Book Reviews

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

Review of the New 5-Volume Steinsaltz Collection

By
Edited by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
Review by
Jack Riemer
A review of the New 5-Volume Steinsaltz Collection: A Concise Guide to the Torah, A Concise Guide to Halakhah, A Concise Guide to Mahshavah, A Concise Guide to the Sages THE SAGES, and A Reference Guide to the Talmud.

Layers: Personal Narratives of Struggle, Resilience, and Growth from Jewish Women

By
Shira Lankin Sheps, Foreword by Rachel Hercman
Review by
Marcia R. Rudin
In 2015, Shira Lankin Sheps, a clinically trained therapist, blogged about her long struggle with chronic pain. The overwhelming number of positive responses from other women prompted her to create an online magazine called The Layers Project. The success of this attempt to allow women to talk frankly about their

Philip Roth: A Counterlife

By
Ira Nadel
Review by
Helene Cohen Bludman
Philip Roth (1933-2018), one of the most prolific and acclaimed authors in the history of American literature. He is the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Man Booker International Prize. In his complicated private life, Roth was often an unhappy man. Ira Nadel’s comprehensive biography

Contested Utopia: Jewish Dreams and Israeli Realities

By
Marc J. Rosenstein
Review by
Rabbi Robert Orkand
Growing up in the years following the founding of the State of Israel, I, like so many of my generation, was taught that the new Jewish state was the fulfillment of a utopian dream: a Jewish homeland after almost 2000 years of exile. It would be a refuge for persecuted diaspora Jews and its governance guided by Jewish values.

Those Who Are Saved

By
Alexis Landau
Review by
Helene Cohen Bludman
Very few Jews managed to escape the Holocaust and find refuge in the United States. In her novel Those Who Are Saved, Alexis Landau tells the story of Vera and Max, whose artistic talents and connections afforded them a new life in America without sacrificing the privileged lifestyle they enjoyed before the war.

Jewish End-of-Life Care in a Virtual Age: Our Tradition Reimagined

By
Edited by Dayle A. Friedman, David Levin, and Simcha Paull Raphael
Review by
Jack Riemer
The pandemic has changed every aspect of our lives, even the way we become ill and the way we die. We used to lie in the hospital surrounded by our family and friends. Now no one is allowed to be with us for fear of contagion. We used to be

The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir

By
Sherry Turkle, Penguin Press, 2021
Review by
Marcia R. Rudin
The Empathy Diaries is Dr. Sherry Turkle’s fascinating attempt to explore, as she explains, “how this personal story meshed with my professional journey” – and what an illustrious professional journey this dual sociologist and clinical psychologist has had! Dr. Turkle is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies