Lincoln and the Jews: A History


By Jonathan D. Sarna and Benjamin Shapell Thomas Dunne Books, 272 pages A great coffee-table book about Jewish history, let alone American Jewish history, doesn’t come around in a great while. All the more so when the topic is as obscure as the confluence between Jewish interests and the actions of the 16th president. So… Read More

Walking the Bible By Bruce Feiler William Morrow, 451 pages


For many, journalist and serial traveler Bruce Feiler’s “Walking the Bible” either opened up a new world of biblical appreciation or provided the already inspired with the type of depth — what we in the writing professions call “color” — that those who had never been privileged to walk in the Torah’s footsteps lacked. That… Read More

A Replacement Life By Boris Fishman Harper Perennial, 352 pages


In this charming novel, newly out in trade paperback, would-be writer Slava Gelman, stuck in a low-level, clerk-like job at a prestigious magazine, stumbles into an outlet for his creative desires. He invents biographies to help his grandfather and the old man’s Soviet-émigré acquaintances qualify for German compensation payments — whether they deserve any or,… Read More

Pepper, Silk & Ivory By Marvin Tokayer and Ellen Rodman, Ph.D. Gefen Publishing House, 300 pages


The history and culture of  European Jewry is widely known, but many people are unfamiliar with the Jews of Asia and the contributions that Jews made in Asian countries.  For example, small pockets of Jewish communities peacefully existed in China over the last several centuries, and even today, there are active Jewish synagogues in India…. Read More

City of Cards By Joel Sacks FriesenPress, 384 pages


Joel Sacks has been writing for a long time, but last fall, his first published novel, “City of Cards,” was released. The book follows the stories of three MIT students who meet in an economics class in 1992. Although they don’t meet up again until more than a decade later, their lives become intertwined as… Read More

Alex’s Wake: A Voyage of Betrayal and a Journey of Remembrance By Martin Goldsmith Da Capo Press, 352 pages


Best known as a popular radio host on Sirius XM’s Symphony Hall channel, Martin Goldsmith has a deeper and darker tie to music. As the son of the famed German musical couple of flutist Gunther Goldschmidt and violinist Rosemarie Gumpert Goldschmidt, Goldsmith has highly personal ties to classical music and defines the genre as “an… Read More

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


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


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


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


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