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Off the Shelf: Jews and Shanghai by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Most Jewish histories focus on Europe, the United States or the Middle East. That’s understandable since the majority of Jews throughout the centuries lived in those areas. While perhaps not as rich in Jewish history, China offers some lesser known, but fascinating, stories about two Jewis…

Off the Shelf: Jewish artwork by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

A great deal has been written about the current flowering of Jewish literature. There has been far less discussion about Jewish art. In “Jewish Identity in American Art: A Golden Age Since the 1970s” (Syracuse University Press), Matthew Baigell notes that this artwork deserves far more a…

Off the Shelf: Children and parents by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Tales of intergenerational conflict fuel novels and memoirs. The majority of these works focus on bad parenting and/or the inability to accept a child’s differences. Both are true of two recent works: Ilana Masad’s novel “All My Mother’s Lovers” (Dutton) and David Adjmi’s memoir …

Off the Shelf: Revisiting World War II and its aftermath

by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

During my years as book reviewer for The Reporter, I’ve read more World War II and Holocaust themed novels than I can count. What amazes me is that there are still so many stories to tell and so many different ways to relate them. Some of the novels in this review…

Off the Shelf: Exploring history through objects by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

History is defined as “the study of past events, particularly in human affairs.” But what parts of history tell us the most about the past? Should its focus be great events – for example, wars and revolutions – and the biographies of those who made them happen? Or should we be studyi…