Juliene Berk

For reviews and comments, please see Discussion section.


GLIMPSES OF SOUTHERN JEWISH ROOTS
A collection of original short stories about real people and actual events involving Jews who arrived in the South in the early part of the last century. We see glimpses of what life was like for them in the New World. The stories are rich with the customs, attitudes and struggles of these newcomers and the ways they created to adapt to America. A piece of living Jewish history can be seen in the humorous and moving tales of the people who helped make it. Here are the new immigrants interacting with their new country and with each other.

CALL HER BLESSED:
Lara Moskovitz Berkovitz wrote her story in her own unique voice and language. It reveals how a shy uncertain girl, through struggles, hardships and great losses, became an extraordinary woman. Her moving memoir is embedded in a narrative by her daughter giving the history, background and setting of her life. The events of the early 20th century played out powerfully against the lives of Lara and her newly southern American Jewish family.
At the end Lara wrote:
"You get what you Build. That's my Life."
Please see DISCUSSION section for REVIEWS and COMMENTS

TO ORDER: please email: JulieneBerk@​aol.com.


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The second edition of THE DOWN COMFORTER How to Beat Depression and Pull Yourself Out of the Blues is a classic that has received outstanding endorsements from top psychiatrists and professionals. Many clinicians, neurologists, and tresearchers have written about depression in theoretical/​clinical terms, but this book is different. It is written from the point of view of the sufferer.
Written by a woman who learned on her own hide how to beat depression, The Down Comforter offers practical ways to help yourself in a humorous, witty style. The insightful stories and breakthrough understandings were carved out of the author's own pain. Her unique weapons can be used by themselves or in conjunction with other therapies.
Unqualified approval and recommendation, include:
“Profound psychological insights which overwhelm one all the more because of their deceptively simple formulations.” Bertram Schaffner, M.D. William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry
“An enormously perceptive book which moves easily from the ‘how to’ to profound exposition which suits the lay person and the clinician as well.” Beryl Lovitz, M.D., P.A.
“A light touch on a heavy subject by one who understands the depth of despair and who counsels with wisdom.” Dr. Leon Salzman, Prof. of Clinical Psychiatry Georgetown University Medical School; author of The Obsessive Personality; Obsession to Kill; Developments in Psychoanalysis.
“I recommend this book to colleagues, friends and patients.” Leah Davidson, M.D.
“Anyone whose depression will allow them to read this book will no doubt find some part of it beneficial.” Dr. Jan Fawcett, Professor and Chairman, Dept. of Psychiatry, Rush Medical College and Rush Presbyterian/​St. Luke’s Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois.
“… This is the best first aid on what to do until the psychoanalyst gets there.” Dr. Edward J. Hornick, Chief of Clinical Psychiatry, Manhattan Psychiatric Center, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Einstein College of Medicine.
For review copies contact: Julieneberk@​aol.com.


WORKS:
CREATIVE NON-FICTION

CALL HER BLESSED: Biography/Memoir473 pages with over 160 original photographs and illustrations.
The inspiring life of Lara Moskovitz Berkovitz who through courage, stamina, wisdom and love became a fully realized woman before there was such a thing as "feminism." The story tells how she grew in strength and understanding as she survived heartbreak and terrible loss to make her life one of rich fulfillment.

The author says about this work:

From early childhood I wanted to know about my mother's life. "Tell me about when you were a little girl" was my open sesame to a whole wonderful world.

As I grew older, I heard more and more of the chapters that filled the book inside her, and the people she spoke about took on substance -- as if I, myself, had known them in a different time and place.

One day three or four years before she died, my mother said to me, "Why don't you write my story? It's very interesting." When I answered that I couldn't write her story, only she could, she sat down and began to write. A week or so later, she showed me a sheaf of 67 pages. Other than to ask a few questions, I did nothing. After her death, I was too full of the pain of loss to open the manila envelope that contained her angular writing. The manuscript sat in a drawer gathering importance and waited.

Though I was filled with her stories that supplied me with pictures and sounds, places and people, thirteen years would pass before I was able to begin to write her story. In her writing, she indicated only sketchily the events that caused her great suffering. I would fill in the gaps, she knew.

Lara Moskovitz wrote in her memoir:

My Father was in the Catle Business he made a poor living but My Mother never complained they lived pecefully although My Mother was diferent from my Father he liked to sing & Drink Wine & Dance she didnt even bother with the neighbors my Father used to do what he wanted & she did what she wanted they never argued about anything, they had tree Sons before I was born naturally they were happy to have a girl...

Lara Moskovitz at 14 1/2

The Moskovitz Family


GLIMPSES OF SOUTHERN JEWISH ROOTS
A collection of short stories and vignettes based on family characters.

Here is a quote from the narrative text of CALL HER BLESSED:

Used to a life of comfort, after her marriage to Yankel Moskovitz, Gittel Nachman was soon measuring the amount of water to add to the soup pot mouth by mouth. At first she added a cup for Itzick, their first born, then a second for Julius and a third for Shruel. By the time Lara, her younger sister Sophica, and Ruben came along, the cups to be added called for a cauldron.

GLIMPSES OF SOUTHERN JEWISH ROOTS

REVIEWS:

"... a delightful collection of vignettes..."
American Jewish Historical Society

"... collection of 22 charming stories..."
Florida Today

"... true stories about how it was in America when Eastern European Jews were fleeing pogroms and poverty... Hardships are combined with humor as the extended Bercovici-Berkovitz-Berk family adapted to their new country... Yankel comments on what he sees, thinks and feels in the manner of Sholem Aleichem's Tevye..."
The Las Vegas Israelite

... GLIMPSES OF SOUTHERN JEWISH ROOTS is a collection of short stories about real people and events involving Jews who arrived in the South 100 years ago. Also included in the book is "Yankel In Amerikeh," a group of vignettes told in the voice of one of the immigrants speaking his new language in a distinctive way..."
Daytona News-Journal

"... a 125 pager worthy of mention... well-written and interesting..."
The JEWISH WORLD Northeastern New York, Vermont and Western Massachusetts

"... The adjectives that came to mind while reading these works were pleasant and charming... Berk's loving descriptions makes it easy to see that she truly cares about these people, and readers may find themselves feeling the same. And then there's Yankel, the funny elder who has almost disappeared from the American scene. I found his monologues on life amusing... If you laugh or groan with pleasure, you'll find yourself liking Yankel."
Rabbi Rachel Esserman, The Reporter, The Jewish Federation of Broome County, Binghamton, New York.



THE LIFE AND LOVES OF CATSANOVA
Fiction based on the love/adventures of Casanova.

ROSA BELLA TAKES CARE OF THE WORLD (PLAY) with klezmer music by Yale Strom
Based on a true story set in America's South and Havana, Cuba at the beginning of the 20th century which deals with an Eastern European Jewish tradition of "special women."



GALATEA
Hugo von Hofmannsthal is credited with creating the greatest female character ever to tread the operatic boards--Marie Therese (Die Marschallin in the opera DER ROSENKAVALIER). She was his Muse, his Goddess, his ideal woman.
He created his GALATEA according to patriarchal culture which not only put a female Muse at the beck and call of the artist, but also dictated that ALL incarnations of Aphrodite--all females --be innately subservient to males.
In this play the artist's creation comes to life as a vibrant, seeking, uncertain, loving human being who is now free to be her SELF and to love whomever and however she chooses. This famous myth is stood on its heels breaking tradition by regarding it from the matriarchal point of view.



SELECTED WORKS:

Creative Non-Fiction
REVIEW: Most stories involving American Jews involve some aspect of the Holocaust, whether it is escape from Hitler's Germany, the recounting of its horrors, or of post-war angst and guilt. Few books address pre-World War II Jewish life, and even fewer the life of Romanian Jews in early 20th century Florida. Juliene Berk's new book, Call Her Blessed, chronicles the life of Romanian Jewish immigrants. Centering on the author's mother Lara, and based on her diary written in what must be heavily accented English, the book, although a bit slow at first to hold your attention, develops into a gripping saga of life in the developing South in the early 20th century. Beginning with Iasi, Romania, the author gradually and painstakingly develops the story of Lara, starting with her childhood a rearing by relatives, her courtship by Bercu Bercovici, the author's father, their emigration to the US, and their life in Jacksonville, Florida. Although religious and ethnic persecution forms an understandable and important subtext in stories of Jewish life, the author, although describing several incidents, most which do not directly involve her family, keeps them peripheral to the fundamental theme. The story centers around the author's mother, whose courage, beauty, grace, strength, stamina, wisdom, patience, and big heart makes me wonder how so much goodness could be found in one person. Through this portrait, Ms. Berk provides a backdrop of the urbanizing South which is surprising in its seeming ethnic tolerance, progressive outlook, and prominence, now only recently being regained. Woven into the tale are two world wars, both of which directly affected the family, the deadly 1918 flu epidemic, the tragic lynching of Leo Frank in Atlanta, and the deadly, barbaric pogrom in Kishinev. Embellished with snippets from Lara's diary, photographs, and extrapolations based on the recollections of relatives and friends, Ms. Berk spins a compelling tale of cultural assimilation, idiosyncrasies, hardship, and success. Her family, despite numerous business successes and failures, and personal triumphs and tragedies, perseveres, multiplies, and prospers. Indeed, the book, for the atmosphere it conveys, is in essence a paean to Lara, whose love for her family and her family's love for her suffuses the book with a warm glow. For anyone who shares my Jewish Romanian/Florida background, this book is an absolute must. For those curious about lesser-known aspects of the early 20th century south, or for those interested in pre-World War II southern Jewish life, or about Jewish immigrant culture, it is highly recommended.
e.g. Fiction, History, Magazine Articles, etc. goes here
Short stories and vignettes based on family members in CALL HER BLESSED
The world-renowned lover returns in the being of an irresistible cat.
PLAYS
Based on a true story set in America's South and Havana, Cuba at the beginning of the 20th century which deals with an Eastern European Jewish tradition of "special women."
Hugo von Hofmannsthal is credited with creating the greatest female character ever to tread the operatic boards--Marie Therese (Die Marschallin in the opera DER ROSENKAVALIER). She was his Muse, his Goddess, his ideal woman. He created his GALATEA according to patriarchal culture which not only put a female Muse at the beck and call of the artist, but also dictated that ALL incarnations of Aphrodite--all females --be innately subservient to males. In this play the artist's creation comes to life as a vibrant, seeking, uncertain, loving human being who is now free to be her SELF and to love whomever and however she chooses. This famous myth is stood on its heels breaking tradition by regarding it from the matriarchal point of view.

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