Hadassah Magazine's Guide to Jewish Literature – May/June 2022
A selection of books to entice any reader. Everything from novels to nonfiction, memoirs to mysteries, cookbooks to kids’ books.
For readers ages 8+ comes an inspiring nonfiction novel-in-verse about Zhanna Arshanskaya, a young Ukrainian Jewish girl using the alias Anna, whose phenomenal piano-playing skills saved her life and the life of her sister Frina during the Holocaust—from award-winning author Susan Hood with Zhanna’s son Greg Dawson.
Available wherever books are sold.
A spellbinding modern folktale in verse about embracing your power, facing your monsters, and loving deeply enough to transcend a century. Mixing European folklore and Jewish history, author R. M. Romero channels the spirit of myth into a brilliantly original young adult novel, inspired by her experiences restoring Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe.
Hardcover, 384 pages. Available on Bookshop.org or wherever books are sold. Published by Peachtree Teen / Peachtree Publishing Company Inc.
This is the story of ordinary people trying to do what’s right in extraordinary times. Three women and their families must navigate the joys and hazards of life amid Arabs, Jews and Britons in pre-Israel Palestine, 1920-1948. “A particularly gifted novelist,” (Midwest Book Review).
The Sun Will Come Out is a funny and heartwarming account of a shy girl’s first summer away from home. When Bea meets a friend named Harry and finds the courage to take part in the camp production of Annie, she learns she really can do anything and that silver linings can be found just about anywhere.
Available from Orca Book Publishers.
In this gorgeously illustrated, deeply moving picture book, a young girl learns about the practice of sitting shiva after her mother dies. Sitting Shiva is a beautiful, heartfelt story about grief and loss, but also about comfort and community. It shows that no matter what religion you practice, we are all more similar than we are different.
Available from Orca Book Publishers.
Inspired by a real-life incident. When a favorite teacher gives an assignment requiring students to pretend they’re Nazis and debate the Final Solution, two brave teens speak up and refuse to participate. The situation explodes, forcing the school and larger community to confront antisemitism and bigotry. What does it take for tolerance, justice, and love to prevail? Find out in this riveting, fast-paced, multi-award-winning novel.
The owner of Soul Mates Unlimited™️, Judith Gottesman, MSW, is a dating coach & Jewish matchmaker. Dating in today’s app-happy, fast-tracked world can be annoying, confusing, & even scary. The Lost Art of Dating: A Dating Coach’s Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Love at Any Age, is both for those overwhelmed by dating & want to take on the challenge with the right tools & techniques, but also experienced daters who want to try a new approach. Rich with tips and tricks, The Lost Art of Dating is the masterful guide to finding a date … and everlasting love.
“This is a beautiful book to be treasured and savored!”-Eitan Fishbane, author of Shadows in Winter. “A quiet masterpiece”-Bernard Avishai, author of The Hebrew Republic. With gentle humor and acerbic irony, David Ehrlich offers us a microcosm of the uniquely colorful and complex city of Jerusalem.
Paperback $22.95. Purchase at press.syr.edu or call 800-848-6224.
“Fast paced with an original, exotic setting, HIP SET is an unstoppable read from first page to last.” Faye Kellerman, best-selling author. A noir thriller set in modern-day Tel Aviv, HIP SET begins with what appears to the police to be a simple murder but swiftly takes our heroes through the hidden lives of Sudanese refugees and the violent underground economy of Russian gangsters, in search of an ancient mystery, lying untouched in the desert for millennia, that has been troubling scholars since it first appeared in the Old Testament itself.
“Compelling…engaging…a moving family saga”—Kirkus Reviews. Until her enchanting French mother died and her famous uncle became her guardian, Paige never knew the pain and passion of the secrets in a hidden diary. She never knew the Holocaust was part of her story. A stunning novel of uncovering your heritage and discovering your destiny.
Spanning six decades, this tense and riveting fact-based Jewish historical novel transports readers from the gates of Buchenwald to the streets of modern-day London, where the son of Ilse Koch, the notorious Bitch of Buchenwald, is planning an anti-government coup. But first, he must secure his sisters’ diaries, which hold the key to Ilse’s legacy: a fortune in looted Nazi gold.
Buy it on Amazon.
A musical story celebrating and honoring the special relationship between grandparents and a grandchild. This new re-designed hardcover edition features fresh lyrics, a toe-tapping memorable melody and colorful illustrations that mirror moments of joy this special bond brings. Use the digital download code printed inside the book to download the song. Reading, listening and singing together, will create memories that will last a lifetime!
Available from www.elaineserling.com. 800-457-2157; $19.95 + $3 shipping.
This vibrantly illustrated hardcover picture book explains the Shavuot holiday. Told through the eyes of an insightful young gir,l it retells the Biblical saga of the Jewish People’s encounter with God at Mt. Sinai; recounts the exciting, scary revelation of the Ten Commandments and the Torah; links together Passover’s story of freedom with Shavuot’s emphasis on acceptance of rules for moral behavior; explains how Shavuot was celebrated in ancient times and today; makes the vivid story of Mount Sinai and Shavuot come alive for a new generation of Jewish children. Includes the actual Hebrew text from Exodus and a glossary.
Available at Amazon, $20.
Learn about the afterlife in three ways: first, what the Hebrew Bible and later Jewish writings have to say about what happens when we die; second, what the traditional beliefs and customs are that recognize God’s “supernatural” power to connect with us in our daily lives; and, third, what experiences some people have had with communication from the deceased through what are called “signs,” and which I refer to as “blessings from God.” Included are 75 personal accounts in which the presence of deceased loved ones is felt and brings joy and comfort to the living.
Commentary’s poetry captures the perspective of Columbus author, educator, and Jewish musician, Barbara Dowell, as she reflects on her life experiences. Her interactions with family, friends, teaching, performing and religious affiliation colored her life. Her third book of poetry relates warm childhood memories, the role fate played in meeting her husband, presenting the funny side of motherhood, sharing stories that are easy to relate to and uplifting to read. While the book speaks about her life experiences, readers will identify and find themselves within the pages of the book.
This complex family tapestry weaves the author’s experience as one of eight children of parents who fled Nazi Germany. Her mother juggled raising her family and her photography profession with her passion as a civil rights activist. To the outside world she was a hero; inside the home a different story unraveled. Claudia’s mother violated her trust and her body, a betrayal of the most profound maternal bond. However, this not a story of revenge or bitterness; rather it is healing, funny, inspirational. Ultimately, it is about the ability to break the cycle of abuse, to thrive and to love.
Life is peaceful for a middle-class Jewish family in Minnesota in the 1970s. Then the young mother suffers a devastating stroke, and nothing is as it was. Her eldest daughter must find a way to grow up as best she can. This memoir tells the story of a family’s struggle through physical and mental illness, loss, and shattered expectations towards endurance and healing.
Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats.
A well-told story of an Italian Sephardic artist and his famous impressionist style of elongated faces. The book is an adventure story of finding a flea market Haggadah, becoming a million-dollar gift.
“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.
Days are bad in the Great Depression of the 1930s. But for little Willie Mittleman and the Mittleman clan in their Bronx, NY neighborhood, life is still good, proving that laughter and love will always be the lifesaving forces to rescue us from adversity and pain. A big-hearted gem. Funny, touching and insightful. For readers of all ages.
Available on Amazon.com.