We read the book of Jonah as the Haftorah during the Yom Kippur Minchah service. This is most appropriate since it deals with repentance and we read it at a time when we are weary from fasting and, perhaps, less attentive to the message of the day. Rabbis Kravitz and Olitzky, both affiliated with the Reform movement, bring readers a new look at this reluctant prophet. Using ancient texts, medieval commentaries, and modern scholarship, the authors analyze the book verse by verse. They also comment on the major themes of the book: false prophets, repentance, change, growth, justice, and mercy. With these themes as a basis, the authors engage the reader by asking him or her to examine the nature of God and human nature. They then note the importance of teshuvah and the fact that it requires people to take responsibility for their own lives and examine the choices they have made. Ending on a hopeful note, they stress that God is merciful and wants people to find the right path and follow it. This small book contains much wisdom. It will be useful for Torah study groups and synagogue libraries.
Barbara M. Bibel is a librarian at the Oakland Public Library in Oakland, CA; and at Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA.