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Off the Shelf: Views of the past by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

One reason to read historical novels is to gain insight into our ancestors’ lives. Of course, it’s impossible for authors to completely rid themselves of contemporary notions and totally understand the sensibilities of those who lived centuries ago. However, written works from those time…

Bess Greenberg's driving force: rhythm by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

On her website, www.KidBess.com, Bess Greenberg describes herself as a “professional basketball player turned documentary photographer, turned curator, turned visual artist, turned musician.” What do all these different activities have in common? During an e-mai…

Off the Shelf: History through letters by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

With the advent of the Internet, many people now stay in contact with family and friends through electronic means. Some discourage printing the letters and/or documents due to ecological concerns. Yet, it is physical documents that can help historians uncover what occurred in past decades an…

Off the Shelf: Life in the Catskills by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Jewish life in the Catskill Mountains during the 20th century took a variety of forms. Some people lived in the villages all year-round, while others came only for the summer. Some visitors spent their vacations in fancy hotels that catered to their every whim, while others owned small vacat…

Off the Shelf: Exploring the Torah with Mussar principles

There are many lenses through which to view the Torah. Over the years, a variety of commentaries have appeared focusing on specific viewpoints – from feminist to LGBTQ to men’s issues – in order to challenge our ideas about the biblical text. One recent work offers a different approach…