Book Reviews

Off the Shelf: Women’s roles and history by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Ever wonder what would happen if characters from different novels were to meet? In the case of those featured in this review, there would be arguments about the role women should play in public and private life. However, that is not their only purpose: the authors also portray Jewish life in…

Off the Shelf: Family, friends and love by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Sometimes the way you feel about a book depends not only on your mood, but what else you’ve read recently. Before reading the novels in this review, I’d been actively engaged in two different, very exciting fantasy series. The second in one series ended with a cliff hanger and I so wante…

Off the Shelf: Morality versus Divine command by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

“Thou shalt not murder” is one of the Ten Commandments. Yet, twice a year – during Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat Vayera – Jews read the Akedah, the binding of Isaac, which could also be called “the attempted murder of Isaac.” God tests Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his son. …

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…