Celebrating Jewish Literature: Jews, Native Americans and not-so-free land

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

“Every other week, my rabbi and I would meet to read ancient Jewish texts that proscribe how to atone and reconcile after a harm has been committed, even and especially one that a person didn’t cause directly but did benefit from... [we learned] before you can f…

Celebrating Jewish Literature: A Judaism for our time

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

When reviewing books by Orthodox and Conservative rabbis, I frequently comment that, while I may disagree with the author’s theology, his/her practical suggestions have a great deal to offer readers. What a pleasure, then, to feel differently about “Judaism Disr…

Celebrating Jewish Literature: Secrets, race and tragedy

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

“The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store” 

It only took a few pages for me to realize I was in the hands of a master writer. James McBride’s “The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store” (Riverhead Books) is a funny, moving, wise work that will remain with readers lon…

Celebrating Jewish Literature: Out of the closet

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Academic study vs. memoir, objective analysis vs. subjective examination: these describe the difference between two recent works: “Queer Judaism: LGBT Activism and the Remaking of Jewish Orthodoxy in Israel” by Orit Avishai (New York University Press) and “Lat…

Celebrating Jewish Literature: The puzzle of Poland

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

The largest number of Righteous Gentiles (those who risked their lives to save Jews during World War II) listed at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, are Poles with 7,232 known rescuers. Unfortunately, after the war, Polish partisan groups searched …