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Off the Shelf: A biography of the haggadah by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

More Jews observe Passover than any other Jewish holiday, although those celebrations vary greatly – from strictly Orthodox to totally secular. What they all have in common, though, is some variation of the haggadah, which provides a blueprint for what will occur during the evening. Howeve…

Off the Shelf: New York City and cemeteries by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

When historians examine how social systems develop, they sometimes find surprising reasons drive societal change. At least, it may seem that way to readers of “Dust to Dust: A History of Jewish Death and Burial in New York” by Allan Amanik (New York University Press). Amanik, an assistan…

Off the Shelf: Passover picture books and a new children’s haggadah

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Picture books for Passover

Even though I am approaching my Medicare birthday (you should be able to figure out my age from that), I still love reading children’s books, including picture books. It’s always interesting to see the clever ways authors and illustra…

Off the Shelf: Families, Nazis and the aftermath of the Holocaust

Graphic novels are not a new addition to the genre of Holocaust fiction. In fact, comic books in the 1950s-60s were among the first to speak about the Nazi war against the Jews. (For more information, see The Reporter’s review of “We Spoke Out: Comic Books and the Holocaust” at www.the…

Off the Shelf: Another haggadah – this time by Tablet

I have a friend who collects haggadot (the plural of haggadah). She’s always looking for new and interesting ones for her collection. That means finding those with either beautiful illustrations, contemporary readings or new commentary. I don’t think of myself as a collector and have tur…