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Book Review Stream

This stream is dedicated to articles about book reviews.

Off the Shelf: Hollywood and Jewish refugees

by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Before I read the press release for “The Sun and Her Stars: Salka Viertel and Hitler’s Exiles in the Golden Age of Hollywood” by Donna Rifkind (Other Press), I’d never heard of Salka Viertel. While I knew that many Jewish and non-Jewish refugees who were act…

Off the Shelf: Novels that take place in Israel-part 1

Novels that take place in Israel tend to fall into two categories: those that talk about domestic life and those that focus on hamatzav (literally “the situation,” referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). However, it’s difficult to draw lines between domestic and political arena…

Off the Shelf: Yiddish in America by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

I never learned to speak Yiddish, except for a few words almost everyone knows, for a reason that will resonate with many people. Yiddish was the language that my grandparents spoke when they didn’t want my mother to understand what they were saying. My mother only knew a smattering of the…

Off the Shelf: Novels about the Orthodox world by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

When I looked at the novels and books of short stories on my to-read pile, I was surprised to see three works written by Orthodox women. Each author successfully portrays the beauty of their community, even as they acknowledge its flaws. What’s interesting is that, although the books have …

Off the Shelf: A biography of the haggadah by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

More Jews observe Passover than any other Jewish holiday, although those celebrations vary greatly – from strictly Orthodox to totally secular. What they all have in common, though, is some variation of the haggadah, which provides a blueprint for what will occur during the evening. Howeve…