Going into the fall holiday season, we make lists both material—seats, apples, honey, sukkah—and spiritual—forgiveness asked for and given, resolutions for improvement and growth, an accounting of where we have been and where we hope to go.
Here at the Jewish Review of Books, we think about where we have been by paging through the stack of the 34 quarterly issues we’ve published to date, along with our growing archive of Web-only articles. We’ve selected 10 favorites that follow the arc of the fall holidays, from Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to Sukkot and Simchat Torah, and created an ebook from them.
We begin with “Notice Posted on the Door of the Kelm Talmud Torah Before the High Holidays,” by the great 19th-century moralist Simcha Zissel Ziv, and end with Ilana Kurshan’s thoughtful review of Shai Held’s recent Torah commentary. In between you’ll find Noah Millman’s eye-opening explanation of what Shakespeare’s King Lear can teach us about the love between Abraham and Isaac, architect Shari Saiman’s essay on a collection of unique structures that reimagine what the festival of booths could look like, Allan Nadler’s ruminations on the surprising links between Leonard Cohen and the reemergence of Old World cantorial art, and half a dozen other pieces by leading scholars and thinkers.
Rereading these articles has helped us get ready for the holidays, and we hope that you will enjoy (and reenjoy) them too.
Best wishes for a sweet new year,
What happens when the hidden is revealed? Reading Megillat Esther alongside one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays” shows that question to be at the heart of Purim’s paradox.
Just as soldiers in the IDF have no choice but to eat kosher food, the Jewish state makes decisions as to the nature of its consecrated sites: Jewish decisions.
After more ugly clashes at the Western Wall, two Israeli political scientists make a radical proposal.
Michael Weingrad discusses how two of the most highly praised novels of 2018, Dara Horn’s Eternal Life and Sarah Perry’s Melmoth, feature a Jewish woman born in ancient Judea who still walks the earth today.