Rabbi Rachel Esserman will discuss three books at the annual Temple Concord Sisterhood book talk on Sunday, January 30, at 11 am, at Temple Concord, 9 Riverside Dr., Binghamton, and on Zoom. The event is open to the public. Those interested in attending are asked to make a reservation, whether coming in person or joining via Zoom, by contacting Phyllis Kellenberger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727-8305 by Wednesday, January 26. There is no charge for the program. The Zoom link is available here, meeting ID 389 722 4889 and passcode 230720; or by phone at 1-646-558-8656, meeting ID 389 722 4889 and passcode 230720. This information will also be e-mailed the week of the program.
During her talk, Esserman will review “The Slaughterman’s Daughter” by Yaniv Iczkovits, “Nirvana is Here” by Aaron Hamburger and “Come and Hear: What I Saw in My Seven-and-a-Half-Year Journey through the Talmud” by Adam Kirsch.
“I am again looking forward to one of my favorite events of the year,” Esserman said. “I’ve made sure to include a nonfiction work this year again by request. Each work is very different and I look forward to reading them. I’ve had ‘The Slaughterman’s Daughter’ on my shelf for most of the year and was debating reading it, but decided I would save it for this review. I was a big fan of Aaron Hamburger’s works and was delighted to learn he finally had a new novel out. As for ‘Come and Hear,’ I thought it sounded like a great way to introduce people to the Talmud.”
“The Slaughterman’s Daughter,” winner of the 2021 Wingate Literary Prize, has been described as “a family drama into far-reaching comedy of errors that will pit the Czar’s army against the Russian secret police and threaten the very foundations of the Russian Empire. It is a rollicking and unforgettable work of fiction.”
“Nirvana is Here” is the winner of a Bronze Medal, Foreword Reviews 2019 Indie Award for Best LGBTQ+ Fiction. The book was called “a wonder of a book” by novelist Lauren Grodstein (“Our Short History”): “As a Jewish Gen-Xer, the novel reminded me exactly of who I once was – and all that I still want to be.... a brilliant accomplishment.”
“Come and Hear: What I Saw in My Seven-and-a-Half-Year Journey Through the Talmud” has been described as “a kind of travel writing – a report on what [the author] saw during his seven-and-a-half-year journey through the Talmud. For readers who want to travel the same path, there is no better guide.”
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. This year, she won four awards for her book reviews: first place and honorable mention in the American Jewish Press Club’s Simon Rockower Awards Book Review category, and first and second place in the Syracuse Press Club’s Critique category. She also serves at 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.
Esserman also is a freelance rabbi who does lifecycle events, hospital visits, chaplaincy; and has been rabbi-on-call when needed by local Reform and Conservative synagogues. Her education includes a B.A. in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania, and rabbinic ordination and an M.A. in Hebrew letters from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Wyncote, PA.