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Book Review Stream

Off the Shelf: Defining and defying stereotypes

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Is it possible to objectively critique films, TV, books and music? In the past, scholars/researchers acted as if they were independent observers whose socio-economic and religious backgrounds had no impact on their opinions. In contemporary times, though, there are…

Off the Shelf: Saints, a living house, ghosts and fantastical moments

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Saints, demons and other mythical creatures

When one describes a novel as containing “everything but the kitchen sink,” it’s usually not meant in a positive way. In the case of “The Hidden Saint” by Mark Levenson (Level Best Books/New Arc), that phrase s…

Off the Shelf: Antisemitism and lies

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

An Anti-Defamation League audit noted that “antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high in the United States in 2021, with a total of 2,717 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism reported to ADL (the Anti-Defamation League).” (To see the report, cli…

Off the Shelf: Miscellaneous fiction for fall

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

A family mystery

Matt Goldman is best known for his wise-cracking Nils Shapiro detective series. However, as “Carolina Moonset” (Forge) shows, Goldman also excels at portraying family connections. Although the narrator, 46-year-old Joey Green, prefers using hu…

Off the Shelf: Reviewing the past

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Can we truly understand the past – not only the stories of our relatives, but our own actions – if we don’t know everything that occurred? Can learning a different side to events from years before change the way we view the world? These ideas are explored in t…