book list

These books are recommended by Rabbi Scheinberg and members of the USH congregation.
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Children's Books
Kosher cookbooks and other books about food
Hasidism & Kabbalah
Sephardic and Ashkenazi Culture
Women's Studies
Yiddish Language and Culture

Children's Books

The Best Kids' Books of 2012 from Tablet Magazine;
Children's Books of 2012 from Tablet Magazine;
THE 2012 SYDNEY TAYLOR BOOK AWARDS and Hanukkah Read Up! from the Association of Jewish Libraries.
BEHOLD THE TREES Illus. by Leonid Gore. Recalling the history of Eretz Yisrael from Canaanite times to the founding of the modern state, this beautifully designed book has splendid illustrations that mirror the rise, trials, and achievements of the Jewish people as reflected by Israel's trees. Non-fiction for grades 2-5.
SOLOMON AND THE TREES Illus. by Esti Silverberg-Kiss. Drawing from legends about King Solomon and Jewish teachings about humankind's responsibility to care for nature, this serious, dramatically illustrated story stresses personal responsibility. Tu B'Shevat story for grades 1-4.
THE GOD AROUND US, VOL. 2: THE VALLEY OF BLESSINGS Illus. by Selina Alko. . Prayers and blessings for many of the events that occur in the lives of young children are presented in Hebrew, transliteration, and English, accompanied by lively multicultural illustrations. Picture book for preschool - grade 2.
HANUKKAH CAT Illus. by Judy Hanks-Henn. Amusing new illustrations add sparkle to this appealing story of a little boy who finds a kitten at the start of Hanukkah. The story of the Maccabees and Lenny's adventures with the mischievous kitten are deftly interwoven. Picture book for preschool - grade 2.
SNOW IN JERUSALEM Illus. by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu. During a rare day of snow in Jerusalem, a Jewish boy and an Arab boy who live in the Old City experience a rare moment of friendship when they put aside their differences to help a stray cat. Ethereal watercolor and pencil drawings portray the earthly and the heavenly Jerusalem. Fiction for grades 1-4.
THE RABBI WHO FLEW Colorful gouache paintings in the author-illustrator's primitive style decorate this story about a saintly rabbi with holes in his shoes. The plot expresses the mitzvah of Jew helping Jew within an idealized shtetl setting. Picture book for kindergarten - grade 3.
ON SHABBAT Illus. by Melanie W. Hall. A holiday book, part of a series, that is both stylish and steeped in Jewish knowledge. The dreamy illustrations capture the spirit of the Sabbath. Picture book for grades 1 - 3.
A MOUNTAIN OF BLINTZES Illus. by Anik McGrory. In this humorous story of Jewish life in New York State's Catskill Mountain resort region in the 1920's, a poor family finds a way to celebrate Shavuot. The characters and action recall the traditional tales of Chelm. Picture book for kindergarten - grade 2.
THE FRIDAY NIGHTS OF NANA Illus. By Claire Nivola. In this serene picture book, a little girl helps her grandmother prepare for Shabbat. The celebration of tradition provides an atmosphere of closeness and warmth, a contrast to the wintry world outside. Picture book for preschool - grade 2.
"Joseph Had A Little Overcoat" by Simms Taback (Viking)
When Joseph's favorite overcoat gets old and worn, he makes a jacket out of it. When the jacket is more patches than jacket, Joseph turns it into a vest. When the vest's number is up, Joseph makes a scarf. This thrifty industry continues until there's nothing left of the original garment. But clever Joseph manages to make something out of nothing! (And that's the foreshadowed moral of the story.) (Ages 4-8)
THE HARDEST WORD: A YOM KIPPUR STORY Illus. by Katherine Janus Kahn. The Ziz, a giant bird from Jewish legend, is a softy at heart. He confesses to accidentally doing wrong and G-d assigns him a penance: to find the hardest world. The quest is a joyful learning experience. Picture book for preschool - grade 2.
ZIGAZAK! A MAGICAL HANUKKAH NIGHT Illus. by Jon Goodell. A pair of devils make mischief in the shtetl of Brisk but the rabbi puts an end to their escapades. This jolly story transmits the traditional message that sparks of holiness can be found in unlikely places. Picture book for kindergarten - grade 3.
CAIN AND ABEL: FINDING THE FRUITS OF PEACE Illus. by Joani Keller Rothenberg. Bold splashes of color illustrate this interpretation of a Bible story that emphasizes the destructive power of anger. Running through the narrative is the midrashic tradition of nature's mourning for Abel. Picture book for kindergarten - grade 3.
THE SHABBAT BOX Illus. by Nicole in den Bosch. When Ira loses his class's treasured Shabbat box, he solves the problem by making a new one, all on his own. This empowering story portrays a loving family, a multicultural preschool class, and a child with imagination and perseverance. Instruction for making a Shabbat box are included. Picture book for preschool - grade 1.
LEMUEL, THE FOOL Illus. by Sonja Lamut. Lemuel sails off in search of the city of his dreams, returns home without realizing it, and is astonished that all the people and places look so familiar! A droll, gentle story, beautifully illustrated. Folktale for grades 1-4.
RACHEL CAPTURES THE MOON The foolish folk of Chelm, not content to wait for the moon to rise each evening, try to capture its luminescence permanently. When neither a ladder, a net, nor delicious smelling soup can lure the moon down to earth, a little girl named Rachel captures its reflection in a barrel of water. Folktale for kindergarten - grade 3.
MENDEL ROSENBUSCH: TALES FOR JEWISH CHILDREN Weber, Ilse. Trans. by Ruth and Hans Fisher. Mendel is a good and wise man who has been granted the power to become invisible. He uses his gift to help the poor and right wrongs. These tales paint a knowing portrait of small town life and culture in pre-Holocaust Central Europe. Fiction for grades 3-6
SHOES FOR AMELIE, by Connie SteinerIllus. by Denis Rodier. The heroism of the people of the town of Le Chambon- sur- Lignon, France is portrayed through a story about one courageous and "ordinary" family who sheltered a Jewish child during the Holocaust. Holocaust fiction for grades 3 - 6.
MENDEL ROSENBUSCH: TALES FOR JEWISH CHILDREN, by Ilse Weber; Trans. by Ruth and Hans Fisher. Mendel is a good and wise man who has been granted the power to become invisible. He uses his gift to help the poor and right wrongs. These tales paint a knowing portrait of small town life and culture in pre-Holocaust Central Europe. Fiction for grades 3-6.
THE MAGIC MENORAH: A MODERN CHANUKAH TALE, by Jane Breskin Zalben Illus. by Donna Diamond. An encounter with a Yiddish-spouting genie named Fishel changes Stanley's mind about Hanukkah and family traditions. Fiction for grades 3 - 6.
DAUGHTER OF LIGHT.During the harsh winter of 1944, when food is scarce and electricity has been turned off, a nine year old Dutch girl whose mother is pregnant confronts the town's Nazi-collaborationist mayor to try to convince him to restore the electricity before the baby is born. Historical fiction for grades 4 - 6.
UNDERSTANDING BUDDY, by Mark Kornblatt. A fifth grader discovers that the withdrawn, silent new boy in class is grieving over the sudden death of his mother. Rebuffed by Buddy when he tries to be friendly, Sam searches for answers, including Jewish answers, to the disturbing questions that arise as he tries to understand Buddy. Fiction for grades 5 - 7.
DAUGHTERS OF FIRE: HEROINES OF THE BIBLE, by Fran Manushkin Illus. by Uri Shulevitz. Drawing on both the Bible and on legend, the author portrays heroines of passion and purpose, representing Jewish history from the period of the Patriarchs to the Persian era. Bible stories for grade 5 - 8
THE WAR WITHIN, by Carol Matas After General Grant issues an order expelling all Jews from the territory under his control, teenaged Hannah Green, a Southern belle in the making, begins to question many of the values she took for granted, including slavery. Historical fiction for grades 5 - 9.
HANS AND SOPHIE SCHOLL: GERMAN RESISTERS OF THE WHITE ROSE, by Toby Axelrod A factual account of a small group of courageous German students who resisted Hitler. Photographs, documents, a glossary, bibliography and index increase the book's value for research and reports. Biography for grades 6 and up.
DEATH ON SACRED GROUND, by Harriet Feder She's back! Vivi Hartman, rabbi's daughter and teenage sleuth, uses talmudic reasoning to solve a crime committed on the Seneca Reservation in New York State. Mystery for grades 7-9.
AFTER THE HOLOCAUST, by Greenfeld Howard Focusing on eight Holocaust survivors now living in the United States, this powerful book shows the hardships faced by young survivors, many of whom were without homes, families, identities or hope. Non-fiction for grade 7 and up.
CLARA'S WAR, by Kathy Kacer Thirteen year old Clara and her family are deported from Prague to the concentration camp of Terezin. Through their experiences, the grimness and terror of the camp are shown in contrast to its rich cultural life. Holocaust fiction for grades 6 - 9.
RIVKA'S WAY, by Teri Kanefield Set in eighteenth century Prague, this tells of teenage Rivka's longing to leave the safety of the Jewish Quarter and venture into the larger world that fascinates her outside. Historical fiction for grades 6 - 9.
STOLEN WORDS, by Amy Koss Everything is going wrong on Robyn's vacation with her family in Austria! As recorded in her diary, Robyn's comments and observations are filled with both biting teenage wit and deep concern about her mother, who cannot get over the death of her sister. A colloquial style imparts a serious theme. Fiction for grades 6 - 9.
SECRETS IN THE HOUSE OF DELGADO, by Gloria Miklowitz In a gripping story about "New Christians" and the Inquisition, the author captures the terror of the times and the varying degrees of Jewish loyalty among members of one family. Historical fiction for grades 6 -9.
MARA'S STORIES: GLIMMERS IN THE DARK, by Gary Schmidt In the night and fog of a concentration camp, women and children gather at night to listen to stories told by a prisoner named Mara, the daughter of a rabbi. The stories are adapted from Jewish lore; the listening is an act of resistance. Holocaust fiction for grades 7 and up.
FRIEND OR FOE?, by Eva Vogiel The headmistress of an Orthodox boarding school for girls in England is anxious to discover who, among the school's neighbors, seems to be trying to close it down. Likeable characters and an engrossing plot convey a theme of tolerance. Suspense story for grades 6-9.
SURVIVING HITLER: A BOY IN THE NAZI DEATH CAMPS, by Andrea Warren An inspiring account of the Holocaust experiences of Jack Mandelbaum, who survived three years as a teen in several camps. His zest for life and ability to form friendships enabled him to begin a new life in the United States. Non-fiction for grades 6 - 10.
"With All My Heart, With All My Mind: 13 Stories about Growing Up Jewish" edited by Sandy Asher (Simon and Schuster)
What is a Jew? Does the definition relate to history, ritual, spirituality, Yiddish jokes, social action? The debate is part of the tradition, says Asher in her introduction to these 13 stories by contemporary YA authors, who write with humor, feeling, mystery, and drama about Jewish teenagers' coming-of-age. A few stories are lachrymose and preachy, but some are poignant, funny, argumentative, and wise. Assimilation is a dominant issue: Jacqueline Dembar Green writes about a Sephardic Jew in a small rural town who passes for Italian, until anti-Semitism makes her protest. Merrill Joan Gerber gets the humor of Jewish parents worried about their child's date ("Is he Jewish?"). Gloria Miklowitz's story stretches back to the siege at Masada. Sonia Levitin looks forward to a future community where diversity is valued. Phyllis Shalant writes movingly about a bat mitzvah girl coming to terms with her beloved grandmother's Alzheimer's disease. (young adult)
Faraway Summer, by Johanna Hurwitz
Two weeks seems like forever to Dossi, a 12-year-old Jewish immigrant and orphan who is sent by the Fresh Air Fund to a small Vermont town during the summer of 1910. With her journal as her closest companion, Dossi reflects on her struggle to understand her Christian host family and their rural community--and learns about fireflies and stars, friends and forgiveness. (ages 9-12)
The Bible from Alef to Tav, by Penina Adelman
The Bible from Alef to Tav is a new child's Bible that engages -- and amazes-young readers as it takes them on a fascinating journey into the sacred stories of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Adelman's gently and creatively retold Bible stories are matched up with original calligraphy and artwork by artist Michael Jacobs. The result is a book with much warmth and a sense of surprise that compels children -- and adults -- to turn the page.
Heeding the Call: Jewish Voices in America's Civil Rights Struggle, by Norman Finkelstein
Heeding the Call chronicles the multifaceted role of Jewish Americans in the difficult struggle for civil rights. Their story will inspire the next generation of young Jews and African Americans to renew the legacy of cooperation which once united both groups. The struggle for equal rights in America forged a close connection between African Americans and Jews. But in recent years, that once amicable relationship has become strained. In Heeding the Call, young people will discover how much the shared history of both groups unites rather than divides them. (ages 9-12)
Next Year in Jerusalem: 3000 Years of Jewish Stories, by Howard Schwartz
A princess of light, a vampire demon, peasants, and proud kings appear in these 11 tales of miracles, wisdom, and kindness, adapted by one of the creators of Sabbath Lion (1992). This beautiful collection of Jewish stories is true to its heritage; if the title perfectly echoes that heritage, it may also suggest a more parochial audience than the book, with its universal appeal, deserves. The flowing retellings are presented in suitably unsophisticated language--as folktales should be--with sidebars highlighting useful historical and biblical information. While these can be distracting, they are full of interesting facts and add to the attractiveness of the layout by preventing the pages from appearing too dense with text. Waldman sometimes draws a full- page scene, sometimes chooses a symbol for a vignette. His paintings, in soft sunset watercolors, reflect the dreamy, hope- filled tone of the stories. (ages 9-12)
Bar Mitzvah: A Jewish Boy's Coming of Age, by Eric A. Kimmel
A resource for boys who are preparing for their own ceremonies or wondering what the ceremony feels like provides the historic background of the bar mitzvah itself, describes its ceremonial objects and rituals, and recounts real-life stories. (Ages 11-13)
Menorahs, Mezuzas, and Other Jewish Symbols, by Miriam Chaikin
For over 3,000 years, the lives and customs of the Jewish people have been shaped by a great variety of experiences, commemorated by symbols of these important beliefs and events. Miriam Chaikin explains the most popular symbols as well as others that are less well known. Evocative drawings capture their uniqueness and beauty. (ages 9-12)
Bat Mitzvah: A Jewish Girl's Coming of Age, by Barbara Diamond Goldin
For the first time, a comprehensive--and celebratory--look at one of Judaism's most contemporary traditions. Noted author and storyteller Barbara Diamond Goldin gives readers real-life stories of girls and women in their own voices. From the forgotten women of history to the first women rabbis of our time, the stories will lead readers to reexamine and rediscover the role of women in Judaism. (Ages 11-13)
The Uninvited Guest and Other Jewish Holiday Tales, by Nina Jaffe
A collection of folktales about the major Jewish holidays features stories of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Hanukkah, Purim, Passover, and the Sabbath and Chagall-like illustrations. (ages 9-12)
The Children's Jewish Holiday Kitchen: Seventy Ways to Have Fun With Your Kids and Make Your Family's Celebrations Special, ed. by B. Fetterman, by Joan Nathan, illus. Brooke Scudder
70 child-centered recipes and cooking activities from around the world in which the entire family can participate. Covering the ten major holidays, each of the activities has a different focus, and together they present a vast array of foods, flavors, and ideas.


"A Journey to the End of the Millennium", by A. B. Yehoshua, translated from the Hebrew by Nicholas de Lange, (Doubleday)
The year is 999 and the protagonist is Ben Attar, a North African Jewish merchant who has, for many years, been in profitable partnership with his nephew Abulafia and a Muslim trader named Abu Lutfi. But when Abulafia marries a German Jew who disapproves of his uncle's two wives, the partnership is suddenly dissolved and Ben Attar finds himself out of business. Abulafia's repudiation of his uncle sets the stage for Ben Attar's journey into the heart of Europe at the turn of the millennium.
"The Wedding Jester", by Steve Stern (Graywolf Press)
Rich and wondrous, these nine tales confirm Stern's distinctive place in modern American Jewish fiction, as he continues to stake out his own unique territory where history and myth intersect, where Jewish legends, mysticism and ancient traditions implode into the everyday with dazzling and unforeseen consequences.
"The River Midnight", by Lilian Nattel (Scribner)
Like the mythical Polish shtetl of Blaszka in which it is set, The River Midnight is boisterous, tangled with secrets, and startlingly generous. Told more as nine interwoven stories, Lilian Nattel's debut novel portrays Jewish village life in the 19th century as both dense and wondrous.
"Stones from the River", by Ursula Hegi, (Simon & Schuster)
Trudi Montag is a Zwerg -- a dwarf -- short, undesirable, different, the voice of anyone who has ever tried to fit in. Eventually she learns that being different is a secret that all humans share -- from her mother who flees into madness, to her friend Georg whose parents pretend he's a girl, to the Jews Trudi harbors in her cellar. Ursula Hegi brings us a timeless and unforgettable story in Trudi and a small town, weaving together a profound tapestry of emotional power, humanity, and truth.
Ritual Bath, by Faye Kellerman (Avon)
Detective Peter Decker of the LAPD is stunned when he gets the report. Someone has shattered the sanctuary of a remote yeshiva community in the California hills with an unimaginable crime. One of the women was brutally raped as she returned from the mikvah, the bathhouse where the cleansing ritual is performed. The crime was called in by Rina Lazarus, and Decker is relieved to discover that she is a calm and intelligent witness. She is also the only one in the sheltered community willing to speak of this unspeakable violation. As Rina tries to steer Decker through the maze of religious laws the two grow closer. But before they get to the bottom of this horrendous crime, revelations come to light that are so shocking that they threaten to come between the hard-nosed cop and the deeply religious woman with whom he has become irrevocably linked.
The Quality of Mercy, by Faye Kellerman (Crest)
In this sprawling tale of Elizabethan England, the heroine, Rebecca Lopez, is the gifted, shapely daughter of the Queen's court physician. The Lopezes are conversos, Spanish Jews posing as Anglicans, and they're involved in a dangerous mission to smuggle Jews out of Spain. Rebecca, the beautiful, fiery daughter of Roderigo Lopez, Queen Elizabeth's own physician, keeps many secrets. Not only are she and her family conversos, who must practice their religion in secret, but Rebecca craves adventure and walks about London in male dress. One day she actually crosses swords with a fledgling dramatist named Will Shakespeare. And the two embark on an adventure of passion and danger that shakes the very foundations of the Court--and nearly alters the course of history.
Blood Money, by Rochelle Majer Krich (Twilight)
Jessica Drake isn't new to the ways of a cop. She knows personal involvement can compromise a case, but when an elderly man discovered murdered in the park is found to be a Holocaust survivor, she can't help but invest more of herself than usual in the investigation. Her own recently uncovered Jewish background helps forge her commitment to the old man, whose life spins out before her on tapes he made about his wartime experiences. As she pieces together what she learns from the tapes with the activities of the man's last few days, she uncovers links to a frightened old woman and a philanthropic organization concerned with recovering property stolen from Jews by Nazis during the war. Greed is at the heart of this well-paced, low-key mystery, which offers plenty of twists and turns as it delivers an eye-opening look at some harrowing history and the evil ways men continue to exploit its victims.


"Spinoza: A Life", by Steven Nadler (Cambridge University)
Nadler first provides historical background on the treatment of Jews during the Spanish Inquisition and their eventual resettlement in the Dutch Republic. Later chapters explore Spinoza's relationship to the Jewish community and the possible reasons for his excommunication in 1656, as well as the emergence of his philosophical system. Academically rigorous without becoming ponderous, Spinoza: A Life is splendid both as biography and history, and a worthy introduction to Spinoza's philosophy.
Tough Jews, by Rich Cohen (Vintage Books)
When we think gangster, hood, or wiseguy, we often associate these characters with such names as Capone, Luciano, or even Corleone. However, when organized crime reared its ugly head in the late 1920s in Brooklyn, at the foundation were men like Meyer Lansky and Ben Siegel--both Jews. Rich Cohen's romantic account of Jewish gangsters, Tough Jews, brings to life the story of Jewish involvement in the world of organized crime.
Cohen persuasively achieves his objective by recounting the stories he heard from his father, who grew up with his friends (including broadcaster Larry King) at the end of the gangster era in Brooklyn, finding heroes in men like "Kid Twist" Reles and Bugsy Goldstein. The intriguing tales Cohen heard, although slightly embellished over time, offer a rare glimpse into a world that can barely be related to today's generation of Jews living in America. These Jews went to prison for committing violent felonies, not white-collar crimes, and got the chair for it.
But.He was Good to His Mother, by Robert A. Rockaway (Gefen Publishing House)
Even real gangsters enjoy reading this book. At the American Librarian's Association Convention in July 1996, the NY State Prison librarian approached [the Gefen Publishing House] booth and asked to purchase another copy of the book. When asked why he needed a second book for his library he replied: "Two days after the book arrived it was stolen off the shelves." Gefen have received a lot of positive feedback on this book. It is a somewhat light presentation of a serious subject.


"King David's Harp", edited by Steven Sadow (University of New Mexico Press)
In this collection of fifteen essays, Jewish Latin American writers speak for themselves about their lives, their literary work, their formative experiences, and the Jewish communities in Latin America and the United States. Included are writers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, and Venezuela, about half of whom live outside their country of origin.
An Impossible Life : A Bobeh Myseh : A Novel , by David Black
In an effort to get to the bottom of his mother's mental illness, Leo Polishook reaches back into his family's history, recalling the stories (both real and imagined) passed down to him from generations of loved ones. What emerges from these memories is a kind of modern folklore, a blending of hard-bitten gangster dramas and magical tall tales, many of which purportedly occurred in the same neighborhood, to the same people. Leo sifts through seven generations of family legend, much as his mother, in a state of dementia, sifts his father's ashes through his sister's marijuana strainer, "trying to save his gold." The real gold here is the imaginative manner with which Black structures his bobeh myseh (a Yiddish term for "old wives' tale"), hiding kernels of truth and moral in the center of fantastic stories. (Moyer Bell)
Halitza by Millie Fain Shneir.
Halitza is a simple word, one that many have not heard; yet, in this case, it proves to be profound. According to Jewish law, Halitza must take place before a childless widow is allowed to remarry and must be performed in person. If not for this little word and its primitive ceremony, Pincas Meirowitz wouldn't have uprooted his wife and four young children from their comfortable life in Romania and immigrated to America. If they had remained, all of them would have succumbed to Hitler's hell. Throughout the book there are several stories about Pincas, his wife Golda, and his eight children, and how they cope with growing up and adapting to life in New York. This book reveals the complexity of family, tradition, and survival in twentieth century America. Ms. Shneir is the great-aunt of long-time USH member Josh Youdovin


"Transmission and Transformation: A Jewish Perspective on Moral Education", by Carol K. Ingall (Melton/JTS)
The book is addressed to teachers, principals, and rabbis struggling to make sense of the competing claims of moral education authorities in both the Jewish and general education sectors. It contrasts traditional contemporary Jewish moral education and sets Jewish moral education into the wider context of values education in American public and private schools.


"Yosl Rakover Talks to God", by Zvi Kolitz (Pantheon)
Yosl Rakover Talks to God, a short story that was thought for years to be a nonfiction testimonial, is one of the most highly regarded works of literature to emerge from the Holocaust. It presents itself as the last words of a dying Jew to God. Yosl Rakover, a resistance fighter against the German assault on the Warsaw Ghetto, and the last surviving member of his family, takes pen to paper on April 28, 1943, and writes a searing confession of strength and humility. ("The sun probably has no idea how little I regret that I shall never see it again.") He then seals the story in a glass bottle and hides it in the rubble before returning to the battle in which he will die. This edition of the story includes a long essay about its composition and reception by journalist Paul Badde, an essay from the 1950s by the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, and a response to that essay by Leon Wieseltier (the author of Kaddish). This is a strange and beautiful book, with great power to persuade its readers that we must take time to state for ourselves the nature of our belief or unbelief.
"Along the Edge of Annihilation: The Collapse and Recovery of Life in the Holocaust Diary", by David Patterson (University of Washington Press)
This book is based on more than fifty diaries of Jewish Holocaust victims of all ages, written while the events described were actually taking place. Many of the manuscripts were literally buried by their authors, who wrote knowing that their words might never be read by others but nonetheless did their best to preserve them. Many of the writers did not survive.
"Reading the Holocaust", by Inga Clendinnen (Cambridge University Press)
Clendinnen suggests that only by understanding the minds behind the Final Solution--and not just Hitler and Himmler but the average man in the street and buck private in the army, as well--can we hope to place the Holocaust in historical context. The author divides her study into three parts: in the first (and perhaps most controversial), she discusses the problems inherent in eyewitness accounts; in the second, she examines Nazi psychology; and in the last section, she looks at artistic representations of the Holocaust. Throughout, she amply represents the views of important Holocaust commentators and the many theories that abound. Best of all, she does it in highly readable prose. Reading the Holocaust is. thoughtful, provocative.
"Preempting the Holocaust", by Lawrence L. Langer, Yale Univ. Press
Langer's essays about literary and artistic treatments of holocaust experience, such as Art Spiegelman's Maus books and Cynthia Ozick's Rosa stories. Major themes in this collection include comparisons of women's and men's experiences of the Holocaust, and warnings against interpreting Nazi atrocities as the work of an coldly efficient bureaucracy (because, Langer argues, using metaphors of "killing machines" mitigates one's awareness of the killers' evil). As a whole, "The purpose of these essays is to contribute to the incessant anxious dialogue about how our civilization may absorb into its reasonable hopes for the future the disabling outburst of unreason we name the Holocaust, as it continues to assault memory and imagination with immeasurable sorrow and undiminished force."
"Art from the Ashes : A Holocaust Anthology", by Lawrence L. Langer, Oxford Univ. Press
This far-reaching collection of art, drama, poetry, and prose about the Holocaust--including a powerful visual essay of artwork from the Terezin concentration camp--features the works of men and women, Jews and non-Jews, figures famous and unknown, those who were there and those separated from the ordeal by time and space, to provide a vision of the human reality of the catastrophe. 20 illustrations
"Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory", by Lawrence L. Langer, Yale Univ. Press
Lawrence Langer is the world's preeminent critic of holocaust literature. His Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory, which won the National Books Critics Circle Award in Criticism, is considered by many to be the best, most unflinching account of Jewish oral histories of the holocaust. Disturbing and controversial, this work is based on 300 of the more than 1,400 taped interviews with Holocaust survivors preserved at Yale University's Fortunoff Video Archives. It's disturbing because of the survivors' graphic retelling of the starvation, torture, brutalization and cannibalism that occurred in the Nazi death camps. It's controversial because, instead of focusing on the bravery necessary to endure such horrors, Langer's book delves into the psychic wounds that 50 years after their infliction remain unhealed. "We have these double lives," said one survivor. "We can't cancel out. It just won't go away."
"Holocaust and the Literary Imagination",, by Lawrence L. Langer, Yale Univ. Press


New York, by Harvey Wang (W.W. Norton)
(Harvey Wang's comments) I started taking pictures when I was 13 or 14 years old. I fell in love with it. In 1979 I was living in Chinatown in a loft (I'm not Chinese, so it's funny being a Wang in Chinatown) and my world was the Lower East Side and the East Village. That was a moment in the life of the East Village when along First Ave. there were tons of "mom and pop" stores with owners that were really old, and they were closing right and left. I spent years looking for subjects --- the last practitioner of a dying trade, the last business of one ethnic group after a neighborhood had become home to another ethnic group, a person who was in a profession for a really long time."
"Berlin Metropolis: Jews and the New Culture 1890-1918", edited by Emily D. Bilski (University of California)
Between 1890 and 1918 the city of Berlin evolved into a commercial and industrial hub that also became an international center for radical new ideas in the visual, performing, and literary arts. Jews were key leaders in developing this unique cosmopolitan culture. Berlin Metropolis: Jews and the New Culture, 1890-1918 vividly documents the many ways that Jewish artists and entrepreneurs participated in this burst of artistic creativity and promoted the emergence of modernism on the international scene
"The Multiple Identities of the Middle East", by Bernard Lewis (Schocken Books)
.a sharp diamond of a book. It cuts to the essence of how identity has traditionally been experienced by people in the Middle East, how Western political concepts have altered Middle-Eastern notions of identity, and how these imported Western ideas have inflamed political conflicts in that region. "The primary identities are those acquired at birth," Lewis writes. The first determiner of identity is blood, the second is place, and the third is religious community, which for many is "the only loyalty that transcends local and immediate bonds." Lewis adds, "The second broad category of identity is that of allegiance to a ruler," and notes that these two categories of identity were the only ones that existed until modern times, when the Middle East came under the influence of Europe. Now, he says, "a new kind [of identity] is evolving" between the two traditional categories that existed before. This is "the freely chosen cohesion and loyalty of voluntary associations, combining to form what is nowadays known as the civil society."
"Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews: A Jewish Life and the Emergence of Christianity", by Paula Fredriksen (Alfred A. Knopf)
Fredriksen's big thought is that no one during Jesus' lifetime (including the man himself) considered Jesus to be the Messiah. That interpretation of his life, Fredriksen argues, was occasioned by his death: "Jesus' crucifixion as King of the Jews had come as a shock to his core followers. Their experiences of his continued presence after his death, on the evidence of the Gospels, surprised them, too. Seeking to understand what they had witnessed, they turned to Scripture." Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews makes its argument through careful reconstruction of Jesus' historical context, and dogged attention to the details of his crucifixion and to the fates of his immediate followers. The book's surprising arguments and its lucid style make this a valuable addition to the canon of popular Historical Jesus scholarship.
Fighting to Become Americans: Jews, Gender, and the Anxiety of Assimilation, by Riv-Ellen Prell
How was our rapid transformation from green-horn immigrant to established middle class status perceived by non-Jewish Americans, and by ourselves?  How do the stereotypic models we so love to hate reflect our conflicts as Jewish men and women, struggling to get ahead in the larger community, and with each other?
The Enduring Community: The Jews of Newark and Metrowest, by William B. Helmreich
This fascinating study by a well known sociologist captures both the distinctive and more usual features of a large, metropolitan Jewish community as the city that nurtures as it develops, matures and declines.
To Worship God Properly: Tensions between Liturgical Custom and Halakhah in Judaism, by Ruth Langer
After the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 C.E., the Jewish people were left without a physical home.  Langer takes us from the first century through medieval times to show how the rabbis' careful construction of prayer guidelines was at times accepted and at times modified, depending on the surrounding, dominant cultures where our people settled.

Hasidism & Kabbalah

"The Religious Thought of Hasidism: Text and Commentary (Sources and Studies in Kabbalah, Hasidism, and Jewish Thought, vol. 4", by Norman Lamm (KTAV)
"Living the Kabbalah: a Guide to the Sabbath and the Festivals in the Teachings of Rabbi Rafael Moshe Luria", by Simcha H. Benyosef (Continuum) This book was written under an assumed name by an observant Israeli woman, "because Orthodox women don't write on Talmud, much less Kabbalah." She discusses basic elements of Kabbalah through the prism of the Jewish calendar, giving the seekers familiar hooks to hang our newly discovered insights into this ageless discipline.


Reply, by Eli Hertz
Reply to the Advisory Opinion of the international Court of Justice in the matter of the Legal Conseqences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Ambassador Dore Gold, Former Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, reviewed Reply and wrote "Eli Hertz has done an enormous service by providing a cogent point-by-point rebuttal to the ICJ's Opinion." Louis Rene Beres, Professor of International Law, Purdue University, wrote " An informed "Reply" to this jurisprudential mockery by the International Court of Justice has been prepared by Eli Hertz.
Eli Hertz is the President of Myths and Facts, Inc. a nonprofit organization devoted to research and publication of information regarding U.S. global interests - particularly in the Middle East. Hertz published and sponsored books and articles regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict. Most notably are "Partners for Change, How U.S.-Israel Cooperation Can Benefit America" (1993), "Myths and Facts, a Guide to the Arab-Israeli conflict" (September, 2001 edition), and "Who is Humiliating Whom." A new volume on the Arab-Israeli conflict "Negotiating Over Quicksand - A Realistic Look at the Arab-Israeli Conflict," is scheduled for release shortly.
"The Hebrew Folktale: History, Genre, Meaning", by Jacqueline S. Teitelbaum (Translator), Eli Yassif, Dan Ben-Amos Eli Yassif is Professor of Hebrew literature and Jewish Folklore at Tel-Aviv University. The Hebrew Folktale seeks to find and define the folk-elements of Jewish culture. Through the use of generic distinctions and definitions developed in folkloristics, Yassif describes the major trends--structural, thematic, functional--of folk narrative in the central periods of Jewish culture. Eli Yassif describes the major trends - structural, thematic, functional - of folk narrative in the central periods of Jewish culture and shows the social function and cultural meaning of the Hebrew folktale. Analyzing texts in their historical and cultural context, he examines the transmission of the Hebrew folktale and looks at the interaction between texts from different times and contexts.
"Living Letters of the Law: Ideas of the Jew in Medieval Christianity", by Jeremy Cohen (University of California Press)
In Living Letters of the Law, Jeremy Cohen investigates the images of Jews and Judaism in the works of medieval Christian theologians from Augustine to Thomas Aquinas. He reveals how--and why--medieval Christianity fashioned a Jew on the basis of its reading of the Bible, and how this hermeneutically crafted Jew assumed distinctive character and power in Christian thought and culture.

Sephardic and Ashkenazi Culture

"A Drizzle of Honey: The Lives and Recipes of Spain's Secret Jews", by David Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson (St. Martin's Press)
When tens of thousands of Iberian Jews were converted to Catholicism under duress during the Inquisition, many rapidly assimilated to their new religious culture. Others, the crypto-Jews, struggled to retain their Jewish identity in private while projecting Christian conformity in the public sphere. In their drive to root out these heretics, the courts of the Inquisition published checklists of Jewish household habits and koshering practices and "grilled" the servants, neighbors, and even the children of those suspected of practicing their religion at home.
From these testimonies and other primary sources, David. M. Gitlitz & Linda Kay Davidson have drawn a fascinating picture of this precarious sense of Jewish identity. Drawing on nearly a hundred specific references to the Sephardic cuisine, the authors have re-created these recipes. They combine Christian and Islamic traditions in cooking lamb, beef, fish, eggplants, chickpeas, and greens and use seasonings such as saffron, mace, ginger, and cinnamon. These recipes, with accompanying text telling the stories of the people who created them, promise to delight the adventurous palate and give insights into the foundations of modern Sephardic cuisine.
"Heretics or Daughters of Israel? The Crypto-Jewish Women of Castile", by Renee Levine Melammed (Oxford University Press)
"Secrecy and Deceit: the Religion of Crypto-Jews,", by David M. Gitlitz, Jewish Publication Soc. Despite the increased attention given to Hispano-Jewish topics, and the "conversos" or Crypto-Jews in particular, this is the first thorough compilation of their customs and practices. Gitlitz has culled from Inquisition documents and other sources to paint a portrait of the richness and diversity of Crypto-Jewish practices in Spain, Portugal, and the New World.

Women's Studies

"Voices of the Matriarchs: Listening to the Prayers of Early Modern Jewish Women", by Chava Weissler (Beacon Press)
Most studies of Judaism focus on sources produced by and for learned men - the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the Midrash, legal codes, and works of medieval philosophy, mysticism, and Hasidism. All these texts were written in Hebrew - a language seventeenth- through nineteenth-century Jewish women were not given the opportunity to learn. With Voices of the Matriarchs, Chava Weissler restores balance to our knowledge of Judaism by providing the first look at non-Hebrew Jewish source materials: the vernacular women's devotional prayers called tkhines. In Weissler's hands, these Yiddish prayers open a window into early modern Ashkenazic women's lives, beliefs, devotion, and relationships with God.
"Heretics or Daughters of Israel? The Crypto-Jewish Women of Castile", by Renee Levine Melammed (Oxford University Press)
"Bringing Home the Light: a Jewish Woman's Handbook of Rituals", by E. M. Broner (Council Oak Books). We learn feminist liturgy by doing tashlich during Rosh Hashanah, celebrating Sukkoth "in the sky," and commemorating Hanukkah by invoking our foremothers Judith and Deborah. Dr. Broner's goal, to remember the rituals of our mothers through meaningful, transformative Jewish observance, succeeds admirably.
"A Spiritual Life: a Jewish Feminist Journey", by Merle Feld (SUNY). We find ourselves nodding in agreement with Feld's poetry after reading her quite personal imagery, using her words to capture our own precious moments with added verve and intensity. Feld intersperses her poems with her life experiences. We accompany her in this spiritual autobiography, and by sharing it, are ourselves made more complete.
"Tears of Sorrow, Seeds of Hope: a Jewish Companion for Infertility and Pregnancy Loss", by Nina Beth Cardin (Jewish Lights). Cardin deals with feelings of hopelessness and loss that women face all too often. Her anthology of readings and rituals squarely confront the problems of infertility, miscarriage, and infant death. Through these heartfelt words, women have permission to grieve without the platitudes that well-intentioned, yet insensitive people sometimes offer. The pain and despair still remain, of course. But knowing we are not along accelerates healing and hope.
Which Lilith? Feminist Writers Re-create the World's First Woman, ed. by E. Dame, L. Rivlin, H. Wenkart,
treats us to contemporary poetry and prose, fiction and treatises, drawing a comprehensive "biographic sketch" of Eve's predecessor, the charter member of The First Wives' Club.

Yiddish Language and Culture

"Polin: Focusing on Galicia: Jews, Poles, and Ukrainians", edited by Israel Bartal and Antony Polonsky (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization)
"Poyln: Jewish Life in the Old Country", by Alter Kacyzne, Marek Web, Sulamita Kacyzne-Reale (YIVO/Holt)
Never-before-published, luminous photographs of Polish Jewish life in the 1920s by an undiscovered master. In 1921, photographer Alter Kacyzne was commissioned by the New York Yiddish daily, the Forverts, to document images of Jewish life in "the old country." Kacyzne's assignment became a ten-year journey across Poyln (as Poland's three million Yiddish-speaking Jews called their home), from the crowded ghettos of Warsaw and Krakow to the remote villages of Ostrog and Brisk. His candid and intimate views of teeming village squares and rustic workshops, cattle markets and spinning wheels give us a privileged view of a world that is no more.

Kosher cookbooks and other books about food

Hoboken Cooks -- Favorite Recipes from the Mile Square City, by the United Synagogue of Hoboken.
Dozens of recipes from all over the world, including "Best Ever Chocolate Cake" and Rabbi Rob Scheinberg and Rabbi Naomi Kalish's world-famous mushroom dip. This wonderful cookbook (even if we say so ourselves) is yours for the clicking!
Hoboken Cooks for Kids -- Family-friendly Recipes from the Mile Square City, by the United Synagogue of Hoboken.
Recipes your family will love -- we guarantee kids will eat THESE vegetables. Includes nutritional information for all recipes. Now in a pdf file available for downloading.
The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York, by Claudia Roden
A monumental work--the story of the Jewish people told through the story of Jewish cooking-- The Book of Jewish Food traces the development of both Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jewish communities and their cuisine over the centuries. The 800 magnificent recipes, many never before documented, represent treasures garnered by Roden through nearly 15 years of traveling around the world.
The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook, by Evelyn Rose
Familiar and well-loved dishes from Jewish communities in Israel, France, the United States, Morocco, Greece, Syria, Turkey, and many more are complemented by menu suggestions and new dishes from a wide variety of cultures, both Ashkenazi and Sephardi, for Passover and other holidays.
The Children's Jewish Holiday Kitchen: Seventy Ways to Have Fun With Your Kids and Make Your Family's Celebrations Special, ed. by B. Fetterman, by Joan Nathan, illus. Brooke Scudder
70 child-centered recipes and cooking activities from around the world in which the entire family can participate. Covering the ten major holidays, each of the activities has a different focus, and together they present a vast array of foods, flavors, and ideas.
Faye Levy's International Jewish Cookbook: Over 250 New and Traditional Recipes for Holidays and Every Day, by Faye Levy
Peppered with personal anecdotes, cultural insights, and historic lore, this collection of tantalizing recipes by an award-winning chef is "truly a celebration. . . .(It) enlightens us about the diversity of the rich Jewish culinary heritage"--Susy Davidson, Food Editor, Food & Wine.
Helen Nash's Lower-Fat Kosher Kitchen: Healthful and, Nutritious Recipes for Everyday Eating and Entertaining, by Helen Nash
The author of Kosher Cuisine introduces an innovative cookbook for everyday that combines healthy eating with the kosher kitchen. Nash's recipes cover everything from a simple lunch to a full dinner party menu, with an eye to the lighter and healthier standards of today's cooking.
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