Off the Shelf

off the shelf | Tales of divorce: seven years of Talmud + new Tova Mirvis memoir

Divorcees: seeing life through Talmud + new Tova Mirvis memoir

This fall has seen the publication of two remarkable memoirs from writers reflecting on life transitions through the most Jewish of lenses. Tova Mirvis became a celebrated figure in the Jewish literary world with " The Ladies' Auxiliary," published in 1999 when she was in her early 20s.

Off the Shelf: Two Important New Books on the Hebrew Bible

Two new books anatomize heavy-duty Torah concepts - J.

I try to use this time of reaching the end of the annual Torah reading cycle, and beginning again, as a reminder to keep my relationship to our core book from stagnating. Lacking formidable interpretive skills myself, I'm highly dependent on the insights of others to keep myself engaged and growing.

Off the Shelf: New tales of Jewish families in Ireland, England, Middle East

New tales of Jewish families in Ireland, England, Middle East - J.

With much attention awarded to immigration-related issues in recent months, many of us have considered increasingly the Jewish immigrant experience in the United States, particularly since it reflects many of our families' histories. It was in that light that I enjoyed reading three recent novels that focus on the experience of Jewish immigrants in three ...

Off the Shelf: Summer reading

End-of-summer reading that's not too heavy, not too light - J.

For many, "summer reading" connotes light fiction. For me, it means the prospect of having a bit more time to read whatever it is that we want to read. Because everyone is different, I'll discuss a few new titles that may be possibilities for readers of varying tastes as the season winds down.

Off the Shelf: Four new Jewish books that serve as tour guides to old ones

Four new Jewish books are tour guides to old ones - J.

Amos Oz and Fania Oz-Salzberger wrote memorably in their book "Jews and Words" that "ours is not a bloodline, but a text line." But how many of us make the effort to claim our enormous inheritance of centuries of Jewish writing? Fortunately, four excellent recent books help us approach this shared text line.

Off the Shelf: Three new short story collections

Short-story collections: Three for the road or the nightstand - J.

In transit, on a nightstand or kept close for stolen moments of leisure, collections of short fiction provide a perennial source of pleasure. These three anthologies, which mark their authors' debuts, remind us that short can offer incredible breadth. "The Worlds We Think We Know" contains 20 short works by Dalia Rosenfeld, who was raised ...

Off the Shelf: Three new novels on life in Israel

Three new novels - unusual takes on life in Israel - J.

The strength of Israel's literary scene became evident last month when two Israeli titles appeared among the 13 nominees for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize, the world's most prestigious award for literature translated into English. In tribute, I'd like to share a few new novels set in Israel.

Off the Shelf: Hebrew, Esperanto have amazing stories to tell

Hebrew, Esperanto have some amazing stories to tell

In 1957, Noam Chomsky's father, William, published " Hebrew: The Eternal Language," but in the five decades since then, we haven't had a similar effort in English to create a concise history of the Hebrew language. Until now.

Off the Shelf: Authors Offer Differing Perspectives on the History of Israel

Authors offer differing perspectives on the history of Israel

The National Jewish Book Awards were announced last month, and the winner of the Book of the Year award was Rabbi Daniel Gordis' " Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn." Gordis, who made aliyah in 1998, has gravitated from writing on Jewish thought to writing mostly about Israel.

Off the Shelf: Striking Yiddish stories rescued from oblivion

Striking stories help rescue Yiddish and Ladino from oblivion

Silent movie fans like myself tend to be haunted by the sobering knowledge that the vast majority of films made during the silent era are permanently lost and will never be seen again.

off the shelf: Illuminating history through art and photography

off the shelf | Illuminating history through art and photography - J.

This year has seen the publication of some extraordinary books highlighting Jewish art and photography. With Hanukkah upon us, they may serve you well if you are seeking gift ideas. Photographer Roman Vishniac is remembered for recording Eastern European Jewry on the eve of annihilation.