Hadassah Magazine's Guide to Jewish Literature – July/August 2021
A selection of books to entice any reader. Everything from novels to nonfiction, memoirs to mysteries, cookbooks to kids’ books.
Gospel writers had Roman Governor Pilate asking Jewish peasants what he should do with Jesus. Later Gentiles inserted punctuation into punctuation-free Ancient Greek to blame Jewish peasants for Rome’s crucifixion. Original: THEYCRIEDCRUCIFY
HIMPILATESAID… Here’s later Gentile writers’ anti-Semitic spin: “THEY CRIED, ‘CRUCIFY HIM!’ PILATE SAID…” “They” meaning “Jews.” Here’s Truth: “THEY CRIED. ‘CRUCIFY HIM!’ PILATE SAID.” It was Pilate, not weeping Jews, who yelled out “CRUCIFY HIM.” The tragic racial-religious prejudice their switching a ‘comma for a period’ (after “CRIED”) has created, is mind-boggling.
Paperback $15, Kindle $ 4.99. Amazon.com.
From the New York Times Bestselling author of The Paris Architect: The life of Prince Markhov of the Imperial Court of Nicholas and Alexandra is changed when he witnesses the aftermath of the 1903 Easter Sunday pogrom. He is shocked by the brutality the Jews must endure in Russia. Does he stand by or fight injustice?
In bookstores and available as an e-book.
Winner of the 2020 National Jewish Book Award. “You are surely informed about the situation of all Jews in Central Europe… help us to follow our children. It is our last and only hope.” That was the desperate plea of Alfred Berger, mailed in a letter to an American stranger during the Holocaust. Fifty years later, the letter improbably found itself in the hands of journalist Faris Cassell, who wouldn’t rest until she discovered the story’s ending. Cassell’s research uncovered an extraordinary story of heart-wrenching loss and unforgettable love. Was Alfred’s desperate plea answered? Did he—and his family—survive?
Available wherever books are sold.
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
Available in softcover or e-book on Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com or through bookstores.
More about the novel and author at martingolan.com.
“How does the Hebrew Bible fit into the lives of Jewish Women today?” has become a central question to Modern Jewish life. Combining the seemingly antithetical interests of the Biblical text and feminist thinking, well-known, little-known, and the author’s own Midrashic stories about the laws are told to make the Bible relevant to modern readers. Early reviews emphasize this book’s literary content and comprehensiveness.
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
“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.
Paperback 318 pages – $15.99; Kindle – $9.99. To order, go to Amazon.com or visit https://www.marciarudin.com.
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.
Paperback 261 pages – $14.99; Kindle – $8.99. To order, go to Amazon.com or visit www.marciarudin.com.
These trials teach how the Jewish people resolved their controversies while faithfully embracing their moral compass of justice and equality. From Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, we learn about separation of church from state, and how Zionism inspired the creation of the modern State of Israel. The Leo Frank trial encouraged creation of the Anti-Defamation League. Jesus of Nazareth’s trial ignited a new religion.
Available on Amazon.
In 1913, Abraham Rechtman journeyed through the Russian Pale of Settlement on a mission to record its Jewish folk traditions before they disappeared forever. The Lost World of Russia’s Jews is the first English translation of his extraordinary experiences, documenting a culture best known until now through romanticized works like Fiddler on the Roof. Rather than a nostalgic portrait of an imagined shtetl, Rechtman succeeded in producing an intimate account of Jewish life and death. The Lost World of Russia’s Jews powerfully illuminates traditional Jewish life in Eastern Europe on the eve of its transformation and, ultimately, destruction.
Paperback, Hardcover and e-books available from iupress.org.
Anne Frank: Witness to History! is the biography—in graphic novel format—of the courageous girl who hid with her family from Nazi occupants in Amsterdam, living for two years in a secret annex behind a bookcase. Part of the award-winning Show Me History! series, the full-color illustrations and historically accurate text make this graphic novel an educational and inspiring read for children ages 8-12.
Hardcover, 96 pages. To purchase, visit www.showmehistory.com or your favorite bookstore.
In 1941, Sadie Kleinberg’s ten-year-old niece, Rhoda was quarantined in the children’s polio ward at St. Giles Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. Rhoda was immobilized and bedridden. Visiting hours were restricted to two days a week for one hour. Aunt Sadie took it upon herself to be Rhoda’s cheerleader, advisor, comfort giver and entertainer by writing her niece daily letters. Each letter included at least one poem Sadie composed just for Rhoda. These 101 letters, written from November 1941 to March 1942, offer light, love, and coping lessons during a dark and frightening time.
Available in paperback from Amazon.com and other booksellers, Kindle and in all e-book formats.
This book is the story of a Pediatrician who obtained certification as a Mohel by the Jewish Theological Seminary … The book tells the story with the beginnings at the seminary and 25 years of learning from the many families and individuals met during this journey. It gives a fresh perspective on the younger members of the Jewish faith and those seeking to join its peoplehood.
Available on Amazon and from United Synagogue Book Service.
Not the kind of book that should be written by a nice Jewish boy, much less by an Orthodox rabbi! The narrative gives voice to the unpretentious recollections of Abraham M Mann, a rabbi’s son, educated at distinguished institutions, with 25 years of rabbinic service. The Five Books reveals the hills and valleys through which the author journeyed. If you appreciate the details of a well-told story, and the humor that arises to make the difficulties in life surmountable, this book is for you.
Philistine fighter Lukio has buried painful memories of betrayal from the Levite family that guards the Ark of the Covenant, who once adopted him. But just as he is set to achieve all he has worked so hard to obtain, his past collides with his present. After a heartbreaking end to her friendship with Lukio, Shoshana thought she’d never see him again. But when she is captured and enslaved in Ashdod, she is surprised to recognize the brutal fighter. When their reunion threatens to expose Shoshana’s secrets, Lukio must decide how far he’ll go to keep her protected.
Trade Paper, 368 pages, $15.99. Available at bethanyhouse.com, your local bookstore, or by calling 1-866-241-6733.
1950s, coming-of-age story relevant to today’s social issues. “Racism against Black citizens, Native Americans, the fear of Communism at the height of the Cold War, Nazism, anti-Semitism, religious hypocrisy, and finally the building of a pipeline through Native American land. This eclectic tale delivers an intriguing outsider…a captivating protagonist grappling with her identity. —Kirkus. “… outstanding interplay of emotions, history, and social inspection”—Midwest Book Review. “If more books were written like this, with such incredible heart, the negative values and beliefs of others could be erased for good.”— Reader Views.
Order signed, pre-release copy $11.95. (Release price, $18.95) email@example.com
Inspired by the real-life heroine who saved thousands of Jewish children during WWII. In the spring of 1942, Elzbieta Rabinek is aware of the swiftly growing discord just beyond her Warsaw home. In befriending Sara, a nurse who shares her apartment floor, Elzbieta makes a discovery that propels her into a dangerous world of deception and heroism. Using Sara’s credentials to smuggle children out of the ghetto brings Elzbieta face-to-face with the reality of the war, and to the plight of the Gorka family, who must make the impossible decision to give up their newborn daughter or watch her starve.
Trade paperback, $17.99. Available wherever books are sold or at harpercollins.com.
A coming of age novel for adults and young adults about music, love, friendship, community, and religion. The novel tells the story of Mira Adler and her journey from innocence to experience. The heart of her journey is her friendship with her Yiddish and violin teacher, Chaver B, a recent immigrant from Prague who is intriguing and paradoxical, and who Mira believes harbors a painful secret. Prairie Sonata received a STARRED Kirkus Review that described it as “compelling…poignant and eloquent.”
You can read more about the novel and where to purchase it at www.PrairieSonata.com.
Simon Wiesenthal was a Jewish Holocaust Survivor who became internationally famous for relentlessly pursuing and bringing to justice nearly 1,100 Nazi war criminals, including a significant role in capturing Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the “Final Solution.” On the day of his retirement, Wiesenthal invites one last group of students into his office. With warmth and wit, he recounts how he tracked down history’s most notorious killers. He warns his young friends that although progress has been made, the human savage still lurks just below this wafer-thin veil of civilization. The book Includes the playscript, book club questions, and a student study guide.
Paperback, $17.95. Available at all booksellers. Bulk sales available. Published by Bashert Books Press, www.bashertbookspress.com.
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