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Summer Reading

Summer is the perfect time to take a break and lose yourself in a good book. What to read? We checked out the Jewish Book Council at www.jewishbookcouncil.org – and came away with an enticing list of books with Jewish content or Jewish themes – both fiction and nonfiction – that were published in 2020/2021. Enjoy!


Last Summer at the Golden Hotel

By Elyssa Friedland

In its heyday, The Golden Hotel was the crown jewel of the Catskills vacation scene. For more than sixty years, the Goldman and Weingold families – best friends and business partners – have presided over this glamorous resort. But the Catskills are not what they used to be – and neither is the relationship between the two families. As the resort begins to fall apart, a tempting offer to sell forces the two families together to make a heart-wrenching decision. Can they save their beloved Golden or is it too late?


The Hidden Palace

By Helene Wecker

Chava is a golem, a woman made of clay, who can hear the thoughts and longings of those around her and feels compelled by her nature to help them. Ahmad is a jinni, a restless creature of fire, once free to roam the desert but now imprisoned in the shape of a man. Fearing they’ll be exposed as monsters, these magical beings hide their true selves and try to pass as human – just two more immigrants in the bustling world of 1900s Manhattan.


The Rabbi Who Prayed with Fire

By Rachel Sharona Lewis

Congregation Beth Abraham expected their newest rabbi to “sing some songs and go to an environmental rally.” But Vivian Green wants her flock to engage meaningfully with their city-special mayoral elections, interfaith breakfasts and fights for affordable housing. Also, she would like just one night off to go dancing in the leather boots that make her look like her finest gay self. When Beth Abraham bursts into flames, fingers get pointed, and everyone’s biases rise to the surface. It turns out that wasn’t the only fire burning in town.


Red Rock Baby Candy

By Shira Spector 

In this graphic memoir, Shira Spector paints a vivid portrait of 10 years of her life – her struggle to get pregnant, the emotional turmoil of her father’s cancer diagnosis and eventual death, and her recollections of past relationships. Red Rock Baby Candy begins in subtle, tonal shades of black ink, introducing color slowly until it explodes into a glorious full color palette. The characters begin to bloom and to live life fully, resurrecting the dead in order to map the geography among infertility, sexuality, choice, and mortality. 


The Jewish Body: A History

By Robert Jütte, Elizabeth Bredeck (Translator)

An encyclopedic survey of the Jewish body as it has existed and imagined from biblical times to the present, often for anti-Jewish purposes, examining the techniques for caring for the body that Jews acquire in childhood from parents and authority figures and how these have changed over the course of a more than 2000-year history, most of it spent in exile. From consideration of traditional body stereotypes, such as the so-called Jewish nose, to matters of gender and sexuality, The Jewish Body explores the historical foundations of the human physis in all its aspects


From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History

By Nancy Sinkoff

National Jewish Book Awards Winner 2020

The first comprehensive biography of Dawidowicz (1915-1990), a pioneer historian in the field that is now called Holocaust studies. Dawidowicz was a household name in the postwar years, not only because of her scholarship but also due to her political views. Dawidowicz was a youthful communist, became an FDR democrat midcentury, and later championed neoconservatism. Nancy Sinkoff argues that Dawidowicz’s rightward shift emerged out of living in prewar Poland, watching the Holocaust unfold from New York City, and working with displaced persons in postwar Germany. 


An Autism Casebook for Parents and Practitioners 1st Edition

By Shoshana Levin Fox

Drawing from the author’s extensive clinical experience, this autism casebook offers stimulating reflections and a fresh perspective on how we assess, diagnose, and ultimately treat young children thought to be autistic.


The Nesting Dolls: A Novel

By Alina Adams

The Nesting Dolls is about three generations of a Soviet Jewish family in 1930s Odessa, USSR, 1970s Odessa, USSR, and present day Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Three women struggle to survive through Stalin’s purges and the war against “cosmopolitism,” the Free Soviet Jewry/refusnik movement and the battle between roots and assimilation in America.


Beyond the Ghetto Gates: A Novel

By Michelle Cameron

When French troops occupy the Italian port city of Ancona, freeing the city’s Jews from their repressive ghetto, it unleashes a whirlwind of progressivism and brutal backlash as two very different cultures collide. Set during the turbulent days of Napoleon Bonaparte’s Italian campaign (1796–97), Beyond the Ghetto Gates is both a cautionary tale for our present moment, with its rising tide of anti-Semitism, and a story of hope – a reminder of a time in history when men and women of conflicting faiths were able to reconcile their prejudices in the face of a rapidly changing world.


Home is a Stranger

By Parnaz Foroutan

Unmoored by the death of her father and disenchanted by the American dream, Parnaz Foroutan leaves Los Angeles for Iran 19 years after her family fled the religious police state brought on by the Islamic theocracy. From the moment Parnaz steps off the plane in Tehran, she contends with a world she only partially understands. Struggling with her own identity in a culture that feels both foreign and familiar, she tries to find a place for herself between the American girl she is and the woman she hopes to become. 


Letters to Camondo

By Edmund de Waal

Letters to Camondo is a collection of imaginary letters from Edmund de Waal to Moise de Camondo, the Jewish banker and art collector who created a spectacular house in Paris, now the Musée Nissim de Camondo, filling it with the greatest private collection of French 18th century art. After de Waal, one of the world’s greatest ceramic artists, was invited to make an exhibition in the Camondo house, he began to write letters to Moise de Camondo, deeply personal reflections on assimilation, melancholy, family, art, the vicissitudes of history, and the value of memory. 


“100 Jewish Children’s Books for the Family Bookshelf”

The Association of Jewish Libraries, with support from the Jewish Grandparents Network, has created “100 Jewish Children’s Books for the Family Bookshelf,” a list of picture and middle grade books recommended for the bookshelves of Jewish children. The books on this list create a portrait of the Jewish world in real and substantive ways and provide wonderful opportunities for reading together. The full list can currently be found at: https://jewishlibraries.org/read-together/. Here are a few selections:

As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom 

By Richard Michelson. Illustrated by Raul Colón. Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner. Ages 6- 9


Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 

By Michelle Markel. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet.Sydney Taylor Notable Book. Ages 4-8.


JPS Illustrated Children’s Bible 

By Ellen Frankel. Illustrated by Avi Katz. Sydney Taylor Notable Book. Ages 5+.


I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark 

By Debbie Levy. Illustrated by Eizabeth Baddeley. Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner. Ages 4-8. 


The Six-Day Hero 

By Tammar Stein. Sydney Taylor Honor Book. Ages 9-13.


Give Dad the Gift of “Jewish Lives”

Jewish Lives, a series of biographies designed to explore the many facets of Jewish identity, has put together The Father’s Day Collection. The collection includes the biographies of three varied Jewish personalities sure to satisfy Dad’s summer reading interests: 

Hank Greenberg: The Hero Who Didn’t Want to Be One, by Mark Kurlansky; Houdini: The Elusive American by Adam Begley; and Bugsy Siegel: The Dark Side of the American Dream by Michael Shnayerson.

For more information, visit https://www.jewishlives.org/collections/fathersday

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