Book Reviews

From the Jewish Provinces: Selected Stories

By
Fradl Shtok (Translated from the Yiddish by Jordan D. Finkin and Allison Schachter)
Review by
Helene Cohen Bludman
Fradl Shtok (1890-1990) was a Yiddish writer from Ukraine who has languished in obscurity. With this splendid collection of 23 of her stories (Northwestern University Press), she may now rightly be recognized as among the best Yiddish writers of her day.

What Remains: Selected Poems

By
David Curzon
Review by
Rabbi Jack Riemer
Most of the 90 poems in What Remains (Ben Yehuda Press) grew out of David Curzon's experiences as he has wandered over the face of the earth. Some are touching recollections of precious moments in his life. Some are reflections on what he has learned by standing before great works of art from different centuries and different continents. Some are conversations with people in his life who meant the most to him and who are no longer among the living. And almost every one of them is a gem.

I Named My Dog Pushkin (and Other Immigrant Tales): Notes from a Soviet Girl on Becoming an American Woman

By
Margarita Gokun Silver
Review by
Helene Cohen Bludman
Margarita Gokun Silver was 20 years old when she left her homeland, the former USSR, to live in the United States. She relates her experiences as a Jewish refugee in a series of darkly funny essays about life in the Soviet Union, family dynamics, and culture shock upon entering "Amerika," as Silver and her high school friends referred to the U.S.

How God Works: The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion

By
David DeSteno
Review by
Rabbi A. James Rudin
In How God Works: The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion (Simon & Schuster), Northeastern University Psychology professor David DeSteno asserts that even skeptics, not just believers, can draw strength and comfort from religion in their personal lives. "Science and religion," he writes, "have often been at odds. But if

The Forgiveness Tour: How to Find the Perfect Apology

By
Susan Shapiro
Review by
Helene Cohen Bludman
Shocked by what she perceived as an egregious betrayal by her longtime psychotherapist, Susan Shapiro embarks on a quest for meaning in her part memoir, part self-help guide, The Forgiveness Tour (Skyhorse Publishing).

Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Shooting and the Soul of a Neighborhood

By
Mark Oppenheimer
Review by
Rabbi A. James Rudin
Shabbat morning, October 27, 2018 marked the day of deadliest antisemitic attack in American history at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mark Oppenheimer’s Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Shooting and the Soul of a Neighborhood (Knopf), focuses not on the killer, but on the reactions of Pittsburghers in general, and especially the responses of Squirrel Hill residents.

Elie Wiesel: Humanist Messenger For Peace

By
Alan L. Berger
Review by
Rabbi A. James Rudin
Elie Wiesel is generally known as a famous Holocaust survivor and author of the book Night. In his succinct new biography, Elie Wiesel: Humanist Messenger For Peace (Routledge), Professor Alan L. Berger brilliantly portrays his former teacher and Nobel Peace Prize winner as a global champion of universal human rights who had an extraordinary impact on contemporary American political, religious, and cultural life.

The Last Kings of Shanghai: The Rival Jewish Dynasties That Helped Create Modern China

By
Jonathan Kaufman
Review by
Rabbi A. James Rudin
In 2010, during Supreme Court Justice Elana Kagan’s tense Senate confirmation hearing, Lindsay Graham (R-SC), who supported her nomination, jokingly asked President Barack Obama’s nominee what she did on Christmas Day. It was a strange, even bizarre question because it had nothing to do with her judicial qualifications. But Kagan’s

I Want You to Know We’re Still Here: a Post-Holocaust Memoir

By
Esther Safran Foer
Review by
Helene Cohen Bludman
If the author’s name sounds familiar, it should. Esther Safran Foer’s son, Jonathan, is the author of the best-selling novel, Everything is Illuminated, a fictionalized story of the pre-Holocaust shtetl called Trochenbrod and his travels to Ukraine to search for the woman who saved his grandfather’s life. I In I