The Good at Heart by Ursula Werner
Jewish Book Council
Based on the author’s discoveries about her great-grandfather, this stunning debut novel takes place over three days when World War II comes to the doorstep of an ordinary German family living in an idyllic, rural village near the Swiss border.
When World War II breaks out, Edith and Oskar Eberhardt move their family—their daughter, Marina; son-in-law, Franz; and their granddaughters—out of Berlin and into a small house in the quiet town of Blumental, near Switzerland. A member of Hitler’s cabinet, Oskar is gone most of the time, and Franz begins fighting in the war, so the women of the house are left to their quiet lives in the picturesque village.
Recommended Passover Reading
PASSOVER SURVIVAL KIT Shimon Apisdorf
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.
For more great Passover ideas, check out our Passover Resource Kit.
A Rebbe for Our Time
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.
Rejoicing on Purim with a Jewish Novel
Prof. Lawrence M. Wills from TheTorah.com
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. 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.
Learn more about Purim with our Purim Resource Kit.
On Turpentine Lane
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…