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Reviews tagged Jewish

Why Study Talmud in the Twenty-first Century?: The Relevance of the Ancient Jewish Text to Our World

Lending a somewhat contrarian voice to this collection of essays extolling the virtues of Talmud study, the rabbi Dr. Pinchas Hayman takes umbrage at the question Paul Socken poses in the book’s title: “Why should the indescribable depth, beauty, and challenge of authentic Jewish literature require apologetic essays?” He concludes with his own “more relevant” and “far more difficult” question: “Who needs the twenty-first century if one learns Talmud?”

Eyes Wide Open

Viewing Eyes Wide Open is like watching a wrecking ball swing towards a beloved old building from afar; you can see the destructive aftermath coming, but are powerless to stop it. It is a gorgeously filmed demolition, filled with exquisite tenderness and emotion, but a demolition nonetheless. The story follows the love between two Orthodox Jews living in Jerusalem.


Sandy Bloomgarten is a writer you either envy, pity, or outright hate. In theory, she's an excellent reporter, but often, to pay the bills, she resorts to working for gossip rags like The Enquirer. Who of us in a bind hasn't resorted to similar means?

Off and Running

Considering the number of children in need of adoption—and the number of children who are actually adopted each year—it's surprising there aren't more adoption stories being told. Aside from The Locator, we've had especially limited access to stories about adopted children reaching out to their birth parents. The delicate, vulnerable position of someone sending a letter out into the world, waiting and hoping to hear back about where they come from, is still a bit of a mystery, and more than worthwhile.

Off and Running

Off and Running is a very non-traditional coming-of-age story told in a way that deftly conveys one young woman’s unique situation as well as more universal themes. Filmmaker Nicole Opper was afforded intimate access to her subjects, which enabled her to invite the viewer to take a sensitive and warm perspective as the events unfold. The film’s central subject, a high school track star named Avery Klein-Cloud, is honest and likable.

Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization

In Multidirectional Memory, Michael Rothberg offers an alternative to competitive memory, or the idea that the capacity to remember historical injustices is limited and that any attention to one injustice diminishes our capacity to memorialize another. Rothberg also disputes the idea that comparisons between atrocities erase differences between them and imply a false equivalence.

Living History: Anarchism in the Kibbutz Movement

“I am neutral on Israel,” I said as I helped lay out the first issue of a women’s newspaper one evening in the early seventies. “After all, I am not Jewish.” Like many critical of nationalism, I was silent. After all, comments on Israeli policy can be matches igniting discussions among friends and co-workers that end in bitterness, charges of anti-Semitism, or in the case of Jewish critics, of being “self-hating Jews.” Frankly, only the bombing of Lebanon in 2006 and the invasion of Gaza last winter pushed me into open criticism of Israeli policies and my first participation in protests.

German for Travelers : A Novel in 95 Lessons

Norah Labiner's third novel German for Travelers reads a lot more like poetry than prose. Each chapter, which is framed as a lesson, begins with a seemingly disconnected sentence translated into English from German, before jumping to a different time period, country, character, or all three.

The Hebrew Tutor of Bel-Air

The back copy for The Hebrew Tutor paints a picture that is enticing: Under threat of nuclear war and the gorgeous California sun, the two [Norman and Bayla] forge a tentative truce. They may not be learning Hebrew, but through the miracle of motorcycles and the epiphanies of the road, Bayla and Norman just might learn to shape their own destinies.

A World I Loved: The Story of an Arab Woman

Nostalgia is front and center in Wadad Makdisi Cortas’ atmospheric memoir of life in Beirut, a war-torn city once belonging to Syria and later, the capital of Lebanon. Born in 1909, Cortas died in 1979, but her impassioned account of a four-decade career as principal of the Ahliah School for Girls touches on themes that remained pertinent throughout the twentieth century—colonialism and the founding of Israel, among them. Cortas was fiercely committed to the education of girls and sought international examples to prod her students into imagining an array of possibilities for their lives.

Is the Holocaust Unique?: Perspectives on Comparative Genocide

In the third edition of this book, Alan Rosenbaum has collected a selection of brilliant, incendiary, and questionable essays addressing a sensitive yet much argued question. To quote Israel W.

Shalom India Housing Society

Shalom India Housing Society is an apartment complex formed in the wake of the shocking riots of 2002 by Erza, an Indian Bene Israel Jew and a contractor by profession. The Society is formed to allow Jews to maintain a separate identity in multi-religious India. The Bene Israel communities trace their descent to Jews who escaped persecution two thousand years ago and were shipwrecked in Alibaug in Mumbai. Since then they have made India their home.

Love Iranian-American Style

Finding love is never easy. But having to deal with what your family expects, especially when it contradicts the current society that you are a part of, makes it that much harder. Tanaz is an Iranian-American woman, who has pursued an education and is now a filmmaker. However, she is 26 years old and unmarried, which is unacceptable in her family’s eyes.

Fierce Attachments: A Memoir

Few books are so gripping that they change your perception of the world around you. Even fewer books make you see your intimate relationships in a whole new light. Because of its bold, honest insights about mothers, daughters and the growing up/growing away process, _Fierce Attachments _made me re-examine my relationship with my own mother.