Recommended Passover Reading

Posted on March 20th, 2017



Passover…the season of matzah, maror and minding the minutes until you can get away from your family. Not anymore! Shimon Apisdorf’s fantastic Passover Survival Kit is the perfect solution for bringing meaning and movement to every Seder table.

Shimon Apisdorf draws his readers in with a light, conversational style to his writing: not lecturing to his readers, but rather holding a friendly dialogue with them.

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For more great Passover ideas, check out our Passover Resource Kit.

A Rebbe for Our Time

Posted on March 13th, 2017
By Liel Leibovitz for Tablet

A new book reminds us why Menachem Schneerson’s genius for community is more vital today than ever

My study, where I spend most of my days reading, moping, and constructing elaborate schemes designed to ward off the faintest threat of productivity, is a purgatory of piled-up objects. It’s the sort of place that would make Marie Kondo weep, especially if she spotted her lovely anti-clutter manifesto jammed in between three identical copies of the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America, a small Stonehenge of lifeless iPhones, and official Richard Nixon 1972 campaign memorabilia. None of this stuff is random, though: Each huddled tchotchke is either a souvenir from where I’ve been or a signpost pointing somewhere I’d like to go. And above it all, looking down at me like a bemused elder on an errant boy, is a large black-and-white photograph of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe.

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Rejoicing on Purim with a Jewish Novel

Posted on March 6th, 2017
Prof. Lawrence M. Wills from


The Techniques and Motifs of the Book of Esther

The Book of Esther and the Holiday of Purim: What came first?


Festivals of revelry and release such as Purim are common cross-culturally.[1]   Yet, each such festival contains unique elements—in the case of Purim, this includes reading the Book of Esther.

Megillat Esther is both a book in its own right as well as the pretext for the raucous Purim festival.  But what is the origin and genre of the text? Was it composed as a reading for the festival, or did it originate separately as a pleasant story, influenced by international literary developments, and only later adapted for the holiday? It is difficult to say. Even if it was composed for the festival, it should be understood within the background of the Jewish and non-Jewish novellas of the Persian and Greek periods.

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Learn more about Purim with our Purim Resource Kit.

On Turpentine Lane

Posted on February 27th, 2017

On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman 

Review by Nat Bernstein for Jewish Book Council    

It’s been kind of a topsy-turvy week, so the image of a quaint suburban house ripped from the earth and spun like Dorothy Gale’s twister-borne home feels about right at the moment.

As bizarrely inviting as the picture is, it’s the details that make this book cover special: the flying SOLD sign, the sensible brown shoe flying off the foot one of the three figures rattling around inside the suspended house, the sheet of paper blown against the leg of another, the plaid lining of the open trench coat… The detail of the illustrations translates the care with which Elinor Lipman has crafted the Jewish family at the heart of her latest novel. On Turpentine Lane follows private school director of stewardship Faith Frankel as she struggles with an absent fiancée, a cloying mother, an unfaithful father with illusions of artistic grandeur, and an officemate whose friendship might be growing a little too close…

Our Kind of Traitor

Posted on February 20th, 2017
By Amy Newman Smith for Jewish Review of Books


"I am not a fan of spy thrillers,” Uri Bar-Joseph said recently. “The only good spy novel author is John le Carré.” That gives readers fair warning not to expect exploding wristwatches and car chases from the Haifa University professor and former intelligence analyst’s latest book, The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel. Even the subtitle might be a bit inflated, he said, since there’s no way of really knowing what the outcome of the Yom Kippur War would have been without the spy code-named The Angel. What Bar-Joseph does offer is a comprehensive account of how a well-placed Egyptian became Israel’s most valuable intelligence asset, and how disagreements between Israeli spymasters over the information he provided ultimately led to his death.

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