Hadassah Magazine's Guide to Jewish Literature – March/April 2020
A selection of books to entice any reader. Everything from novels to nonfiction, memoirs to mysteries, cookbooks to kids’ books.
In stark contrast to his first novel, The Speechwriter, Jerry Rosenberg’s second publication is a gripping personal nonfiction account of his only granddaughter’s arduous journey of addiction and subsequent recovery. Throughout this simultaneously tragic and hopeful story, there is an underlying theme exploring family dynamics as well as the basic nature of the indiscriminate disease of substance abuse disorder.
Available on Amazon in both paperback and as an e-book.
Interweaving mystery and historical research, The Paris Photo reveals wartime traumas rippling into the present. American soldier Ben Gordon assists a Parisian Jewish family just after Liberation in 1944. Decades later, Ben’s daughter finds a photograph of her late father in Paris with unknown women and a boy. Who were they? Why did her father never speak of them? She travels to France to learn, discovering much more than she anticipated. Named one of the “Best Books of 2019” by Kirkus Reviews, The Paris Photo richly depicts the human emotion that pervades our memories of the past.
Rabbi Dr. Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (1924-2014) lived a calling to reach and touch people in deeply spiritual, supportive, and Jewishly profound ways. These are 250 powerful excerpts from Reb Zalman’s encounters with seekers and colleagues from every walk of life. You will discover what he said and did that can make a powerful positive difference when applied in your own relationships, holidays, life cycle rituals, and much more.
Shira was cradled in her father’s left arm. His right hand held a basket of deli goodies to be checked-out with the cashier. The line of customers was long, but the wait gave Shira’s daddy the opportunity to shower her with kisses, head to toe. As the line moved forward, on an unimagined path of Jewish mindfulness, baby Shira and her daddy eventually reached the cashier. He took the basket and announced, “I see you brought your mezuzah with you.” The reader will explore stories, commentaries and scenarios for discovering the mindfulness of Jewish values a.k.a. “mezuzahness.”
Available in paperback or e-book at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
“Magnificent… a novel of epic proportions that tells of three strong women, a nun, a rabbi and a minister as they face the struggle for legitimacy and recognition…”—Rabbi Stephen L. Fuchs. A Catholic Sister wants to become a priest. One of the first women rabbis and one of the first women Presbyterian pastors must choose between their lovers and their careers. When they attend a dinner to receive an award, each recalls fifty years of her life and journey to forge her path and find her voice and each makes the decision that will forever change her life.
In 1905, when Rebecca leaves her shtetl in Ukraine to join Samuel in Milwaukee and Ingrid leaves Norway to become the Picture Bride of Lars, a farmer in North Dakota, by mistake officials at Ellis Island send them to each other’s destination. Lost in alien cultures, they struggle to return to their fiancés. But the love that blossoms between Rebecca and Lars threatens their plans.
The Chakra Haggadah is an alternative Passover prayer book encouraging spiritual enlightenment. It connects Jewish tradition and Yoga practice in a colorful and creative way, highlighting the shared and revered grounding principals of both cultures. The Chakra service focuses on freedom — understanding, appreciating and expanding on all the liberties we have in our lives today! Shorter than most traditional haggadahs, this book still includes all the familiar yummy blessings, “The Story” and some concluding fun.
Paperback. 18 Pages. $36 + shipping (Set of 6). For more information, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the full version of the essay titled “Henrietta Szold’s Children” published in the Jan/Feb issue of Hadassah Magazine, a story mostly unknown outside of Israel. This book portrays the deportation of Jews to Siberian Labor Camps in 1941, and the sickness and death they endured before this daring rescue. That Joe Rosenbaum and over a thousand Jewish children survived such a three-year journey is a powerful reminder of the miraculous strength of the human will to simply survive.
$24.95 paperback, 288 pages. Available at Amazon.com.
A feel-good memoir about bashert, friendship, faith and love. Join Fern and a colorful cast of characters in her modern, middle-class, suburban Long Island world where she one day gets the “big idea” to learn mah jongg. This is a heartwarming story about the wonderful things that can happen when five women are destined to come together to play an old Chinese game, sitting around a table with 152 tiles, dice and a mah jongg card.
Julie Zuckerman’s moving and engrossing debut novel-in-stories, The Book of Jeremiah, tells the story of awkward but endearing Jeremiah Gerstler—the son of Jewish immigrants, brilliant political science professor, husband, father. In a tale spanning eight decades and interwoven with the Jewish experience of the twentieth century, Zuckerman charts Jeremiah’s life from boyhood, through service in WWII, to marriage and children, a professorship and finally retirement, with compassion, honesty, and a respect that even Gerstler himself would find touching.
$17.95. Available anywhere books are sold including www.Press53.com.
Comprehensive and beautifully illustrated guide to the earliest Mah-Jongg sets in the U.S. It encompasses the geography, history, Mah-Jongg’s exceptional importance in 1920s popular culture and is the only published documentation of the Jewish contribution to that. The book includes game components and their functions in actual play. The various 1920s sets are detailed and illustrated for their boxes, tiles, dice, wind discs, counters, instruction booklets, racks, and tables. This welcome book is sure to be appreciated by countless Mah-Jongg players and collectors.
Softcover, 101 pages, 8½” x 11,” Available on Amazon.com. $24.99; Kindle e-book coming soon.
Good Heart interweaves the stories of a Jewish and a Christian family over three generations. We follow their lives through adulthood, and characters from vastly different backgrounds are pulled together by twists of destiny, drawing them all to one special place: Israel. Good Heart is embedded with gems of Israel’s history and culture, giving nuanced insights through tangible human stories. From an Israeli army base to an Indiana evangelical church, from World War II Austria to the Sudanese desert, exotic locales pepper this adventure with the ultimate discovery that even those who seem worlds apart are all interconnected.
“Who doesn’t want to live wholeheartedly?” Moments of the Heart is a guide of positive teachings that unites heart, mind, and soul. A book infused with personal stories, Jewish wisdom and knowledge of the Hebrew language. A graceful balance of simplicity, clarity, and joy. Appropriate for teen discussions and adult learning. A guidepost to ponder the life anyone wants to lead.
Can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and where all books are sold.
Born behind the Iron Curtain after the end of the Holocaust, the real-life story of one determined child of survivors ongoing fight for her family home; from Transylvania to Antwerp, to New York, to Bucharest’s High Court, to the Human Rights Court, the writer passionately tells of her effort for justice for the survivors and their heirs.
Available at Amazon.com. Paperback – 154 pages – $12.99. Kindle – $9.99, Bookbub – free sample.
A cartoon haggadah that follows the traditional steps of the seder. Written in a concise, contemporary style, it includes songs, games, recipes and prayers in English, Hebrew and transliterated Hebrew. It makes the seder fun and meaningful for family, guests and even for those “who don’t know how to ask.”
Softcover, 48 pages. Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, $11.95.
The Judaism of Sinai and the Judaism of Auschwitz are merging, resulting in a new vision of Judaism that is only beginning to take shape. This book outlines that work-in-progress. “Compelling and provocative.” —Yossi Klein Halevi, author, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor. “Should be read by every Jew who cares about Judaism.” — Rabbi Dr. Irving “Yitz” Greenberg, author, The Jewish Way.
Bella Abzug’s promotion of women’s and gay rights, universal childcare, green energy and more provoked not only fierce opposition from Republicans but a split within the Democratic party. Leandra Ruth Zarnow’s biography of Abzug is a story for our times.
Available wherever books or sold or order online at hup.harvard.edu. Harvard University Press.
A long-forgotten painting improbably hanging in Vatican City spurs Lily Kovner, “The Jewish Miss Marple,” to explore what happened to family members she met only once before World War II. Parallel secrets of identity, abuse and injustice inflicted on modern and legendary heroines emerge in a place where Jewish life thrived before the decimation of the Holocaust and the Iron Curtain. Based on a story in the author’s family.
Winner of the prestigious Sydney Taylor Book Award in the Young Adult category, Someday We Will Fly is a heart-wrenching coming-of-age story set during World War II. In this lushly written historical novel, Lillia and her father and sister flee Warsaw during the Holocaust and take refuge in Shanghai. This powerful book is a must have for every Jewish library.
To purchase visit PRH.com.
An out-of-this-world Passover fantasy! When Asteroid and her parents get stuck in outer space for Passover, Asteroid plans a Passover seder for her family that is truly out-of-this-world! With Jupiter’s moons for matzoh balls and the Big Dipper for a ladle, you’ve never seen a Passover seder like this one!
Hardcover, 40 pages. Available from Intergalactic Afikoman, www.IntergalacticAfikoman.com or wherever books are sold.
This is a coming-of-age story of a young Jewish girl chased in Western Europe during World War II. Like a great adventure story, the book describes the childhood and adolescence of a Viennese girl growing up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, the rise of Nazism, World War II, and the religious persecution of Jews throughout Europe.
Available in paperback & e-book, 296 pages. Pb, 978-1-55753-808-6 © Purdue University Press, 2019. To order, visit www.edithcord.com, $24.95.
Award-winning writer Matti Friedman’s meticulously researched and masterfully told tale of Israel’s first spies has all the tropes of an espionage novel, including duplicity, betrayal, disguise, clandestine meetings, the bluff, and the double bluff—but it’s all true. The New York Times Book Review raves, “Wondrous . . . Compelling . . . Piercing.”
Paperback, 272 pages. Available wherever books are sold. $16.95.
“An intellectual tour de force.” – Ronnie Po-Chia Hsia, author of Trent 1475. A landmark history of the antisemitic blood libel myth—how it took root in Europe, spread with the invention of the printing press, and persists today.
Available wherever books or sold or order online at hup.harvard.edu. Harvard University Press.
In the heat of wartime Manila, 23-year-old American GI Kurt Berlin is recruited by the OSS to return to Europe to aid in the interrogation of captured Nazis. A refugee himself, Berlin discovers the Nazi he’s interpreting is responsible for much of the torment and misery he endured during his own escape with his family. And that very same Nazi may hold the key to finding the girl he left behind. Will the gravitational pull of revenge dislodge Kurt’s moral compass?
Christian missionaries calling themselves messianic “Jews,” Jews ingratiating themselves to Evangelical Christians for their support of Israel, the overuse of the term “Judeo-Christian,” and the increasing use of Jewish rituals in Christian churches are among the factors that blur the lines between Judaism and Christianity. Judaism and Christianity: A Contrast explains, from a Jewish perspective, the irreconcilable differences and mutually exclusive beliefs of the two faiths.
Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble in hardcover, paperback and in all e-book formats.