By Arlene Ratzabi, Librarian, Hendel Family Library
Thinking about Good and Evil traces the most salient Jewish ideas about why innocent people seem to suffer, why evil individuals seem to prosper, and God’s role in such matters of (in)justice, from antiquity to the present. Starting with the Bible and Apocrypha, Rabbi Wayne Allen takes us through the Talmud; medieval Jewish philosophers and Jewish mystical sources; the Ba’al Shem Tov and his disciples; early modern thinkers such as Spinoza, Mendelssohn, and Luzzatto; and, finally, modern thinkers such as Cohen, Buber, Kaplan, and Plaskow. Each chapter analyzes individual thinkers’ arguments and synthesizes their collective ideas on the nature of good and evil and questions of justice. Allen also exposes vastly divergent Jewish thinking about the Holocaust: traditionalist (e.g., Ehrenreich), revisionist (e.g., Rubenstein, Jonas), and deflective (e.g., Soloveitchik, Wiesel).
Appointed by Philip Roth and granted independence and complete access, Blake Bailey spent years poring over Roth’s personal archive, interviewing his friends, lovers, and colleagues, and engaging Roth himself in breathtakingly candid conversations. The result is an indelible portrait of an American master and of the postwar literary scene.
A searing history that brings to light the extraordinary accomplishments of brave Jewish women who became resistance fighters—a group of unknown heroes whose exploits have never been chronicled in full, until now. Judy Batalion—the granddaughter of Polish Holocaust survivors—takes us back to 1939 and introduces us to Renia Kukielka, a weapons smuggler and messenger who risked death traveling across occupied Poland on foot and by train. Joining Renia are other women who served as couriers, armed fighters, intelligence agents, and saboteurs, all who put their lives in mortal danger to carry out their missions. Batalion follows these women through the savage destruction of the ghettos, arrest and internment in Gestapo prisons and concentration camps, and for a lucky few—like Renia, who orchestrated her own audacious escape from a brutal Nazi jail—into the late 20th century and beyond.
In The Telling, Mark Gerson, host of The Rabbi’s Husband podcast and renowned Jewish philanthropist, shows us how to make the Seder the most engaging, inspiring, and important night of the Jewish year. God didn’t design the Seder to put your kids to sleep. Instead, the Seder is an experience your family should love, treasure and remember. Have you ever wondered that there might be something more to Passover, the Seder and in the Haggadah―something that just might hold the secrets to living the life of joy and meaning that you were intended to? The Telling will enable you to see what the Haggadah really is: The Greatest Hits of Jewish Thought.
Roots: This first-ever anthology of Neo-Hasidic philosophy brings together the writings of its progenitors: five great twentieth-century European and American Jewish thinkers—Hillel Zeitlin, Martin Buber, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Shlomo Carlebach, and Zalman Schachter-Shalomi—plus a young Arthur Green. Branches: This volume brings this discussion into the twenty-first century, highlighting Neo-Hasidic approaches to key issues of our time. Eighteen contributions by leading Neo-Hasidic thinkers open with the credos of Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Arthur Green. Or Rose wrestles with reinterpreting the rebbes’ harsh teachings concerning non-Jews. Ebn Leader assesses the perils of trusting one’s whole being to a single personality: can Neo-Hasidism endure as a living tradition without a rebbe? Shaul Magid candidly calibrates Shlomo Carlebach: how “the singing rabbi” transformed him and why Magid eventually walked away.
As World War II raged in North Africa, General Erwin Rommel was guided by an uncanny sense of his enemies’ plans and weaknesses. In the summer of 1942, he led his Axis army swiftly and terrifyingly toward Alexandria, with the goal of overrunning the entire Middle East. Each step was informed by detailed updates on British positions. The Nazis, somehow, had a source for the Allies’ greatest secrets. War of Shadows is the cinematic story of the race for information in the North African theater of World War II, set against intrigues that spanned the Middle East. It portrays the conflict not as an inevitable clash of heroes and villains but a spiraling series of failures, accidents, and desperate triumphs that decided the fate of the Middle East and quite possibly the outcome of the war.
Beyond the Synagogue argues that nostalgic activities such as visiting the Museum at Eldridge Street or eating traditional Jewish foods should be understood as American Jewish religious practices. In making the case that these practices are not just cultural, but are actually religious, Rachel B. Gross asserts that many prominent sociologists and historians have mistakenly concluded that American Judaism is in decline, and she contends that they are looking in the wrong places for Jewish religious activity. Gross argues that these practices illuminate how many American Jews are finding and making meaning within American Judaism today.
A finalist for the 2020 National Jewish Book Award for scholarship–a broad, systematic account of one of the most original and creative kabbalists, biblical interpreters, and Talmudic scholars the Jewish tradition has ever produced.
1942. Sadie Gault is eighteen and living with her parents in the Kraków Ghetto during World War II. When the Nazis liquidate the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother are forced to seek refuge in the perilous tunnels beneath the city. One day Sadie looks up through a grate and sees a girl about her own age buying flowers. Ella Stepanek is an affluent Polish girl living a life of relative ease with her stepmother, who has developed close alliances with the occupying Germans. While on an errand in the market, she catches a glimpse of something moving beneath a grate in the street. Upon closer inspection, she realizes it’s a girl hiding. Ella begins to aid Sadie and the two become close, but as the dangers of the war worsen, their lives are set on a collision course that will test them in the face of overwhelming odds. Inspired by incredible true stories.
Nineteenth-century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard viewed the story as teaching suspension of ethics for the sake of faith, and subsequent Jewish thinkers developed this idea as a cornerstone of their religious worldview. Aaron Koller examines and critiques Kierkegaard’s perspective—and later incarnations of it—on textual, religious, and ethical grounds. He also explores the current of criticism of Abraham in Jewish thought, from ancient poems and midrashim to contemporary Israel narratives, as well as Jewish responses to the Akedah over the generations.
Enter the packed courtroom and take your seat as a juror on the Cain v. Abel trial. Soon, the prosecution and defense attorneys (angels from Jewish legend) will call Cain, Abel, Sin, Adam, Eve, and God to the witness stand to present their perspectives on the world’s first murder.
In the words of the author “I am of two minds in this little book. No, maybe three minds. The eye-mind leaps at images. The ear-mind trawls for language. The spirit, if there is such a thing, is a fool for beauty, logic, revelation, the play between order and disorder, the silences between…”
Ms. Ostriker was selected in 2018 as the New York State Poet Laureate.
A tale that captures the shifting meanings of the past, and how our experience colors those meanings. Lloyd Wilkinson Petrie, one of the seven elderly trustees of the now defunct (for thirty-four years) Temple Academy for Boys, is preparing a memoir of his days at the school, intertwined with the troubling distractions of present events. As he navigates, with faltering recall, between the subtle anti-Semitism that pervaded the school’s ethos and his fascination with his own family’s heritage–in particular, his illustrious cousin, the renowned archaeologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie–he reconstructs the passions of a childhood encounter with the oddly named Ben-Zion Elefantin, a mystifying older pupil who claims descent from Egypt’s Elephantine Island.
A novel intertwining the lives of three women across three centuries as their stories of sex, power, and desire finally converge in the present day. Lily, Vivian and Esther, three characters’ riveting stories overlap and ultimately collide, illuminating how women’s lives have and have not changed over thousands of years.
Two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present are explored as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. The sisters, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?
Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, and for good reason: he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who adored him completely. And then, one day, he was lost. . . . Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. Along the way, we are shown a miracle — that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.
In this novel-in-letters, autistic eleven-year-old Vivy Cohen won’t let anything stop her from playing baseball–not when she has a major-league star as her pen pal. Vivy Cohen is determined. She’s had enough of playing catch in the park. She’s ready to pitch for a real baseball team. But Vivy’s mom is worried about Vivy being the only girl on the team, and the only autistic kid. She wants Vivy to forget about pitching, but Vivy won’t give up. When her social skills teacher makes her write a letter to someone, Vivy knows exactly who to choose: her hero, Major League pitcher VJ Capello. Then two amazing things happen: A coach sees Vivy’s amazing knuckleball and invites her to join his team.
When Noa refuses to swap food from her lunch one day, her friends wonder why. She explains it’s because it’s Passover. For the rest of the week, she brings Passover foods to school to share with her friends to let them enjoy the holiday fun.
It’s the Spring of 1933 in Washington D.C., and the Great Depression is hitting young Muriel’s family hard. Her father has lost his job, and her family barely has enough food most days, let alone for a Passover Seder. They don’t even have any wine to leave out for the prophet Elijah’s ceremonial cup. With no feast to rush home to, Muriel wanders by the Lincoln Memorial, where she encounters a mysterious magician in whose hands juggled eggs become lit candles. After she makes a kind gesture, he encourages her to run home for her Seder, and when she does, she encounters a holiday miracle, a bountiful feast of brisket, soup, and matzah. But who was this mysterious benefactor?
In the beginning, God’s garden is beautiful and peaceful, but it doesn’t stay that way. Everyone has something to say! Rain brags that it’s the most refreshing. Birds boast that they’re the most splendid. Earthworms bluster about their busyness. Then Children come along, claiming to be the best of all. And it’s only fair that the best is loved most, isn’t it?
When the exhausted winter wind throws a snowy tantrum, it finds comfort in the friendship of two young children in this lyrical retelling of a Yiddish folktale illustrated with stunning collage.
Winter Wind worked hard all season long
blowing away leaves,
preparing trees for coats of snow and ice.
Now, Wind is tired and needs a place to rest. But no one wants to shelter so cold and blustery a Wind–not the townspeople, not the country innkeeper, not even the gnarled tree who is worried about frozen roots. Finally, Wind does what any of us do when we are overtired: Wind has a tantrum. And it is only with the help of two small children brave enough to weather the storm that Wind finally finds the perfect place to sleep.
After a pogrom forces Batya’s Russian Jewish family to leave their home and make the journey to America, Batya hopes her new life will offer her a chance to become a woodcarver like her beloved father. But while many things in America are different from the world of her shtetl, one thing seems to be the same: only boys can be woodcarvers. Still, Batya is determined to learn. With the same perseverance that helped her family survive and start over in an unfamiliar land, Batya sets out to carve a place for herself.
It’s Mimouna ― the Moroccan Jewish holiday that marks the end of Passover, and when blessings are given for a year of prosperity and good luck. Miriam wants to help her mother make the sweet moufleta pancakes they always eat at their Mimouna party, but after not eating doughy treats for the week of Passover, they don’t have any flour in the house! So, Miriam’s mother takes her to visit their Muslim neighbors, who share their flour. The women drink tea together, and Miriam makes friends with a young girl named Jasmine.
Named Best Book of the Year by Barnes & Noble, The New York Times/New York Public Library, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal. In this full, bright, and beautiful picture book, many different perspectives around the world are deftly and empathetically explored—from a pair of bird-watchers to the pigeons they’re feeding. Young readers will be drawn into the luminous illustrations inviting them to engage with the world in a new way and see how everyone is connected, and that everyone matters.
Osnat was born five hundred years ago – at a time when almost everyone believed in miracles. But very few believed that girls should learn to read. Yet Osnat’s father was a great scholar whose house was filled with books and she convinced him to teach her. Then she in turn grew up to teach others, becoming a wise scholar in her own right, the world’s first female rabbi! Some say Osnat performed miracles – like healing a dove who had been shot by a hunter! Or saving a congregation from fire! But perhaps her greatest feat was to be a light of inspiration for other girls and boys; to show that any person who can learn might find a path that none have walked before.
In a faraway village, can anyone make the royal prince smile? Zlatah Leah is a capable girl, talented in many things. One day, she joins her village’s effort to make the prince smile again and takes her challah-baking expertise to the royal palace. She is sure that she has just what it takes to turn things around, but after nothing seems to work, she wonders if anyone at all can succeed. Can she?
Discover what happens when one girl wants to break barriers in a sport dominated by boys in this exciting and thoughtful novel by the author of The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary.
Mikayla is a wrestler; when you grow up in a house full of brothers who wrestle, it’s inevitable. It’s also a way to stay connected to her brothers and her dad. Some people object to having a girl on the team. But that’s not stopping Mikayla. She’s going to work hard, and win.