‘Kavanah and Holy Days’ (CreateSpace, 2013)
By Stephen Astor
The novel “Kavanah and Holy Days” is a Jewish coming-of-age story, set against the backdrop of 19th-century Eastern Europe, where Jews lived under the oppressive Romanov regime and prayed to God to send the Mosheeach to rescue them.
In the book, part two in “The Second Coming of Moses” series, Moshe asks why Jewish people celebrate Rosh Hashanah in Tishri, the seventh month of the year, when God has commanded the Hebrew people to mark Nissan the first month of the year.
He wonders why his parents allow his sister to hang a mizrach on the south-facing wall of the family sukkah when tradition dictates that a mizrach must face east.
These and other questions confound young Moshe as he comes of age in the Jewish Pale of Settlement and tries to align his religion’s sometimes conflicting customs and traditions with God’s intention for the Hebrew people.
At the same time, his parents, Yocheved and Amram, try to understand God’s intention for their son, as they have arranged to adopt Moshe out to Tsar Alexander’s daughter and worry that living in a Christian home will cause him to lose his Jewish identity. What can a parent do to fortify a child to remain true to God?
A Boston transplant, Astor has lived in Los Altos for more than 40 years.
To purchase “Kavanah and Holy Days,” visit CreateSpace.com (No. 4178404) or Amazon.com.
‘Know Thine Enemy’ (CreateSpace, 2012)
By Judith Shoemaker-Hill
In the mystery “Know Thine Enemy,” Tawny Bradford is the highest-rated talk show host in California, but her faith and family give her life meaning. When both desert her, so does her hope. Her husband, Pastor Luke Bradford, leads the largest Protestant congregation in the state. Luke is one of the Four Fathers, spiritual shepherds aligned in the effort to stop President Sorrell Veasy from purging God from the schools, the public square and the U.S. Constitution.
When Luke disappears, along with Assistant District Attorney Brenda Richards and $50,000 of his church’s funds, Tawny relies on San Francisco police detectives Clive Brody and Will Harris to find them, as well as whoever is responsible for murdering young women of faith and leaving behind the message “No Allegiance, No Mercy.”
In a matter of days, the spiritual war escalates, and the people Tawny loves are exposed, exploited, jailed and martyred for their faith.
Shoemaker-Hill is a Los Altos resident.
To purchase “Know Thine Enemy,” visit Amazon.com.