CJL: Dark and funny Jewish humor

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman 

Confession: I’d never heard of actor/comedian Brett Gelman before learning about his book “The Terrifying Realm of the Possible: Nearly True Stories” (Dey Street Books). I also didn’t remember seeing its title on any list of upcoming books with Jewish them…

CJL: Exploring Leviticus

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Commentaries on the Bible are rarely page turners. Even the most interesting are more likely to make people nod their head in agreement than encourage them to eagerly continue reading. This is especially true for works on the biblical book of Leviticus, which, with …

CJL: A feminist classic republished

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

During the past few decades, scholars and feminists has been recovering work written by Jewish women during the first half of the 20th century. The majority of these books are from the Ashkenazic world, which makes the new edition of the novel “Mazaltob” by Blan…

CJL: Living with, and talking about, the dead

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

A funeral is one of the most difficult tasks a rabbi performs. It can also be one of the most meaningful, whether from learning unexpected details of a person’s life or bringing comfort to their loved ones. Note, not closure, but comfort, because there is no closu…

CJL: A romance, a marriage saga and detective stories

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

“The Phoenix Bride”

An impossible romance between a Jew and a Christian in England in 1665: that’s one of the many interesting plot elements offered in the very moving “The Phoenix Bride” by Natasha Siegel (Dell). It’s only been 10 years since the once …