TC Sisterhood to offer Esserman’s annual book review on Jan. 24

Rabbi Rachel Esserman will discuss three books at the annual Temple Concord Sisterhood book talk on Sunday, January 24, at 11 am, on Zoom. The event is open to the public. Options to join the Zoom meeting include contacting Lani Dunthorn for the link at, or joining the meeting at, meeting ID 878 2648 3246 and passcode 137825, or by phone at 646-558-8656, meeting ID 878 2648 3246 and passcode 137825.

Esserman will review two novels – “Evening” by Nessa Rapoport and “The Lost Shtetl” by Max Gross – and one work of nonfiction, “Find My Father: His Century-Long Journey From World War I Warsaw and My Quest to Follow” by Deborah Tannen.

“In August, I checked with the planning committee of Temple Concord Sisterhood about whether they thought we would still do my review even if we had to do it virtually,” Esserman said. “I was thrilled when they said ‘yes’ because this is one of my favorite things of the year. I start looking for potential books during the summer and like to find ones on different topics because that makes it more fun. I like to read the books closer to the review and am looking forward to what sounds like some fascinating reading.

“For the first time, I’m reviewing a non-fiction work,” she added. “I’ve been a big fan of Deborah Tannen’s writing, and have read all her popular non-fiction books and some of her scholarly ones. I’m looking forward to seeing how she turns her sociological and linguistic eye to her father’s life. I’ve read Nessa Papoport’s work – fiction and nonfiction – for years and so was glad to see that she had a new book out. ‘The Lost Shtetl’ is a debut novel, but the subject matter was one I could not resist. Judaism with a touch of fantasy? That always engages my interest.” 

“Evening” by Rapoport is about two sisters, lost youth and youthful obsessions; organized by day as the family sits shiva. According to critics, the novel “unfolds the paradoxes of love, ambition, siblings and the way the past continues to inflect the present, sometimes against our will.”

“The Lost Shtetl” by Gross is a debut novel about a small Jewish village in the Polish forest that is so secluded no one knows it exists… until now. 

“Find My Father: His Century-Long Journey From World War I Warsaw and My Quest to Follow” by  #1 New York Times bestselling author Tannen traces her father’s life from turn-of-the-century Warsaw to New York City and has been called “ an intimate memoir about family, memory and the stories we tell.”

Esserman is the executive editor and book reviewer for The Reporter Group. Her editorials and reviews have won awards from the American Jewish Press Association and the Syracuse Press Club. She won a Syracuse Press Club Award 2019: Third Place Print Editorial for “Broken promises and lost lives.” She also won the 2019 American Jewish Press Simon Rockower Award: First Place Award for Excellence in Arts and Criticism News and Features-Critical Analysis/Review (newspapers 14,999 circulation and under) for “Turning Jews Into Americans.”

She serves as the Jewish chaplain for Broome Developmental Disabilities Service Office. Her work has been published in “The Women’s Torah Commentary” and “The Women’s Haftarah Commentary” (both by Jewish Lights Publishing). She also has had a book of poetry, “I Stand By The River,” published by Keshet Press of Temple Concord. A Reconstructionist rabbi who says her first love is teaching, she sees her position at The Reporter as an opportunity to educate the public about Judaism.

She is a freelance rabbi who deals with lifecycle events, hospital visits, chaplaincy and is rabbi-on-call when needed by local Reform and Conservative synagogues. Her education includes a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania, and rabbinic ordination and a master of arts in Hebrew letters from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Wyncote, PA.