Posted by Nat Bernstein
The Jewish Book Council webteam is launching a weekly recap of highlights from each week’s online content on www.jewishbookcouncil.org. Worried you might have missed something this week? Be sure to check our featured reviews page and scroll through The ProsenPeople blog!
Following up last week’s review of Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History, this week we published the Jewish Book Council’s interview with Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s newest biographer:
The Rebbe might well be the most well-known rabbi since Maimonides. I can think of no other rabbi who is as familiar to Jews in Israel, the U.S., the former Soviet Union, and France, the four most populous Jewish communities in the world today. So it certainly seemed that that this was a man whose life deserved to be studied in depth.
If you’d like to read about more seminal Jewish leaders, check out The Founding Fathers of Zionism, five essays by historian Benzion Netanyahu on Pinsker, Herzl, Nordau, Zangwill, and Jabotinsky—the great modern Jewish thinkers of their time.
Benzion Netanyahu’s historical examination of the original Zionists is replete with stories that detail the proverbial forks in the road when his subjects were faced with decisions that not only shaped their lives but dictated the future of the Jewish state and influences our future as Jews.
Netanyahu is a historian and his writing takes an academic approach, but what about when history and fiction meet? Pam Jenoff guest blogged as a Visiting Scribe on The ProsenPeople about how her career as a novelist began out of her experience working as a Foreign Service Officer at the United States Consulate in Krakow Poland—just after the Iron Curtain fell. She addresses the larger issues facing Holocaust fiction writers, questioning whether we should be writing stories set during the Holocaust at all.
I’ve written several novels set during the war now and it doesn’t get any easier. But I try to approach all of it with respect and dignity and I think readers respond to that. To me, each book is a love song to Jewish Poland, and the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe.
Writing about a particular moment in history is never easy. In the past week, we’ve been through our own moment of inexpressible horror and tragedy, for which we continue to struggle to find words. Joshua Fattal’s essay on Remembering Hebrew School in Iranian Prison out of The ProsenPeople archives was an uplifting read in the midst of the anxiety and anguish for the safety of American and international journalists, volunteers, and peacekeepers in the Middle East over the past handful of days alone.
In cell fifty-four in Evin Prison, Tehran, I saw a sliver of the sky through the glass window and the two sets of metal bars. From its position and size, I deduced that it was waning and that it’d be a new moon in a few days. It was September and I believed that the coming new moon signified Rosh Hashanah.Our hearts weigh heavy from events at home this week, as well. As Thursday marked the anniversary of both the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the heinous torture and murder of Emmett Till, the Jewish Book Council reissued its reading list on Justice, Civil Rights, and Race Relations as tensions and violence continue in Ferguson, MO and throughout the country.