Tag Archives: Afikomen Judaica


Contractor mistake damages lone redwood tree at library

The redwood tree at the West Branch of the Berkeley Library that will have to be taken down. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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A towering redwood tree that was to be the focal point of the garden at the new West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library was so damaged by the contractor that it will have to be taken down, library officials announced Tuesday.

The contract with West Bay Builders required the company to take precautions to preserve the root structure of the redwood, but those measures were not followed, according to a letter Donna Corbeil, director of library services, sent out to neighbors. The contractor damaged the roots while excavating around the tree.

Dan Gallagher, the city’s forestry engineer, recently examined the tree’s roots and determined that they were so damaged that the tree is unstable and unhealthy. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

2117 san pablo
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GREEN SOLES On Fourth Street, the space vacated in January by A La Folie has been snapped up by Convert Shoes. The owners say they opened the store “to give our customers more of what they clearly want — sustainably made shoes that are simply great looking.” Brands include Timberland, Doc Marten, Keds, Seychelles, New Balance, Redwing, TOMS, Palladium, and Native. They also offer collaborations with Jeffrey Campbell (vegan) and J Shoes. Convert is at 1809B Fourth Street, tel: 510-649 9759.

While we’re on Fourth, it’s worth knowing that the street is holding a Spring Sidewalk Sale on Saturday April 14, 12-5pm, where merchants will be offering 40-60% off prices. Live music, 12-4pm. More details on the Fourth Street website.

FOOD OUT DRUGS IN Despite the best lobbying efforts of Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, who asked the owners of the old Andronico’s space on Telegraph Avenue to rent it to another grocery chain rather than a pharmacy, CVS is moving in, according to the Daily Cal. The Andronico’s closed in November shortly after the University Avenue store was also shuttered in the wake of the parent company declaring bankruptcy. The new CVS will be up and running by early 2013 if all goes to according to schedule. … Continue reading »

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What is it with this new generation of Jewish writers?

Rebecca Spence
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If nothing else, Berkeley writer Rebecca Spence has chosen an irresistible title for her Sunday talk at Afikomen: Portnoy’s Restraint: How Jewish-American Writers Have Learned to Stop Kvetching (and Love Being Jewish)

Spence, who has her MFA from Bennington College and worked as the West Coast correspondent for The Forward, is writing a Jewish-themed novel of her own.

In her talk, she will discuss Jewish-American writers — from Philip Roth to Michael Chabon, from Nicole Krauss to her husband Jonathan Safran … Continue reading »

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A most unusual Haggadah on display in Berkeley

Illustration from Arthur Szyk Haggadah
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During World War II the man who drew the most piercing caricatures of Adolf Hitler was himself a Jew who had escaped from Nazi-dominated Europe.

Arthur Szyk, who was born in Poland in 1894 and who moved to the United States in 1941, drew international attention for his drawings that lampooned the Axis powers. His work was exhibited at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, appeared in popular magazines like Time, Collier’s and Esquire, and was reproduced on posters and postcards.

But some of Szyk ‘s work also had a religious tone, and this will be the subject of a talk by Irvin Ungar at Afikomen on Claremont Avenue on April 14th at 5:30 pm. In the 1930s, Szyk made 48 drawings to illustrate a Haggadah, the book Jews use during the Passover service. While the book recounted the Jews’ escape from Egypt and 40 years of wandering, Szyk also included a modern, political touch. … Continue reading »

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Local business

Why is that parsley sprig on the Seder plate anyway?

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When Ira Steingroot started working at Cody’s Books in 1976, he noticed that the store only had a small collection of Jewish books. Since Passover was approaching, Steingroot decided to stock some more haggadot, the book Jews follow during the Passover Seder.

That casual decision launched Steingroot on a 34-year quest to discover and understand haggadot from around the world. Over the years, he brought in more than 300 different kinds of haggadot to Cody’s, including ones in Yiddish, … Continue reading »

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