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Off the Shelf: Do movies matter?

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Are motion pictures merely entertainment, or are they worthy of serious, academic study? It’s clear that Helene Meyers believes that movies have made an important contribution to American culture: she explores the way Jewish films have influenced Jews and Gentiles…

Off the Shelf: Three reprints and one new novel

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

A short Yiddish novel reappears
 

No one seems sure why Sholem Aleichem’s short novel “Moshkeleh the Thief: A Rediscovered Novel” (The Jewish Publication Society), which was serialized in 1903 and first released in book form in 1913, was never translated in…

Off the Shelf: Decades after the war

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

The reverberations from traumatic moments can echo through lives even decades after the events took place. Those feelings may remain dormant until something triggers their release and the reactions may surprise everyone. Two recent novels – “A Play for the End f…

Off the Shelf: Religion and sex

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Religion and sex: it can be difficult to separate the two because many people’s attitudes about appropriate sexual behavior were informed by their religious education. However, as Noam Sachs Zion notes in the impressive “Sanctified Sex: The Two-Thousand-Year Je…

Off the Shelf: Characters from real life

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Readers are often curious about whether characters in a novel are based on real life people. That’s why most novels’ reverse title page (the page that contains copyright information and details about the publisher) usually feature statements such as “this is a…