Guide to Jewish Literature November/December 2022
A selection of books to entice any reader. Everything from novels to nonfiction, memoirs to mysteries, cookbooks to kids’ books.
For more than thirty years, this clever story of a folk hero outwitting dreadful goblins has been a staple of family Hanukkah celebrations. Adapted from a Ukrainian folktale, with an imaginative twist from master storyteller Eric Kimmel and featuring the timeless illustrations of Caldecott Medalist Trina Schart Hyman, Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins is a true classic of children’s literature. This elegant gift edition includes beautiful foil detailing, slipcase, poster with the evocative artwork and special afterword.
Published by Holiday House Books. Available on Bookshop.org and wherever books are sold.
Germany has just invaded Poland; 14-year-old Hana Ziegler, the product of an illicit affair, is being driven by her grandfather and her psychiatrist to a euthanasia center; 16-year-old Silke Hartenstein graces the covers of Nazi propaganda magazines; Avi Kreisler is a Munich police detective rounded up for Dachau; David McAuliffe’s patrician father wants his eldest son elected first Catholic president of the United States. In the aftermath of war, revenge brings these four people together in ways unimaginable.
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Welcome to Otisville Prison in upstate NY– the only Jewish prison in the federal system – where a talkative crew of white-collar criminals, led by a rabbi and fellow convict, hold daily services, debate Talmud and ethics…until a celebrity inmate’s arrival upends everything. “A puckish Philip-Rothesque satire” – Publishers Weekly. “Delectable . . . glorious . . . you want immediately to read it all over again . . . this most cherishably Jewish of books.” – Jewish Chronicle.
Available in paperback and e-book from Amazon and all online bookstores.
This New York Times bestseller is a gripping tale of a savvy, young journalist who gets embroiled in a major international art scandal centered around a Nazi-looted masterpiece, forcing a showdown between passion and possession, lovers and liars, history and truth. Is finding the painting and exposing its dark history worth the young reporter’s life? This propulsive thriller forces readers to question where the line should be drawn between the pursuit of justice and the hunt for revenge. Actress Sharon Stone is set to produce and star in the film adaptation of the novel.
Available wherever books are sold.
If you love the Catskills, this is the book for you. When an ultrafashionable modern-day woman renovates a boutique on Madison Avenue, she finds a skeleton. To learn who it is, she must explore the lives of a Jewish immigrant family who lived above the store in the 1950s.
This stand-alone sequel to Dance Me Younger, by Marilyn Gottlieb, is available on Amazon.com.
Behind her camera, photographer Orah Buck absorbed what she saw in Eastern Europe. Within the context of her love of Judaism, the Jewish people and the Hebrew language, she created an extensive collection of photographs. From Holocaust-abandoned shuls to rebuilt synagogues, old-world shtetl farm communities to modern apartment blocks, she captured this spirit with love and awe. The collection shows a historic footprint of Judaism as well as passages of Jewish heritage, emotion, and devotion. Throughout it all is the stark reality of the Holocaust, which must never be forgotten or diminished.
Accused of betraying France in 1895, Captain Alfred Dreyfus is exiled to a prison on Devil’s Island, far from his wife and children. But what if he’s innocent, the famous writer Emile Zola wonders? Is Alfred a traitor to France…or a victim of anti-Semitism? Emile knows that it is his DUTY to help. He pens the famous letter “J’Accuse …!” explaining that Alfred was blamed, then convicted … only because he was Jewish. A powerful middle-grade story told from the perspectives of two men whose courage changed the world.
At all bookstores.
A story about family, resilience, strength, determination, religion, culture, and history…but mostly of hope – Ha’Tikvah – in survival, in culture, in literature, in a language once left for dead. Orah Buck’s father, Dr. Abraham Wigser, began life as an orphan in Jerusalem. He became an important activist for Jewish culture, determined that the Jewish story and language must never be neglected in the perilous times leading up to and during WWII. The great gift of his words, illuminated in his many letters, is an integral part of history. His legacy echoes through the generations.
“In the spirit of Sholem Aleichem… identical twins, confused from birth” –AudioFile.
The Village life is rarely uneventful, but with Abraham and Adam Schlemiel, everything gets crazier. A delicious page-turning epic comic novel you won’t want to end.
Jewish Book World: “The mix-ups are many and the potential for laughter abundant.”
Photographer Orah Buck chronicled the life and experiences of immigrants of all ages arriving at Bat Yam, Israel, from Russia, in the second half of the 20th
Available on Amazon.
century. In this story in photographs, she captured moments and activities in daily life as the Russians retained their culture while they went about their new lives.
Delightful Chanukah tales your family will enjoy again and again. Lethal latkes, frozen flames, muddled challah, and a heartwarming community. Funny, silly, heartwarming, and tasty! National Jewish Book Award for Family Literature Finalist by an Audie Award nominated author and professional storyteller. The Times of Israel: “…utterly charming… so right and so touching.”
Amazon and Audible. Signed copies at izzyabe.com.
Teens will enjoy reading a child’s viewpoint of moving from Berlin to the British Mandate of Palestine before it became Israel, then starting over again in America. Three countries, three languages, in a life affected by political happenings. The journey continues
into adulthood with historical tidbits and emotional insights that will inspire courage.
Available on amazon.com.
“An engaging light-hearted read that offers a profoundly powerful message about the environment” –Kirkus Review. This YA contemporary fantasy follows four teenagers’ mission and Grandpa’s hopes to save their community from ecological collapse. Silver Nautilus Award winner and iUniverse Rising Star book.
Available online at Amazon.com and B&N.com.
“A powerful story, powerfully told.”–Michael Berenbaum, Sigi Ziering Holocaust Institute, American Jewish University. This historical fiction is enlightening and accessible, especially for young readers. Inspired by the true story of Salomon Kool, a teenager who survived the German occupation of the Netherlands. Barely 13 years old when the Nazis invaded Amsterdam, Sal “celebrated” his Bar Mitzvah before being forced to survive through a combination of wit, guts, luck, and the help of several courageous Dutch Christians.
Following diamonds from African mines to the necklines of high society women, this multi-faceted history shows why Jews were central to the transatlantic gem trade. This dazzling new book focuses on Jews in the international diamond trade, drawing on original archival material from South Africa, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. Covering the entire commodity chain from mining, processing, cutting, polishing, appraising, and selling, unearthing how Jewish populations became the central architects of a new, global exchange of diamonds.
Available from Oxford University Press (www.global.oup.com).
A satisfying collection of Jewish comfort food from across the Jewish global Diaspora. In her second cookbook, The Nosher editor Shannon Sarna shares many traditional homestyle dishes plus exciting variations for the modern American dinner table. Her Basic Tomato & Pepper Shakshuka is cleverly interpreted into a deep-dish pizza; Classic Potato Latkes invite vegetable-focused variations such as Beet & Carrot and Summer Corn Zucchini; and a multitude of dumplings reflect the range of the Jewish diaspora. Sweets include two kinds of Israeli-Style Yeasted Rugelach, Funfetti Macaroons, and more.
Bookshop.org and wherever books are sold.
A National Jewish Book Award Finalist for Debut Fiction and Book Club; called “exquisite and heartrending…an absolutely beautiful and necessary novel” by The New York Times Book Review; Jennifer Rosner’s breathtaking novel, THE YELLOW BIRD SINGS, is about the unbreakable bond between a mother and a daughter, and the essential role of creativity in human survival. A testament to the triumph of hope – a whispered story, a bird’s song – in even the darkest of times.
Available at Bookshop.org, Amazon.com, and wherever books are sold.
A woman breaks with Jewish tradition to honor her late father in this moving memoir. Birnbach commits to reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish twice a day in synagogue for eleven months, a Jewish mourning ritual historically reserved for sons. A novice worshipper and single working mother, she encounters many obstacles—including gender-based objections to her prayer practice—but perseveres on a tumultuous path to true healing.
Available at Amazon.com.
“A masterpiece of love and survival” – James Carroll (Constantine’s Sword). “A gripping page-turner… as dramatic and powerful an account of the Holocaust era as a reader is likely to find.” Chris Leppek – Intermountain Jewish News. The Štaub family; Irene, Frici, and young son Oskar, citizens of Prešov, Slovakia, flee into the forbidding Tatra mountains in the winter of 1944. Young Osi finds the courage and resiliency to cope with physical and emotional challenges far beyond his years.
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.
Available in hardcover, e-book, paperback, and audio wherever books are sold. Free curriculum guide through Penguin Random House. Liza will speak to Hadassah chapters, synagogues, schools, and other groups. Visit lizawiemer.com for more information.
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.
A powerful autobiographical account of the loss of the author’s husband at an early age and how she managed to move forward through her grief. Then when a second chance at romance appears, Goldblum must maneuver blending two families together.
Readers who wish to experience this potent work can purchase “A Young Widow’s Twenty-Year Journey: Navigating the New Normal” at bookstores everywhere, or online at the Apple iBooks Store, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.
“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.
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.
Named one of the Best Books of 2021 by Kirkus Reviews. “A compelling work…poignant and eloquent.” (Starred Review). Mira Adler, growing up in a town on the post-WWII Canadian prairies, learns about life and love from her Yiddish and violin teacher, Chaver B, a recent immigrant from Prague. Perfect for Purim, the holiday plays an important role in Mira’s growing consciousness in this coming-of-age novel about music, love, friendship, community, and religion. Winner of the Independent Press Award and a New York City Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite. Ideal for book clubs, Bat/Bar-Mitzvah gifts, adults/young adults.
See www.PrairieSonata.com for more reviews and details on purchasing. Available in hardcover, softcover, and ebook.
An award-winning and riveting historical novel of four generations of an immigrant family. When matriarch Ida escapes a pogrom in Ukraine determined to save her family, she cannot foresee the struggles of her descendants. Through war, mental illness, secrets and betrayal, each generation’s actions impact the lives of the next, as love and loyalty is tested by secrets and betrayal. You will recognize these family members and grieve and rejoice with them. Readers cannot put the book down. Gift it for the holidays. Pick it for your book club and author will Zoom with you for a lively conversation.
Available in paperback and e-book on Amazon.com, or wherever you buy books on author website www.florencereisskraut.com
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.
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. Now available in Spanish, as Judaismo y Cristianismo: Un Contraste.
Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble in hardcover, paperback and in all e-book formats.
Wendy Rubin says
What wonderful reading opportunities for all ages!
These fulfill my eclectic tastes in fiction, biographies /memoirs, and history, so I’m eager to read many on the list. Thank you for posting!
ps Jewish Comfort Food is tantalizing and will make a perfect Hanukkah gift for someone dear to me.
Dina Osullivan says
I want everyone of those books but I have to settle on just a few.Hope they are available at Barnes.I don’t use Amazon Dina Osullivan