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Off The Shelf: Finding and Creating Families

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

The exploration of family relationships – the families we are born into and the ones we create on our own – forms the basis of three recent novels. Each shows how those relationships form the core of our lives, even while noting how every family has its unique c…

Off the Shelf: Injustice and Ethel Rosenberg

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

During my childhood, I was taught that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were innocent of spying. For those unfamiliar with the case, the Jewish couple was convicted and executed for passing U.S. atomic secrets to the U.S.S.R. Both proclaimed their innocence and my father …

Off the Shelf: Reviewing the Past

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” – L. P. Hartley

L. P. Hartley’s statement came to mind after reading Cynthia Ozick’s short novel “Antiquities” (Alfred A. Knopf) and Edmund De Waal’s musings in “Letters to Camondo…

Off the Shelf: Soviet Jews in Russia and the US

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Post-Soviet Union Jewish identity: is there such a thing? It’s difficult to come up with a specific name for those who once lived in what is now the former U.S.S.R.: Soviet Jews, Russian Jews, or Jews-whose-identity-card-may-have-said-they-were-Jewish-but-who-don…

Off the Shelf: They Fought Back

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Readers might think there are no more World War II stories to tell. Yet, new nonfiction works appear on a regular basis. Sometimes, it’s because a researcher takes an interest in a different aspect of the war or because top-secret files have finally been declassif…