Hadassah Magazine's Guide to Jewish Literature – September/October 2021
A selection of books to entice any reader. Everything from novels to nonfiction, memoirs to mysteries, cookbooks to kids’ books.
Arianna Brooks delivers with her debut children’s book, My Mushy Matzah Ball. An inclusive celebration of love and traditional Jewish foods for the whole mishpacha!
New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer calls The Sword of David, “A breathtaking thriller that has the best elements of The Da Vinci Code and a modern-day Raiders of the Lost Ark.” This action-packed book follows an ex-Mossad agent’s quest for biblical treasure that could alter the world’s destiny, with a stunning conclusion that offers hope about the future of the Middle East.
Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all other booksellers.
Spanning nearly three decades, Hidden Heroes gives an insider’s view of the modern-day exodus of Soviet Jews from the Soviet Union, a period of Jewish history that has rarely been told and is in danger of being forgotten. This deeply personal narrative explores the grassroots Soviet Jewish emigration movement through the eyes of one of its indefatigable leaders, focusing on the actions of heroic refuseniks in the Soviet Union as well as courageous individuals in the West – described by Natan Sharansky as the “army of students and housewives” who waged the battle to free Soviet Jews.
Written in three acts, this heartwarming and funny memoir from beloved actress Tovah Feldshuh tells the story of a mother and daughter whose narrative reflects 110 years of American cultural changes and the world’s shifting expectations of women.
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.
In this sequel-of-sorts to his bestselling “Miracles We Have Seen,” Dr. Rotbart – physician-scientist, infectious diseases specialist, son of an Auschwitz survivor, and quadruple-bypass heart patient – shares his prescription for healing past regrets, preventing future regrets, and moving forward as individuals and as a society from the COVID-19 pandemic. “Universal truth for people of all faiths and people of no faith,” Rabbi Joshua Hammerman. “Wise, worldly guidance… couldn’t be more timely,” Rabbi Daniel Cohen. “Every personal moment is his gift to us,” Intermountain Jewish News. “Leaves you feeling you have a new friend in the author,” San Diego Jewish World.
Paperback, available at Amazon.com, BN.com, and in fine bookstores everywhere.
The Boy with Four Names is an historical novel of the Holocaust and the Diaspora. You will go beyond the death and tragedy of Anne Frank to read a story of struggle, identity, and triumph in a place where few people know that Jews live: the Andean country of Ecuador. This multi-award-winning author tells a story that both teens and adults will enjoy.
A hilariously sweet story chock-full of Yiddish humor. Gitty and her feathered-friend Kvetch couldn’t be more different: Gitty always sees the bright side of life, while her curmudgeonly friend Kvetch is always kvetching about the trouble they get into. But when Gitty‘s perfect plan goes awry, oy vey, can Kvetch come out of his funk to lift Gitty’s spirits back up?
Visit simonandschuster.com to order your copy.
Discover magical realism in DETOURS, a novel penned by five women writers nicknamed THE INKSLINGERS. They portray six ‘wannabe’ writers traveling to an upstate New York writing conference; instead of fulfilling dreams of authorship, they encounter some twists and turns. Throughout the story, each author develops her imaginary character. Sisterhood nourishes collaboration, testimony to friendship and power of the written word. After seven years of writing, authors transcended painful personal experiences amidst the pandemic. In 2020-21, after participating in nearly 100 virtual meetings, publication was achieved! Plan to chat with us, sipping some razzle, dazzle raspberry tea.
Paperback or e-book available on Amazon.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.
Kings, pirates, conspiracies of wives; scenes of Tiberias, Acco, Malta all woven together when beautiful Tamar of Aleppo and the King of Galilee cross paths. Daher el Omar, 18th century Bedouin king, rebuilds the Galilee and invites Jews to return to the land of their forefathers. Tamar must choose. Will she reciprocate the King’s feelings, or will she flee, to preserve her Jewish identity?
Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Book Depository in paperback and as an e-book.
When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, William Brasse became a political prisoner for refusing to swear allegiance to the Nazis. He was deported to Auschwitz and became prisoner #3444. A trained photographer, he was put to work recording the inner workings of the concentration camp. Between 1940-1945, Brasse took over 50,000 photos of the nightmare around him, before defiantly setting down his camera for good.
A mysterious file and a stranger’s World War II postcard propels a second-generation Holocaust survivor on a haunting journey of betrayal and redemption, giving her the courage to confront her own family’s buried secret. “A captivating story, smartly recounted,” Kirkus Starred Review.
Hunted by the Nazis long after the fall of the Third Reich. In this-stranger-than-fiction true-crime story, Carl Katz contends for survival against relentless enemies. “Meticulously researched and superbly written… an enormously important contribution… [and a] potent antidote to the increasingly prevalent distortion of history…”- World Jewish Congress. In this much anticipated sequel to bestselling, Roses in a Forbidden Garden: A Holocaust Love Story, Never Enough follows the defiant, German-born, Carl Katz. His unwillingness to succumb sparks outrage and vengeance from his would-be executioners. As his perpetrators hunt him, he discovers that old habits certainly die hard in the Fatherland.
“On the day after Yom Kippur, as he did every year, the old Rabbi shaped a Golem from a mound of clay.”
So begins this fable of a Golem who tries to repair the broken world he sees around him. Illustrated with gorgeous sand paintings by the author, this picture book reminds us that every choice we make has immeasurable impact.
Available in hardcover and paperback from Amazon.
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.
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.
This is a story of a woman who, with her husband and baby, made a decision in 1923 to travel from her country, Hungary/Romania. She left her extended family behind to start anew in America. The book is based on authentic research by the author and her team of relatives. Vilma Weisz’s decision was a critical choice in her life and the lives of her future children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren because it was discovered by the author that the Jewish family was sent to Auschwitz by the Nazis and no one from the city of Oradea survived.
Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Xlibris in soft cover, hard cover and e-book format.
In 1785, Thomas Jefferson published his first book, Notes on the State of Virginia. In doing so, Jefferson appeared to have started a trend as more than half of all U.S. presidents have published at least one book. The President’s Pen examines the diverse writings of sixteen Presidents of the United States, providing readers with background stories and anecdotes in an easy-to-understand format.
Dr. Larry S. Milner takes us to the closing period in Abraham’s life after the Akedah, when told by YHWH to prepare to sacrifice Isaac. It was after this event that Abraham, amazingly, lost faith. After the Akedah, when it was not Isaac who died, but Sarah, Abraham did the unexpected; he married a pagan.
Milner presents Abraham’s story in the format of a play, through dialog. Ideal for teachers and group leaders, this story can easily be presented in a live format for all ages.
ISBN 978-1946124-883 ~ 148 pages. Available on Amazon.
Dr. Larry S. Milner analyzes when Moses punished the Israelites with a death penalty, not God-approved, that this prohibited him from entering Israel and how this punishment was consistent with the principles of Divine Justice found in the Torah. Then Milner examines when Moses strikes, rather than speaking to the rock at Meribah, the event thought to be the reason Moses couldn’t enter the Land. He presents the view that this reason was a late addition to the Torah, intended to rehabilitate the reputation of Moses.
ISBN 978-1946124-869 ~ 774 pages. Available at Amazon.
Originally published in 1984 and called “broad in learning and deep in subtle humor” by the New York Times, this delightful and enlightening updated edition of A Jewish Bestiary features new full-color renderings of thirty-five creatures from Hebraic legend and lore. The illustrations are accompanied by entertaining and instructive tales drawn from biblical, Talmudic, Midrashic, and kabbalistic sources.
9780271091730 | 88 pp. | 35 color illus. | cloth: $14.95. For more information and to place an order, please visit https://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-09173-0.html
Sy Gitin’s engaging and entertaining memoir recounts a remarkably lived life. From his childhood in 1940s Buffalo, New York, to a storied career as an archaeologist working and living in Israel, Sy shares his experience about being Jewish in America and Israel from the 1940s through today and provides an eye-opening look at the often-controversial development of biblical archaeology.
9781646021345 | 256 pp. | 46 b&w illus. | cloth: $37.50. For more information and to place an order, please visit https://www.eisenbrauns.org/books/titles/978-1-64602-134-5.html
“The Jewish Brigade covers the group that fought as part of the British Army in World War II. . . . an exciting, moving, and thoughtful historical graphic novel.” —Foreword Reviews.
With over 90 recipes and amazing photography, this new kosher cookbook is a collection of traditional Middle Eastern entree recipes handed down from mother to daughter for generations. Like her first cookbook, Backyard Kitchen: Mediterranean Salads, the genesis for Backyard Kitchen came from Esther Salem, Sarina’s Syrian grandmother, who came to America as an immigrant in 1921, and could not read or write. Esther supported her seven children with a catering business housed in the garage located in her backyard. Also enjoy Sarina’s blogs, the Sarina’s Sephardic Cuisine iPhone app and tips at sarinassephardiccuisine.com.
Available on Amazon.com.
Explore the Global Journey of Sephardic Jews. Branching Out From Sepharad outlines the 1492 Expulsion from Spain, Jews who moved to Syria and later to the Americas. Chapters include Sephardic naming practices, genealogy in the Torah, and a 100-year history of Brooklyn’s Syrian community. Selected dynasties are traced from Spain to the Americas.
420 pages; $36. Available on Amazon.com.