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Off the Shelf: Social justice messages from Proverbs

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

A new genre of biblical commentary has appeared over the past few years. Rather than doing a line-by-line discussion of the text, these commentators use the text as a starting point to explore contemporary moral and ethical problems. One recent example is “The Bo…

Off the Shelf: Family and religion

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

An author once commented that she enjoyed seeing her book “in conversation” with another in one of my reviews. I’d never thought about my work in those terms, but I often try to pair books with similar themes because the reviews are more interesting to write …

Celebrating Jewish Literature: What remains after grief

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Even though Steve Leder conducted more funerals than he could count in his 30 years in the rabbinate, it wasn’t until he experienced personal loss – the death of his father – that he developed a new philosophy: one that says death offers people the opportunity…

Celebrating Jewish Literature: Reconstructing a life

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

How wonderful to read a memoir by someone who loves his mother. That love comes through clearly in Wayne Hoffman’s “The End of Her: Racing Against Alzheimer’s to Solve a Murder” (Heliotrope Books). Except for a short time when he was coming to terms with his…

Celebrating Jewish Literature: Summer, marriage and melodrama

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Google defines melodrama as “a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions.” I consider melodrama to also include too many unbelievable coincidences and events. But that doesn’t mean melodrama i…