NEW MILFORD – Founded in 1999 to publish “fine writing of all sorts,” The Toby Press is based in Jerusalem and has maintained its U.S. warehouse in New Milford for the last decade. From its beginning, The Press emphasized Israeli and European literature in English translation, but published a wide range of fiction, occasional non-fiction, and poetry, from Etgar Keret of Israel, to Anna Enquist of the Netherlands and Donald Harington of the U.S.
In 2008, The Toby Press acquired Koren Publishers Jerusalem, a venerable publishing house established in 1962 by master typographer and graphic artist Eliyahu Koren. Koren publishes Jewish religious texts, and is best known for its acclaimed edition of the Tanakh (Jewish Bible) and Siddur. In 2009, the publishers entered the U.S. market with “The Koren Sacks Siddur,” a Hebrew-English prayer book with translation and commentary by Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the UK.
In 2009, The Toby Press also created Maggid Books, a division for books of contemporary Jewish thought by leading rabbis and scholars including Rabbi Sacks, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Dr. Erica Brown, and others. The Toby Press continues to publish select titles, and is currently focusing on developing the Koren and Maggid brands.
With summer in full swing, The Toby Press offered these reading selections:
“The Prime Ministers” by Yehuda Avner
A National Jewish Book Award Finalist, “The Prime Ministers” is the first and only insider account of Israeli politics from the founding of the Jewish State to the near-present day. It reveals stunning details of life-and-death decision-making, top-secret military operations and high level peace negotiations, focusing on a slew of world figures, such as Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger, Yasser Arafat, Princess Diana and the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
“And This Is the Light” by Lea Goldberg
This is the first English edition of Israeli author Lea Goldberg’s only novel. Goldberg is one of Israel’s most beloved writers; her poems, plays and children’s books, which have been translated into many languages, are part of the canon of Israeli literature. But Goldberg’s only novel, “Vehu Ha’Or,” has never appeared in English.
“And This Is the Light” is set in the summer of 1931, when 20-year-old Nora Krieger returns to her small-town home in Lithuania from university in Berlin ready to present her new, mature self. Instead, her time at home becomes a period of unrequited love, difficult memories and introspection, when she must accept the limits imposed on her by a class-conscious, increasingly antisemitic society. A lyrical coming-of-age story by one of Israel’s most important writers, beautifully translated.
“Thera” by Zeruya Shalev
Zeruya Shalev is one of Israel’s bestselling and most highly acclaimed authors.
“Thera” is the story of Ella Miller, a 36-year-old archaeologist studying one of the largest volcanic blasts in history, the famous Thera eruption. She develops a novel theory that the devastating blast sparked the biblical ten plagues, which led to the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt. Like her research subject, Ella’s life is undergoing tectonic shifts. Her marriage to her former mentor has come to an end. Her relationships with her intellectually towering father and his servile wife are unbearable. Her young son, Gili, swings wildly from adaptability to despair. Her new lover must face up to his own recently destroyed marriage. Ella seeks to build a new kingdom atop the ruins of the old, but murmurings beneath the family edifice create fault lines that threaten to destabilize her future.
“Hear O Lord” by Eliaz Cohen
“Hear O Lord” is the first Hebrew-English collection of poems from the Israeli peace activist and poet, Eliaz Cohen. His work, controversial and transcendent, confronts primary theological, psychological and political issues of Jewish existence. “Hear O Lord,” which appeared in Hebrew as “Shema Adonai” in 2004, serves as a chronicle of the poet’s experiences of the Second Intifada. Cohen received a prestigious Prime Minister’s Prize and an Avichai Sabbatical Prize in 2006 for the critically acclaimed work. He also was dismissed from his position as a social worker in a Jerusalem school because of it.
From Maggid Books
“In the Narrow Places” by Dr. Erica Brown: A book of daily inspiration for The Three Weeks (July 19-Aug. 9)
Dr. Erica Brown is one of the foremost Jewish educators of our time. In “In the Narrow Places,” she discusses the period of mourning commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples. For each day of the Three Weeks, she presents a short, inspirational essay based on biblical texts followed by a kavana – a spiritual focus that involves reflection, imagination or action – to transform these somber days of remembrance into a period of introspection and spiritual growth.
“Listening to God” by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin
See the divine in every human encounter. Be receptive to God’s voice. Act out of faith. These are just a few of the life lessons Rabbi Shlomo Riskin imparts in this collection of personal stories. Rabbi Riskin takes us from his grandmother’s Brooklyn Shabbat table to the vibrant community of Efrat, Israel, with stops in Russian Jewish communities struggling to maintain their ethnic identities, New York synagogues tackling political controversies and much more. Through these poignant, entertaining, often humorous tales, Rabbi Riskin passes on wisdom for the next generation and, indeed for us all.