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Off the Shelf: Love and Talmud

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

It can be dismaying to reread a favorite novel decades after its publication. Feminists, in particular, now realize many works they loved ignored women’s experiences. That’s what happened to Maggie Anton. When rereading Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen” and “T…

Off the Shelf: Son and father, father and son

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

The first, and sometimes most important, relationship in our lives is with our parents. However, rarely do we read works that show that relationship from both points of view: that of a child about a parent and then a parent about a child. That’s what made reading …

Off the Shelf: The narrator is a novel

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Some reviews are more difficult to write than others. Take, for example, “The Pages” by Hugo Hamilton (Alfred A. Knopf): Although I loved the novel, which is filled with beautiful prose and wonderful descriptions, I knew it was not for everyone. First, the narra…

Off the Shelf: Fear to hate to persecution

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

“The more things change, the more they stay the same” – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

The above quote came to mind when thinking about two recent works that speak to the way fear can turn to hate and persecution. At first, “Poisoned Wells: Accusations, Persec…

Off the Shelf: Tales from Poland and Israel

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

There are several approaches to writing short stories. Some offer only a brief glimpse of a person’s life or thoughts. Others tell of events that encompass decades, but which focus only on the most relevant details. Each approach offers something different, remin…