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Off the Shelf: Romance, fantasy or a combination of the two: Part one

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

After some serious literary reading, I decided it was time for something lighter. On my review copy pile were six books that I thought would be perfect for this: romance and fantasy novels. Well, some of the works were more serious than I expected, although others m…

Off the Shelf: Haggadot – practical and impractical

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Most haggadot (the plural of haggadah) are designed for use at the seder table. Some include commentary for those interested in either the spiritual or historical aspects of the ritual. Others offer interpretative versions of the material for those who are unable t…

Off the Shelf: Family and a financial dynasty

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Once in a while, I receive a review copy and shake my head when I open it. “What was I thinking?” I ask myself when I open the book. In the latest case, not only was the novel almost 700 pages, but it was written in blank verse. But, since I did ask for a copy, …

Off the Shelf: Discovering the “why” in biblical stories

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

When we seriously study stories from the biblical books of Genesis and Exodus, we are often left with questions. Why did the characters act that way? Wasn’t there any better way for God to have handled that problem? Is there something we’re missing? The ancient …

Off the Shelf: The jazz age, mobsters and a notorious Jewish madam

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

What makes a biography greater than the story of one individual? When it narrates the history of an age, offering readers a better understanding of the times in which the person lived. That describes Debby Applegate’s excellent “Madam: The Biography of Polly Adl…