Book Reviews

On a Clear April Morning: A Jewish Journey

By
Marcos Iolovitch (translation by Merrie Blocker)
Review by
Marcia R. Rudin
On a clear April morning in the early 1900s, Brazilian poet and author Marcos Iolovitch’s father, Yossef, a merchant in Russia, saw “beautiful brochures with colored illustrations describing the excellent climate…of a vast and faraway country of America.” Homesteads on favorable terms were being offered to “all those who wished

The Dairy Restaurant

By
Ben Katchor
Ben Katchor, an American cartoonist and illustrator best known for his critically acclaimed comic strip Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, begins The Dairy Restaurant (Schocken Books, 2020) with the Garden of Eden story. He speculates whether Adam and Eve were the world’s first vegetarians, and we follow his journey through

The Book of V

By
Anna Solomon
Review by
Helene Cohen Bludman
The lives of three fiercely driven women intersect and overlap through time and space in Anna Solomon’s enthralling new novel. The Book of V begins in present-day Park Slope, Brooklyn, with Lily reading her young daughters the story of Esther in preparation for the Purim carnival. Lily rushes through the

Other People’s Pets

By
R. L. Maizes
Review by
Helene Cohen Bludman
La La Fine quits veterinary school to rob houses, but it’s for a good reason: to keep her father Zev from going to jail. Not exactly a typical scenario, but in R. L. Maizes’ debut novel, Other People’s Pets (Celadon Books, 2020), there is a family tradition of burglary, and

The Survival of the Jews in France, 1940-44

By
Jacques Semelin (translated by Cynthia Schoch and Natasha Lehrer)
Review by
Rabbi A. James Rudin
In his new book The Survival of the Jews in France, 1940-44 (Oxford Press), Jacques Semelin, professor emeritus of history and political science at the Paris Institute of Political Science, focuses on a frequently overlooked statistic: 240,000 of the 320,000 Jews living in France in 1940 survived the war within that nation’s borders.

Embracing Auschwitz

By
Joshua Hammerman
Review by
Rabbi Jack Riemer
Joshua Hammerman’s Embracing Auschwitz color:black"> (Ben Yehuda Press) deserves our attention because it is by far the most original book on this subject that has come along in a great many years.

Radiance: Creative Mitzvah Living

By
Danny Siegel
Review by
Rabbi Jack Riemer
In his introduction to Radiance: Creative Mitzvah Living, Rabbi Neal Gold writes that Danny Siegel’s teachings have profoundly shaped American Jewry – and he’s right.

Exile Music

By
Jennifer Steil
Review by
Marcia R. Rudin
The story is narrated by Orly Zingel, who, at age 11, journeys with her parents from Vienna to Genoa to Chile and finally to La Paz, leaving behind her older brother, Willi.

Married to the Rabbi: Sixty Spouses of Retired Reform Rabbis in their Own Words

By
Naomi Patz and Judith Maslin
Review by
Marcia R. Rudin
In 60 essays collected throughout a five-year period by the National Association of Retired Reform Rabbis, rabbis’ spouses share memories and insights about their lives. The pieces vary in length, tone, and writing style, even including poetry – but all add to the fascinating discussion.