Guide to Jewish Literature - September/October 2023
A selection of books to entice any reader. Everything from novels to nonfiction, memoirs to mysteries, cookbooks to kids’ books.
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 and Bookshop.org.
Rabbi Tuffs reveals his unconventional route to the rabbinate, heart-warming moments with congregants, his many social action projects, and the complicated realm of “shul politics,” during his forty-year career. Beautifully and concisely written, informative, often humorous, and thoroughly inspiring, a must read for anyone considering a career as a rabbi, temple board members, and those interested in a behind the scenes account of synagogue life.
180 pages, Palmetto Publishing, paperback ($15.95), e-book ($7.95). Available online at Bookshop.org, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Estrella Schmitt believed she had the perfect life. She married the man of her dreams, had the ideal job and a loving family. Her world turned upside down when she went home to Pueblo, New Mexico, to say goodbye to her dying abuelita (grandmother) whose last words to her favorite grandchild were Somos Judios, we are Jews. Read the incredible journey Estrella takes to find out what happens.
Available at Iuniverse.com, Amazon and Bookshop.org.
Drawing on biographical and historical sources, BESSIE reimagines the early life of Bess Myerson—the musically talented daughter of poor Russian immigrants from the Bronx—who, in the bigoted milieu of 1945, remarkably rises to become Miss America, the first—and to date only—Jewish woman to do so.
Published by AuthorHouse, Shtetl Tales is a collection of stories which take place in the fictional shtetl of Patchentuch, located somewhere in Eastern Poland. The stories tell of the lighthearted adventures and misadventures of town residents such as Schlamazel Lifshutz, and they transcend the grim reality of shtetl life to a more lighthearted place.
All eight volumes appear on Amazon and Bookshop.org.
Kill Brothers is a pulse-pounding, cold case thriller that delivers page-turning twists and turns, weaving together historical fiction (World War II) and modern-day DNA analysis. Will NYPD’s Detective Mills murder investigation link him back to Greta Weber’s shocking secret of nearly a century before? From the 1920s Germany to 2018 in Brooklyn, Kill Brothers will keep readers racing through the pages until its mind-bending conclusion.
My Tel Aviv Table is a collection of healthy homestyle recipes packed with the flavors and stories of Tel Aviv. In her debut cookbook, Limor shares her wholesome cooking style, one that centers on health and freshness, ensuring that each recipe is packed with flavor and fragrance while remaining light and nourishing. “Limor Chen’s beautiful book bursts with exciting combinations and enticing flavors,” Claudia Roden.
Told in a positive, no-nonsense tone, this is the ultimate tour of philosophers, artists and academics throughout the ages by philosopher Haim Shapira. Notes on the Art of Life is a discursive and intensely personal collection of thoughts on life; a tribute to the importance of the here and now; the value of the moment and of paying attention to it.
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.
Before WWII, Benjamin Weiss grows up in a Hungarian town called Beregszász..Shortly after becoming a young man, the German and Hungarian military start their deportation process. When three high-ranking Nazi officers visit the camp Ben is in (Mauthausen), his fate is thrown into question. The story portrays life in Europe before and throughout the Holocaust, from a most intimate and transcendental perspective.
Available on Bookshop.org, B&N and Amazon.
Compelling historical fiction. In WWII, The Breakers Hotel became an army hospital where over a dozen babies were born. Passions and fires will forever change the lives of three women, whose heartrending journeys weave through the timeline of the resort, including Rebecca, an alluring Russian Jewish immigrant in the 1920s, whose fiancé disappears when she follows him to America.
Paperback available on Bookshop.org; all formats, including eBook, on Amazon.
When her enchanting French mother died and her famous uncle became her guardian, Paige discovered the pain and passion in a hidden diary. She learned the Holocaust was part of her story. A captivating saga of a girl’s coming-of-age and a man’s quest for a lost love. A rich tapestry, spanning three generations.
Paperback available on Bookshop.org; all formats, including eBook, Audible on Amazon.
The award-winning author of Rashi’s Daughters takes characters inspired by Chaim Potok and ages them into young adults in Brooklyn in the mid-1950s. When journalist Hannah Eisin interviews Rabbi Nathan Mandel, a controversial Talmud professor, she persuades him to teach her the mysteries of the text forbidden to women, though it might cost him his job if discovered. Secret meetings and lively discussions bring the two to the edge of a line neither dares to cross, testing their relationships with Judaism and each other.
Maggie is happy to meet with groups or book clubs; contact info on www.TheChoiceNovel.com.
Follow two generations of a Jewish family from the Frankfurt shtetl as they are swept up in the cataclysmic changes brought on by the 18th-century Haskala that shook the rabbinical establishment to its core and challenged the very idea of what it means to be a Jew.
Available on Amazon.
Jewish fathers have long recorded their wisdom for their heirs in what is called an ethical will. This book is the ethical will of a father who has spent a lifetime studying Jewish tradition. It is organized around eighteen words that form the foundations of human life, taken from the Hebrew word for “life,” chai, which is eighteen. Among these words are goodness, gratitude, prayer, love, and others. David Patterson is a winner of the National Jewish Book Award and the Hadassah Myrtle Wreath Award.
Available from Wipf and Stock Publishers and Bookshop.org.
While the Nazis round up Polish Jews and herd them to concentration camps, four separate young Jews find ways to escape, adjust, and fight back. The force that drives them is an iron will to survive—against overwhelming odds—to find lost family, refuse to bow to antisemitic force, and to retaliate. Four survivors tell their stories of incredible success in a time rich with failure. Their experiences lead to a new mindset: a breed of Jews who will eventually create a Jewish state dedicated to never letting another Holocaust stain history. These precious few greatly changed Jewish life.
The book may be purchased on Amazon and Bookshop.org.
From the trauma of 9/11 to the many challenges of Covid, Portrait of an American Rabbi: In His Own Words presents a sweeping account of American Jewish life in the first two decades of the 21st century. Written by a renowned rabbi and historian, this volume skillfully weaves together the headlines of our times, their intensely personal impact on himself, his congregation and the broader Jewish community. A unique blend of genres, Portrait is a rabbinic tour-de-force and scholarly exploration of our times.
Available on Bookshop.org and Amazon.
A delicious exploration of the Jewish holidays, with illuminating conversations and meals shared by friends: a rabbi and a cook. James Beard Award–winning author Susan Simon and Rabbi Zoe Zak explore each of the 14 holidays in the Jewish calendar through their history, interpretations, and reimagined traditional recipes. This book is a testament to the resilient versatility of the Jewish people and their traditions. Chag Sameach!