The Girl from Human Street: Ghosts of Memory in a Jewish Family By Roger Cohen Knopf, 320 pages

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Roger Cohen’s tribute to his mother is an interesting story of displacement and its damage to family history and traditions, and sometimes to one’s mental health. It also shows the sheltered, comfortable lives of many South African Jews, 40,000 of whom came from Lithuania between the 1880s and 1914. In South Africa, “even for a… Read More

Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind By Sarah Wildman

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As the last generation of Holocaust survivors ages and dies, efforts to capture their final, untold stories have abounded. But in her new book, “Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind,” Sarah Wildman has turned instead to the future, asking what it means bear witness in a world without Holocaust survivors. “Paper… Read More

A Guide to the Complex: Contemporary Halakhic Debates By Shlomo M. Brody

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One of the most beautiful aspects about Jewish life is its diversity — the tapestry of colors that make up how Jews around the world practice Jewish tradition and its laws. Yet, it is this very diversity that is contentious or often divisive and charged, especially when people begin to deliberate whose observance carries more… Read More

Herzl’s Vision: Theodor Herzl and the Foundation of the Jewish State By Shlomo Avineri

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It’s common knowledge that the trial of French Capt. Alfred Dreyfus led Viennese journalist Theodor Herzl to propose the idea of a Jewish nation. It’s also wrong, says Shlomo Avineri. In “Herzl’s Vision,” he writes: “There is in fact no evidence of this, not in Herzl’s voluminous diaries nor in the many articles he sent… Read More

The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men By Eric Lichtblau

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If you’re feeling chilly these winter nights, grab a copy of Eric Lichtblau’s new book and get your blood boiling. In the first half, Lichtblau describes how, as Jews still languished in DP camps, even some of the worst Nazis and collaborators began new lives in the United States — imported by the Army to… Read More

Marrying Out: Jewish Men, Intermarriage and Fatherhood By Keren McGinity

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After releasing her first book, “Still Jewish: A History of Women and Intermarriage in America,” in 2009, Keren McGinity, a research affiliate at the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, realized she needed to study men to truly understand the meaning and experience of Jewish intermarriage. Her second book,… Read More

Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel

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“David Ben-Gurion’s greatest years were between 1942 and 1953,” said Anita Shapira, author of the latest in Yale’s “Jewish Lives” series of short biographies. “It seems that his whole life was but a prelude to this period, when he manifested his extraordinary ability to foresee political developments, formulate the tools for responding to them and… Read More

Keeping Faith in Rabbis: A Community Conversation on Rabbinical Education

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Despite “wonderful” studies in seminary, says Rabbi Ellen Flax, “the sad truth is that my five years of rabbinical school did little to prepare me for what was to become the day-to-day work of my rabbinate.” That sentiment appears in various strengths among writers in this book of essays on education by rabbis (including the… Read More

Audacity

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By Melanie Crowder Philomel, 400 pages With an eye-catching title audacious in its simplicity, this beautifully written book succeeds in an equally audacious mission by pulling the reader into the world of Clara Lemlich. With each chapter of verse perfectly pieced together, the reader can truly feel the emotions Clara, a Russian Jewish immigrant who… Read More

Hitler’s First Victims: The Quest for Justice

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Stranger than fiction: In 1933, a Bavarian prosecutor won indictments against SS members for the murders of four prisoners at Dachau. “Hitler’s First Victims” is a short, fascinating, disturbing story of an honest man’s courage and of the treatment of Nazi Germany’s first concentration camp victims ó political prisoners shot or beaten to death for… Read More