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Searching the past for answers by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Scholars and historians study documents and photographs, visit meaningful sites and interview people connected to the events. Family members search for answers to questions they were too young to have asked when their parents or grandparents were still alive. No mat…

Off the Shelf: Parasha and prophet by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

There are many different ways to contemplate and study words of Torah. We can study the intricacies of the Chumash, the first five books, mining them for how best to live our lives. Or we can focus on the prophetic writings, which speak to ethics beyond ritual. Fortunately, we don’t have t…

Off the Shelf: Searching for paradise by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Pardes, paradise, the orchard: the opening epigraph of David Hopen’s novel “The Orchard” (Ecco/HarperCollins) quotes from the Talmud, telling the story of four rabbis who visited paradise. One dies, the second becomes insane, the third becomes an apostate and only the fourth emerges wh…

Off the Shelf: Different life paths by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Both intermarried, but only one’s spouse converted. Both struggled with the religious aspects of Judaism, yet one felt strong enough about Zionism to make aliyah. Each became a writer, although their paths to being published greatly differed. Courtney Zoffness, who has won awards for her f…

Off the Shelf: Fictional versions of real life by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Novels based on true stories: there are several ways these can be written. One is to create characters who borrow from the experience of real people, but who are definitely fictional. Another is to treat a real person as a character and write a fictionalized version of a biography or memoir.…