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Off the Shelf: A taboo like no other by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

In rabbinical school, my research papers focused on different aspects of Jewish dietary laws. One year, I explored the biblical commandments concerning forbidden animals. There were many theories about why Judaism forbids the consumption of animals who do not have cloven hooves and chew thei…

Off the Shelf: Connections and relationships by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Our actions can be easily influenced by family and friends. Sometimes we resist their attempts to change/sway us, while other times it’s easier to follow their lead, even if we aren’t thrilled with the course our life is taking. Two recent works of short stories – “The Man Who Loved …

Off the Shelf: Tracing his grandparents’ life journey

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

“Nuestra América: My Family in the Vertigo of Translation” by Claudio Lomnitz (Other Press) could be called a memoir about his maternal grandparents’ various emigrations: he writes about how they moved from Eastern Europe to Peru, then Colombia and then Paris…

Off the Shelf: Troubled times and troubled children

 by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Parents and children: that can be a volatile mix, whether it’s due to differing politics or different views on the correct way to live. For example, in David Laskin’s “What Sammy Knew” (Penguin Books), the political clash between Sam Stein and his father c…

Being a Jewish teenager by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

For some teenagers, being Jewish plays a major role in their lives. For others, it’s a minor part of their identity, at least until they come face-to-face with antisemitism. Seeing their lives reflected in the novels they read, however, is something both they and …