Find out what the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil staff is read­ing this month!


Saba­ba by Yamin Levy is an inter­est­ing book of two sto­ries, both tak­ing place in Jerusalem, but cen­turies apart. One sto­ry focus­es on the Sec­ond Tem­ple era while the oth­er sto­ry takes place in the 21st century.


Meir Shalev’s Two She-Bears is a beau­ti­ful sto­ry set on a moshav in pre-state Israel, writ­ten by one of that coun­try’s most elo­quent writers.


Janis Cooke Newman’s A Mas­ter Plan for Res­cue is a beau­ti­ful sto­ry about an Amer­i­can boy whose world is turned upside down by loss. The world is at war and Jack, a 12-year-old Irish Amer­i­can, comes face-to-face with the hor­rors of Nazi Ger­many in his Man­hat­tan neigh­bor­hood. As Jack sets out to right the wrongs in his world, he learns that the sto­ries we hear, the sto­ries we tell, and the sto­ry we hope can come true can lead to true heroism.


I am find­ing Affin­i­ty Konar’s sec­ond nov­el, Mis­chling, both hard to pick up because of its hor­rif­ic sub­ject mat­ter — Josef Men­gele’s sadis­tic exper­i­ments on and tor­ture of iden­ti­cal twins in Auschwitz — and impos­si­ble to put down: Konar’s pow­er­ful, orig­i­nal prose pulls the read­er irre­sistibly into this night­mar­ish world.


As Close to Us as Breath­ing by Eliz­a­beth Polin­er delves into the com­plex rela­tion­ship of a Jew­ish fam­i­ly in the late 1940s. Set in a Jew­ish beach com­mu­ni­ty in Con­necti­cut, the book shows dai­ly life in the post-war time, and the soci­etal changes that follow.


I’ve been read­ing Toward a Hot Jew, a col­lec­tion of raw, inci­sive, and beau­ti­ful graph­ic essays by Miri­am Libic­ki. I’m fas­ci­nat­ed by the shift­ing rela­tion­ship between Jews, visu­al arts, and body image through­out the cen­turies — and comics are the per­fect medi­um for a con­tem­po­rary take on the topic.


Jacob Bacharach’s The Door­posts of Your House and on Your Gates sucked me in from Page 1. The nov­el pon­ders the fam­i­ly ten­sions between the fore­fa­thers of Gen­e­sis and the women among them, retold as a mod­ern-day sto­ry of a woman named Isabel fol­low­ing the col­lapse of an eight-year rela­tion­ship and sub­se­quent relo­ca­tion from New York City to Pitts­burgh, where she meets a young man named Isaac whose com­pli­cat­ed rela­tion­ship with his par­ents, Sarah and Abbie — an archi­tect turned igno­ble real estate devel­op­er — begins to leech into Isabel’s own life.

It’s been very inter­est­ing to read Bacharach’s nov­el along­side The House of the Moth­er: The Social Roles of Mater­nal King in Bib­li­cal Hebrew Nar­ra­tive and Poet­ry by Cyn­thia R. Chap­man, who chal­lenges schol­ars to recon­sid­er the tra­di­tion­al aca­d­e­m­ic and rab­bini­cal con­structs of patri­lin­eal social geneal­o­gy between and among the Bib­li­cal dynas­ties in favor of a greater appre­ci­a­tion for the mater­nal influ­ences on house struc­ture and polit­i­cal divi­sions in each generation.

And speak­ing of mater­nal influ­ences, I also just fin­ished a re-read of Mamaleh Knows Best: What Jew­ish Moth­ers Do to Raise Suc­cess­ful, Cre­ative, Empa­thet­ic, Inde­pen­dent Chil­dren Mar­jorie Ingall, in antic­i­pa­tion of the talk she’s giv­ing at the Jew­ish Ortho­dox Fem­i­nist Alliance (JOFA) Con­fer­ence next month. I hope to see plen­ty of Jew­ish Book Council’s read­ers there!


Arman­do Lucas Correa’s The Ger­man Girl is a great read! The sto­ry spans 70 years, begin­ning with the nar­ra­tive of an eleven-year-old girl named Han­nah in Nazi-occu­pied Berlin. The nov­el fol­lows Han­nah and her fam­i­ly on the S.S. St. Louis and into Cuba, togeth­er with the sto­ry of anoth­er girl her age in present-day New York, and sheds light on the life of the Jew­ish refugees aboard the St. Louis. It is a very time­ly sto­ry, espe­cial­ly with the recent changes in our access to Cuba.

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