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Off the Shelf: Teen queer romances

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

How the world has changed: I can’t imagine either “Margo Zimmerman Gets the Girl” by Brianna R. Shrum and Sara Waxelman (Inkyard Press) or “Going Bicoastal” by Dahlia Adler (Wednesday Books) appearing on library bookshelves when I was in high school. In f…

Off the Shelf: Psalms and Jewish life in antiquity

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

What role have the psalms played in Jewish life? The answer to that question depends on the time period under discussion. In “A Life of Psalms in Jewish Late Antiquity” (University of Pennsylvania Press), A. J. Berkovitz, assistant professor of ancient Judaism …

Off the Shelf: Fantasy for different ages

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

For adults

Some fantasy novels create a place and mood, one that can feel similar to our world, but which contains a magical, fantasy aspect. That’s the case with “The First Bright Thing” by J. R. Dawson (Tor Publishing Group). On the one hand, there are sim…

Off the Shelf: Exploring the stories of biblical women

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

There has been an explosion of midrash – stories that explain or amplify the tales found in the Bible – particularly ones that focus on the voices of biblical women. As Rabbi Marla J. Feldman notes in “Biblical Women Speak: Hearing Their Voices Through New an…

Off the Shelf: Jewish summer camps

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

A major worry of the post-World War II Jewish community was whether affluence would dilute people’s Jewish observance. After all, Jews were moving to suburbs, rather than living in close quarters in Jewish sections of large cities, and finding more acceptance in …