Book Reviews

Contested Utopia: Jewish Dreams and Israeli Realities

By
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

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

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

The Lost Shtetl

By
Max Gross
Review by
Helene Cohen Bludman
The Lost Shtetl is a debut novel rich with whimsy and heart – but first, prepare to suspend your disbelief. When you do, you’ll settle in for an absorbing tale of a shtetl called Kreskol, located in a remote area of Poland so secluded that it avoided Nazi detection. Separated

The Star and the Scepter: A Diplomatic History of Israel

By
Emmanuel Navon
Review by
Rabbi A. James Rudin
Jewish diplomacy began in biblical times, when Abraham negotiated with King Abimelech over possession of precious wells in an arid land. In order to protect their vulnerable communities and ensure Jewish continuity, generations of Jewish leaders have developed effective negotiation strategies in dealing with powerful kings, emperors, sultans, popes, dictators

Eli’s Promise

By
Ronald H. Balson
Review by
Marcia R. Rudin
The year is 1939. With the horrors of the Holocaust approaching, Eli Rosen, his wife Esther, and their 5-year-old son Izaak are trapped in Lublin, Poland. In 1946, Eli and Izaak are living in a Displaced Persons camp in post-war Germany as Eli searches for his missing wife and attempts

Florence Adler Swims Forever

By
Florence Adler Swims Forever
Review by
Helene Cohen Bludman
Protecting children from harmful news is a natural parental instinct, but matriarch Esther Adler goes to extremes in Florence Adler Swims Forever, a novel based on a real-life incident in author Rachel Beansland’s family. In 1934, Atlantic City, N.J., was a business community on the rise, supported by the vacation

Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg

By
Francine Hirsch
Review by
Rabbi A. James Rudin
The four power International Military Tribunal (IMT) took place in Nuremberg, Germany between November 1945 and October 1946. Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union joined the United States in bringing 24 Nazi leaders to justice after the end of World War II. Three U.S. accounts – Judgment at Nuremberg

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