Purim at JRB

This Purim at the Jewish Review of Books, we’re turning things a little upside down. A Jewish review of books? Why stop there? We’ve collected three fun and funny reviews on the most pressing topics of our time:

Jewish Review of Five Brooks

Brad Mislow

1. Mel Brooks: five stars. Make that five six-pointed stars. You think I’m foolish enough to give this man a bad review? Especially a bad Jewish review? Of all those named Brooks, Mel is the one who wears the crown—and like he once said, “It’s good to be the king!” Fun fact: his real last name? Kaminsky.

2. Albert Brooks. Four stars. He gets one less star than Mel for not being Mel. But as famous Brooks go, you can’t do much better than Albert. His incredible film, Lost in America (1985) isn’t as well-known as it should be. A shandeh. Plus, he accidentally created reality TV in the late 1970s. Fun fact: his real last name? Einstein.

3. Brooks Brothers. I haven’t bought a suit in years and apparently neither have lots of other people because they went bankrupt. Still, they have “Brooks” in their name and therefore I can review them. America was a simpler time when men wore suits and social media didn’t exist. Sorry, I’m digressing. Brooks Brothers: one star. Fun fact: the company was started by Henry Sands Brooks, who never had to change his name due to fear of a once-prevalent anti-Jewish bias. Also, he wasn’t funny.

4. The Brooks Crater on the planet Mercury: A desolate place of vast emptiness and no Jews. So basically it’s North Dakota in space. I can understand having a star named after someone, but a crater? One star. Fun fact: craters have no fun facts.

5. The Brook Behind My House: One star. First of all, it doesn’t babble. Second, there are mosquitoes. Couldn’t it attract any other living thing? Frogs, water nymphs, nymphomaniacs? Now that I think about it, I’m describing a pond. And a lackluster one at that. The only true Jewish quality it has is receiving pieces of bread that represent my sins every Rosh Hashanah. So there you go. It’s a stagnant sin-filled pond that’s not even a brook. I take my one star back.

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Jewish Review of Dybbooks

By Dalia Wolfson

It is with devilish glee that The Jewish Review of Dybbooks summons up a call for its inaugural issue, tentatively scheduled for the dead of Winter 2024 (May we live to see the day!). We recognize that there will be numinous submissions vying for a spot at the editorial altar. In lieu of rejection, spurned entries will be charred to oblivion in a censer. Accepted pieces will undergo several rounds of developmental gilgulim until the Turabian tribunal deems them fit for print. 

The Lost and Found feature will be almost exclusively devoted to papers revived from our shemos bin. As we seek to diversify our scope, we are looking for reviewers of “How To Tame Your Red Cow” and other children’s literature that provides relief from mortality. 

Additionally, in light of Yiddish always dying, the JRD has commissioned a special supplement with a format appropriate for the ongoing discourse: a yizkor book-cum-festschrift, with a split table of contents categorizing essays under “Dead” and/or “Alive.” 

Merchandise, you ask? You got it! We are slowly expanding such offerings. To start: A cupping set that will help vi a toytn bankes, engraved with your choice of Fruma Sarah grimaces. And: to the children of the lucky scholar prepared to review recent work on Aramaic magic bowls, we will send a customized Klutz DIY kit for crafting of the same. 

Submissions accepted until October 30, lehavdil from the day after. 

P.S. For those concerned about the proliferation of dead souls, may we suggest Gogoling “avoiding tumah.” Kohanim have been doing it for centuries.

P.P.S. Please note that review copies will not be distributed; reviewers must already be in possession of—which is to say, possessed by—volumes in their own personal library. 

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Jewish Review of Nooks

Liza Schwartz Levine

Jewish couple seeks Long Island home with just-in-case hiding nook. Which will they choose?

Tired of sleeping in the living room while their sons got the single bedroom of their Forest Hills rental apartment, Abby and Craig Silverstein decided it was time to move to the suburbs, where bedrooms are plentiful, backyards exist, and you can even find a versatile nook where one can linger over breakfast or hide from violent antisemites.

“I’ve always wanted a cozy spot to savor my coffee,” said Abby, “Or to hunker down when the FBI helpfully tweets, ‘Someone in the area is trying to kill Jews. Good luck.'”

Contrary to the beliefs of their would-be murderers, neither Abby nor Craig is a lawyer or banker. They have a budget of $600,000 in this highly competitive market, so they won’t be able to hold out for high-end features popular in Europe like a secret door bookcase. 

The Options

Split level with cozy reading nook


Nestled in the corner of the den is a reading nook layered with floor pillows and enclosed by a breezy curtain just thick enough to provide a false sense of security as parents explain to their kids why Tot Shabbat is canceled. Sorry, someone drew a bad shape outside of shul, kind of like when you drew a self portrait on your wall, but much pointier and with a lot more time out. 

Ranch featuring breakfast nook with a view


Enclosed with diner-style booth seats, this nook provides some coverage should residents need to run from an active shooter at the nearby JCC. But the beautiful bay window means homeowners would need to take a cue from the Maccabees and have a cover story ready in case their challah French toast betrays them.

Fixer-upper colonial with staircase hideaway


Kids will love the Harry Potter vibes of this nook under the stairs, but adults may find it too reminiscent of an Israeli miklat or one of those small European synagogues trying too hard to blend in.

Which Did They Choose?

“We really liked the split level but we noticed a couple of tiki torches in a closet during the open house,” said Craig. “They probably didn’t want us to replace them.” Instead they decided to stretch their budget for the fixer upper and moved in three months ago. Craig and Abby are excited to embark on some renovation projects and their kids love the nook under the stairs. 

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Suggested Reading

A Comic Megillah?

A Comic Megillah?

Stuart Halpern

Megillat Esther has long balanced the comic and the graphic in its content and interpretations. A new Koren graphic novel takes the challenge a bit more literally.

“We Found Our Outrage”

“We Found Our Outrage”

Elliot Kaufman

On March 2, 2015, a handful of campus activists announced that Andrew Pessin was an anti-Palestinian bigot. “I feel unsafe,” wrote Lamiya Khandaker, the student chair of diversity and equity at Connecticut College.