New Books Network

Ezra Cappell and Jessica Lang, “Off the Derech: Leaving Orthodox Judaism” (SUNY Press, 2020)
Off the Derech: Leaving Orthodox Judaism (SUNY Press, 2020), edited by Ezra Cappell and Jessica Lang, combines powerful first-person accounts with incisive scholarly analysis to understand the phenomenon of ultra-Orthodox Jews who leave their insular communities and venture into the wider world. In recent years, many formerly ultra-Orthodox Jews have... Read More
Alexander Kaye, “The Invention of Jewish Theocracy: The Struggle for Legal Authority in Modern Israel” (Oxford UP, 2020)
The tension between secular politics and religious fundamentalism is a problem shared by many modern states. This is certainly true of the State of Israel, where the religious-secular schism provokes conflict at every level of society. Driving this schism is the idea of the halakhic state, the demand by many... Read More
T. P. Kaplan and W. Gruner, “Resisting Persecution: Jews and Their Petitions during the Holocaust” (Berghahn, 2020)
In 20 years of studying the Holocaust, it didn’t occur to me that German officials might, when petitioned by German Jews or by Germans advocating for German Jews, change their minds.  But it turns out that, sometimes, they did. And even when they didn’t, petitioning local, regional or national officials... Read More
Assaf Gavron, “The Hilltop” (Scribner, 2015)
Mordantly funny and deeply moving, The Hilltop about life in a West Bank settlement has been hailed as “brilliant” (The New York Times Book Review) and “The Great Israeli Novel [in which] Gavron stakes his claim to be Israel’s Jonathan Franzen” (Tablet). On a rocky hilltop stands Ma’aleh Hermesh C,... Read More
Yehoshua November, “Two Worlds Exist” (Orison Books, 2016)
Yehoshua November’s second poetry collection, Two Worlds Exist (Orison Books), movingly examines the harmonies and dissonances involved in practicing an ancient religious tradition in contemporary America. November’s beautiful and profound meditations on work and family life, and the intersections of the sacred and the secular, invite the reader–regardless of background–to... Read More
Tamar Herzig, “A Convert’s Tale: Art, Crime, and Jewish Apostasy in Renaissance Italy” (Harvard UP, 2019)
On this episode of New Books in History, Jana Byars talks with Tamar Herzig, Professor of History at Tel Aviv University, the Director of Tel Aviv University’s Morris E Curiel Institute for European Studies, and as the Vice Chairperson of the Historical Society of Israel about her new book, A... Read More
Rafael Medoff, “The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and the Holocaust” (JPS, 2019)
Like so many Americans, American Jews supported President Roosevelt. They adored him. They believed in him. They idolized him. Perhaps they shouldn’t have. Based on recently discovered documents, The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and the Holocaust (Jewish Publication Society) reassesses the hows and... Read More
John Barton, “A History of the Bible: The Story of the World’s Most Influential Book” (Viking, 2019)
John Barton is no stranger to Holy Scripture. Having spent much of his academic career as a chaplain and professor of theology at the University of Oxford, his latest book is an attempt to shed light on one of the world’s most influential texts – the Bible. In A History... Read More
Adam Teller, “Rescue the Surviving Souls: The Great Jewish Refugee Crisis of the 17th Century” (Princeton UP, 2020)
A refugee crisis of huge proportions erupted as a result of the mid-seventeenth-century wars in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Tens of thousands of Jews fled their homes, or were captured and trafficked across Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Rescue the Surviving Souls is the first book to examine this... Read More
Natan M. Meir, “Stepchildren of the Shtetl” (Stanford UP, 2020)
Memoirs of Jewish life in the east European shtetl often recall the hekdesh (town poorhouse) and its residents: beggars, madmen and madwomen, disabled people, and poor orphans. Stepchildren of the Shtetl: The Destitute, Disabled, and Mad of Jewish Eastern Europe, 1800-1939 (Stanford University Press, 2020) tells the story of these... Read More