Book Reviews

Off the Shelf: Imagining and re-imagining biblical characters

by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

One answer to the question of why there are so many different interpretations of the biblical text is that people are intrigued by the gaps in the stories – the parts that are either not clear or left out. Everyone from the ancient rabbis to contemporary novelists…

Off the Shelf: A biography, a memoir and a history by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Courage and determination: that’s what ties the stories found in the three non-fiction works in this review. Whether it’s fighting for the right of workers to unionize, helping the French resistance, or using a road race to symbolically represent a defeat of fascism, each character or na…

Off the Shelf: Using Jewish ideas to parent by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

There are numerous books on how to raise children, including several with Jewish themes. For Rabbi Amy Grossblatt Pessah, the seder (Jewish prayer book) gave her the tools she needed to become a better parent. In “Parenting on a Prayer: Ancient Secrets for Raising Modern Children” (Ben Y…

Off the Shelf: Different styles of love by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Sometimes when looking at a book featuring a love story, I end up debating to which genre it belongs. Would it be placed on the romance shelves of a bookstore or with works of literary fiction? The reason for my debate is that I like to judge a work by what the author is attempting to accomp…

Off the Shelf: Family and finding a home by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

How do people determine what city or country feels like home? This question was raised by two recent memoirs: “I Want You to Know We’re Still Here: A Post-Holocaust Memoir” by Esther Safran Foer (Tim Duggan Books) and “I Belong to Vienna: A Jewish Family’s Story of Exile and Return…