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Book Review Stream

This stream is dedicated to articles about book reviews.

Book Review: Good and Evil

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Spoiler alert: Rabbi Wayne Allen’s “Thinking about Good and Evil: Jewish Views from Antiquity to Modernity” (The Jewish Publication Society) does not solve the theological problem of good and evil. In fact, Allen notes that’s not even the purpose of his book…

Book Review: Reality Meets Absurdity

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Two novels written almost 80 years apart. Two authors describing a reality that borders on absurdity. Two characters whose flight from the Nazis mixes humor and horror. These statements only partly describe “The Passenger” by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz (Metropol…

Off the Shelf: Jacob’s sons and the 12 tribes of Israel

by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

There are numerous ways to study the biblical text. Some commentaries focus on the portion of each week. Others look to find meaning in the text as a whole. Nechama Price offers a slightly different way of organizing the material. In her “Tribal Blueprints: Twelve…

Off the Shelf: Four genres of novels by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

“People who purchased this book have also purchased...” Most bookstore websites offer lists of books similar to the book you just looked at or bought. Those suggestions usually don’t work for me. I prefer to rotate genres. For example, if I’ve just read a serious literary novel, the …

Off the Shelf: A taboo like no other by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

In rabbinical school, my research papers focused on different aspects of Jewish dietary laws. One year, I explored the biblical commandments concerning forbidden animals. There were many theories about why Judaism forbids the consumption of animals who do not have cloven hooves and chew thei…