stayed with him for more than two decades. Gordon and Goldman shared two Emmy Awardswith fellow Benny writers during that period. other Emmy nominations and wrote for "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," "The Flip Wilson Show," "The Carol Bctrnett Show," "That's My Mama," "Three's Company" and other shows. He was born in Akron, Ohio, and moved with his family to the Bronx section of New York as a child. Richard Tapper, 35, chi- ropractor and community leader The death of Richard Tap- per, a family man, passionate hockey fan and community leader committed to good works, has made an impact on his hometown of Wirmipeg, Canada. Tapper, a chiroprac- tor'and prominent figure in the western Canadian city's Jewish community, died at 35 on May 19 less than five months after being diagnosed with cancer. family and many friends who have expressed their sadness about his passing. A local newspaper wrote that "Richard Tapper was one of those golden young men, blessed with a lovely family, a successful career, a com- munity to which he was deeply committed and a sense of joy that spilled over into every aspect of his life." Tapper had been set to receive the Winnipeg Jewish Federation's Harry Silverberg Young Leader of Distinction Award for his volunteer work in the Jewish community, in school, at camp, as a member of the Combined Jewish Appeal. as the author of two books and the head of the United Way's chiropractic division. The ceremonywent ahead four days after his death. Write to the Eulogizer at PAGE 13A I ences a figment of her imagination? Do the central characters learn any lessons from what they have gone through? These untied ends are intentional, he says. "I've never written anything that has a real, unambiguous happy ending." Steve Lipman is a staff writeP for The New York Jewish Week, from which this article was reprinted by permission. The Eulogizer." Spy, Emmy winner, community leader