Book Reviews

How God Works: The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion

By
David DeSteno
Review by
Rabbi A. James Rudin
In How God Works: The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion (Simon & Schuster), Northeastern University Psychology professor David DeSteno asserts that even skeptics, not just believers, can draw strength and comfort from religion in their personal lives. "Science and religion," he writes, "have often been at odds. But if

The Forgiveness Tour: How to Find the Perfect Apology

By
Susan Shapiro
Review by
Helene Cohen Bludman
Shocked by what she perceived as an egregious betrayal by her longtime psychotherapist, Susan Shapiro embarks on a quest for meaning in her part memoir, part self-help guide, The Forgiveness Tour (Skyhorse Publishing).

Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Shooting and the Soul of a Neighborhood

By
Mark Oppenheimer
Review by
Rabbi A. James Rudin
Shabbat morning, October 27, 2018 marked the day of deadliest antisemitic attack in American history at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mark Oppenheimer’s Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Shooting and the Soul of a Neighborhood (Knopf), focuses not on the killer, but on the reactions of Pittsburghers in general, and especially the responses of Squirrel Hill residents.

Elie Wiesel: Humanist Messenger For Peace

By
Alan L. Berger
Review by
Rabbi A. James Rudin
Elie Wiesel is generally known as a famous Holocaust survivor and author of the book Night. In his succinct new biography, Elie Wiesel: Humanist Messenger For Peace (Routledge), Professor Alan L. Berger brilliantly portrays his former teacher and Nobel Peace Prize winner as a global champion of universal human rights who had an extraordinary impact on contemporary American political, religious, and cultural life.

The Last Kings of Shanghai: The Rival Jewish Dynasties That Helped Create Modern China

By
Jonathan Kaufman
Review by
Rabbi A. James Rudin
In 2010, during Supreme Court Justice Elana Kagan’s tense Senate confirmation hearing, Lindsay Graham (R-SC), who supported her nomination, jokingly asked President Barack Obama’s nominee what she did on Christmas Day. It was a strange, even bizarre question because it had nothing to do with her judicial qualifications. But Kagan’s

I Want You to Know We’re Still Here: a Post-Holocaust Memoir

By
Esther Safran Foer
Review by
Helene Cohen Bludman
If the author’s name sounds familiar, it should. Esther Safran Foer’s son, Jonathan, is the author of the best-selling novel, Everything is Illuminated, a fictionalized story of the pre-Holocaust shtetl called Trochenbrod and his travels to Ukraine to search for the woman who saved his grandfather’s life. I In I

Review of the New 5-Volume Steinsaltz Collection

By
Edited by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
Review by
Jack Riemer
A review of the New 5-Volume Steinsaltz Collection: A Concise Guide to the Torah, A Concise Guide to Halakhah, A Concise Guide to Mahshavah, A Concise Guide to the Sages THE SAGES, and A Reference Guide to the Talmud.

Layers: Personal Narratives of Struggle, Resilience, and Growth from Jewish Women

By
Shira Lankin Sheps, Foreword by Rachel Hercman
Review by
Marcia R. Rudin
In 2015, Shira Lankin Sheps, a clinically trained therapist, blogged about her long struggle with chronic pain. The overwhelming number of positive responses from other women prompted her to create an online magazine called The Layers Project. The success of this attempt to allow women to talk frankly about their

Philip Roth: A Counterlife

By
Ira Nadel
Review by
Helene Cohen Bludman
Philip Roth (1933-2018), one of the most prolific and acclaimed authors in the history of American literature. He is the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Man Booker International Prize. In his complicated private life, Roth was often an unhappy man. Ira Nadel’s comprehensive biography