Hadassah Magazine's Guide to Jewish Literature – November/December 2020
A selection of books to entice any reader. Everything from novels to nonfiction, memoirs to mysteries, cookbooks to kids’ books.
On October 27, 2018, three congregations were holding their morning Shabbat services at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh when a lone gunman entered and opened fire, resulting in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history. The essays in this anthology, written by local journalists, academics, spiritual leaders, and other community members, reveal a city’s attempts to come to terms with an unfathomable horror.
$25.00; hardcover (ISBN 978-0-8229-4651-9) and e-book. Available from the bookseller of your choice.
When their marriage – and their Victorian home – go up in flames, a couple must face the charred remains of both. But did the fire rob them of their past or free them from it? The novel draws on the biblical tale of Lilith, Adam’s first wife, who is portrayed as a woman of fierce independence and unbridled sexuality. The protagonist sees his wife as his “Lilith” – until he unearths the tragic roots of her fervor. A love story like no other. “With prose that is insightful and slightly mystical, Golan questions the impossibility of happiness.”- Kirkus Reviews
Ever wonder what would happen if one of Judaism’s fiercest feminist theological minds trained itself on understanding the teachings of a tzaddik who had manifested his reincarnated soul in her new shelter cat? Can you imagine this gray tabby’s routine and unusual behaviors imparting the profound insights and moral lessons found in Judaism’s most revered texts and practices? Wonder and imagine no more. Here you encounter not only the sage Mysticat but also Rabbi Adler’s creativity, erudition and mischievous humor, as they connect us effortlessly to Jewish mysticism, rabbinic thought and six thousand years of cherished tradition.
In 1939 Leah, her parents and sister leave Hamburg and sail to Cuba aboard the Saint Louis, a ship full of Jews trying to escape from the Nazis. Upon arrival in Havana, the government returned them to Europe. Leah watches how all her dreams, her family and her violins aspirations fade away. Holocaust memories will haunt Leah, along with the tattooed numbers in her arm.
230 pages – available at Amazon.com.
After a series of events rocked her world, in the midst of juggling a successful career, marriage and motherhood, the author found herself being irresistibly drawn back to her nascent Judaism and becoming an ordained rabbi in her fifties. Now a beloved leader in her community, Rabbi Targan inspires us to imagine that it’s never too late to find your true calling and step into your power—no matter what your age.
Available in paperback or e-book on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com or IndieBound.org.
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.
From the award-winning author of The Dream Stitcher comes Synchronicities on the Avenue of the Saints, a smart blend of magical realism, suspense, romance and wit. Characters from past and present offer allegorical insight on our faltering contemporary world, as they uncover ways to heal both it and themselves.
Paperback and e-book available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent book stores. $5.99 e-book, $14.99 paperback.
Set in pre-World War II Baltimore, Baltimore Logic tells the story of Martin Victor, a Jewish history teacher (and a U.S. Naval Reserve officer) who gets drafted into a counter-intelligence unit composed of a diverse collection of FBI, Office of Naval Intelligence and Baltimore City Police Department personnel. Tasked with protecting local defense firms from sophisticated Axis spies, Martin and his colleagues play a complex zero-sum game of espionage within Baltimore’s pressure-cooker of ethnic, religious, and racial communities. Poignant and heroic (in a classical Greek sense), Baltimore Logic rivets the reader’s attention from its mysterious beginning to its mystical end.
When matriarch Ida escapes a pogrom for America determined to save her remaining family, she cannot foresee the struggles of her children and grandchildren. Through war, mental illness, secrets and betrayal, each generation’s actions impact the lives of the next. As family members grapple with their differences, they learn that family loyalty anchors them in the world and helps them to make a life.
In this exciting and engaging book, Shabtai Shavit, director of the Mossad from 1989 to 1996, combines memoir with sober reflection to reveal what happened during the seven years he led what is widely recognized today as one of the most powerful and proficient intelligence agencies in the world. “A well-documented . . . logistical delineation of decades of sensitive Israeli security and intelligence concerns.” —Kirkus Reviews.
380 pages, 49 halftones, $29 hb. Order: (800) 848-6224 or undpress.nd.edu.
Have you ever wondered why Jews have won so many Nobel Prizes? With only 0.2% of the world’s population, Jews have been awarded almost one out of four of all Nobel Prizes in medicine, physics and chemistry, while American Jews have received 37% of U.S. awards. These disproportionate numbers testify to Jewish exceptionalism.
At 62, BJ is doing fine — until her widowed 55-year-old sister, Iris, moves in and seems determined to stay. But when BJ uses the Temple’s email to announce an Over 50’s Singles Night to find Iris a new husband, all the wrong people show up. Misunderstandings abound. Old secrets crop up. Will love prevail? Of course! Winner of the Madcap Award for romantic comedy.
Available in softcover ($14.99, 244 pages) or e-book ($4.99) from Amazon, other online sellers, or order from any store where books are sold.
Mitch and Debbi were bashert. But a terrible accident paralyzed Mitch. Staying with him in the hospital, Debbi wrote notes filled with love, hope and plans for someday. Those recently discovered notes became this story of love that transcends time and space. Of faith that grows stronger in the face of the unimaginable. Of the healing strength of family and friends. Of hope that life will go on. Of someday. This powerful book reminds us that “love is as strong as death,” (Song of Songs 8:6). A sad, but beautiful book. Rabbi Beverly W. Magidson.
Available in paperback on Amazon and e-book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Apple iBooks.
I am Anne Frank is the 22nd book in the New York Times bestselling series of biographies about heroes. Ordinary People Change the World is an engaging biography series that focuses on the traits that made our heroes great — the traits that kids can aspire to in order to live heroically themselves. Each book tells the story of an icon in a lively, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers.
Available at penguinrandomhouse.com.
Glimpse Ultra-Orthodox Jewish life in this witty mystery novel as Shimon Lincoln – yeshiva student/detective – and Dafna Lachler – computer expert/fiancée/sleuth – team up once again to use their sechel and Jewish logic to catch the murderer plaguing the Detroit area. With Rabbi Kalmonowitz’s inspired advice they help the FBI and the state police apprehend the culprit responsible for killing a local rabbi.
Soft cover, 471 pages, $14.99 plus shipping. Available on Amazon.
What would motivate a successful corporate lawyer to trade in his comfortable life in America for three weeks every year to volunteer on Israeli military bases? Mark Werner sought a personal way to show support for Israel and found it through Sar-el, an organization that sends volunteers to work on Israeli bases. Werner describes the joys and challenges of volunteering and the camaraderie with Israeli soldiers that is its reward. “Mark Werner is a born storyteller…his book is a continually insightful and compelling tale that will tug at the heart of any committed Jew.” —Rabbi Joseph Telushkin.
When constant change is the norm, there is comfort in looking at connection rather than conflict between religion and modern science. You are invited on a carefully guided journey spanning centuries of theological, philosophical, and scientific thought. Join Bob Goldman as he explores connections between Ancient Hebrews, God, and Einstein’s vision of space-time. With simple accessible language, the author explores insights from Prophets to Spinoza, Dalai Lama to Elie Weisel and crafts a hopeful vision of you and I, humankind, and God as we evolve towards one another.
Paperback, 174 pages Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
Why Jews Do That or 30 Questions Your Rabbi Never Answered is a new playful introduction to Judaism written by Rabbi Avram Mlotek. With cartoon illustrations by Faby Rodriguez and Jenny Young, students of the author from Base Hillel, this book is sure to bring out more questions for the devout follower, casual observer, or someone marrying into the faith. Mlotek co-founded Base Hillel, now operating in nine cities, and works as rabbi for its Manhattan location. He serves as Director of Spiritual Life for the international Base program and Rabbi-in-Residence at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan.
Contact email@example.com for discounted purchasing.
Mrs. Solomon takes her prized rug up to the roof for an airing. When she returns the rug is gone. What follows teaches children how to deal with the moral issue of right and wrong using poetry, humor, lovely illustrations, and an unexpected twist.
Hardcover, $22.95; softcover, $12.95. Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Archway Publishing.
Gourmand World Cookbook Award Winner for Best Historical Recipes in the USA. This cookbook/memoir brings to life the culture of Eastern European Jewry and celebrates the courage and resilience of Holocaust survivors through recipes and stories. More than 150 original family recipes—appetizers to entrees, desserts and wine recommendations— and memories with full-color photographs and techniques updated for today’s cooks. Recipes are enriched by priceless remembrances – sweet, bitter and bittersweet – placing food in the context of the rich Jewish life before the Holocaust. Inspire your family memories and traditions, and bring the mouthwatering food of yesterday to your table today!
Dee-Dee Diamond shares in her unique humorous voice stories of her Brooklyn childhood. She was born and raised in “Old Brooklyn’s Brownsville” of yesteryear. Enjoy a cornucopia of that place with its immigrant, colorful inhabitants of Jews from “The Other Side” and their American kids. Taste, feel her experience of “the stickball streets” of noise and pushcart markets. She has been recorded by The Brooklyn Historical Society.
Available on Amazon.
An in-depth exploration of the flight of young Jewish women from their Orthodox homes during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. “Well-researched and compelling.”—ChaeRan Freeze, Brandeis University.
Available in hardcover and e-book from Princeton University Press.
Wall Street Journal, USA Today Bestseller–An autobiographical debut novel from award-winning political strategist John Shallman. In the midst of running a long-shot political campaign, Democratic consultant John Simon discovers a 100-year-old manuscript written by his grandfather—a brilliant young revolutionary whose exile to Siberia by the last Czar of Russia is just the beginning of an extraordinary tale of survival, romance and revolution.
More information at returnfromsiberia.com.