Book Reviews

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 …

Off the Shelf: Finding freedom

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

“For her, freedom is being able to live and work in peace.” – Narrator speaking about Pearl Kahn in “Hotel Cuba”

Safety, enough food to eat and a decent place to live: that was the dream of many Jewish immigrants in the 1920s. These basic fundamentals of…

Off the Shelf: Second chance for fame and love

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

A second chance for fame and love: that is the main premise for two recent novels: “This Bird Has Flown” by Susanna Hoffs (Little, Brown and Company) and “Once More With Feeling” by Elissa Sussman (Dell). Yet, that doesn’t adequately describe my reaction …

Off the Shelf: Finding meaning while wandering

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Essays that combine the personal with the political: that would be a good description of S. L. Wisenberg’s “The Wandering Womb: Essays in Search of Home” (University of Massachusetts Press). Her essays serve as an exploration of her identity as a Jew, woman a…

Off the Shelf: Family sagas

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Family sagas have been called “kitchen sink” novels with the term used in a pejorative way, suggesting that family life is only of interest to women. But women’s lives are as greatly influenced by world events as men’s, something shown in two recent novels:…