Everyone loves trivia. Rabbi Ronald Isaacs’ latest book is a collection of facts, superstitions and lore related to Judaism. The book has several sections: holidays, medicine, unusual superstitions, Judaism and the occult, oddities of dreams and dream interpretation, fantastic Jewish beasts, unusual prayers and prayer oddities, Bible curiosities, amazing miracles, education, unusual “onlys,” and miscellaneous oddities. Perusing the text, readers will discover things such as the archeological discovery of a Hanukkiah shaped like a pointed star, a remedy for a fever, and a prayer for the eradication of bad dreams. These are fascinating, but they are merely listed with no background information to explain their context. Rabbi Isaacs has not included notes or a bibliography, so the sources of his information remain unknown to the reader. This makes the book marginally useful. The data is interesting, but the lack of sources makes further research difficult.
Barbara M. Bibel is a librarian at the Oakland Public Library in Oakland, CA; and at Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA.