SUGGESTED READING-- JEWISH THEMES OR CHARACTERS Prepared for the
Fauquier Jewish Congregation,by a dedicated member of the Fauquier Jewish Congregation Board. Listed here are fiction
and non-fiction books for adults, teens, and children. The annotations are based on those in library selection tools. Most
of the book sources are available at the Fauquier Library along with many booklists on various reading interests. There are
also websites providing Jewish bibliography. A selection of the books and websites is listed on the last page of this list.
The list is not meant to be exhaustive, and omits many excellent titles. Each included title has been recommended
by some review source. The user may find it valuable to pursue his or her interests through exploring the sources on the last
page. Every selection for children or teens, has either received an award for its quality, has been read by me in my role
as a children’s librarian, or both. It should be noted that there will be crossover in ability and/or interest,
among the several categories for the young.
Crombie, Deborah. Where
Memories Lie. One of a mystery series, this is the only one with a Jewish theme. Deals with the repercussions of events
which took place during the Holocaust era. Erika Rosenthal escaped to London, where she has lived with secrets until a long-lost
piece of jewelry appears in an auction. Chapters are headed with quotes from books about Jews in England.
Anita. The Red Tent.Recreates the life of Dinah, daughter of Leah and Jacob. Depicts the life of women in Dinah’s
Fast, Howard. The Outsider.Young David returns from World War II, marries and becomes a rabbi in
a town with only 14 Jews. World events are reflected in his story
Halter, Marek. Book of Abraham.Fictional
tracing of the author’s lineage from an Abraham of Roman times, to his own grandfather’s death in the Warsaw ghetto.
Heller, Joseph. Good as Gold Dr. Gold, Jewish professor of English Literature, becomes a high Washington
official, and meets the Protestant daughter of an anti- Semitic career diplomat.
Kaminsky, Stuart. Lieberman’s
choice. Lieberman, an aging Jewish cop in Chcago, can cope on the street but not always in his own domestic life.
Faye. Day of Atonement This with others in the series, follows Rina Lazarus and Peter Decker in courtship,
marriage and parenthood, depicting her Orthodoxy and his new-found Judaism, set against compelling mystery plots.
Kemelman, Harry. Friday the Rabbi Slept Late.This is the first of a series in which mild-mannered Rabbi Small is
caught up in mysterious events in his New England town and abroad.
Lipman, Eleanor. The Inn at Lake Devine
Natalie Marx is 13 in 1962. The Inn is suggesting Jewish guests would be happier elsewhere. Natalie takes action, wangles
an invitation from a friend. This has repercussions years later.
Malamud, Bernard. The Fixer. A
young boy in Czarist Russia is accused of killing a Christian boy. Despite the suffering he endures, he maintains his innocence
throughout. Based on a true incident.
Michener, James. The Source. Uses archaeological artifacts
found in Israel to tell the long story of that land and its people. Where facts are scarce, the author fills in with his interpretations.
Ozick, Cynthia. Heir to the Glimmering World. The Mitwissers, German Jews, arrive in the US in 1933.
They hire a young orphan as help. She is the narrator of this portrayal of a ramshackle household.
Crescent City. In the South during the Civil War, Miriam Raphael and her older brother David are living
in New Orleans. David is committed to freeing slaves; Miriam is enduring a difficult marriage.
Potok, Chaim. The
Chosen Danny and Reuven, two Brooklyn boys, both Orthodox but one Hasidic, meet and become friends. Their
saga continues in The Promise.
Powers, Richard. Time of our Singing.
Follows the mixed-race family of German-Jewish David Strom and black Delia Daley, from 1939 into the 1990’s.
Ragen, Naomi. Jephte’s Daughter. Story of a beautiful young Orthodox woman torn between
a promise made by, and to, her father, and the love for a man outside her world...Other titiles by this author.
Leo (Leonard Ross) The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N. Mr. K*A*P*L*A*N (this is how he signs his work,
and in colors as well), is a student at night school, in order to learn English. He admits to “making som mistakes,
netcheral”. His zany take on the language is delightful to read about, though very frustrating for poor Mr. Parkhill,
Rosten, Leo. The Joys of Yiddish. A dictionary, a history, a storytelling--and
just plain fun. Still in print 40 years after its first appearance.
Roth, Henry. Call it Sleep.
The reader is taken inside the mind of a young boy grappling with adulthood intellectually, emotionally and psychologically.
Singer, Isaac Bashevis. Collected Stories. This collection includes Gimpel the Fool, Spinoza
of Market Street and many other examples of the cultural and literary richness for which this master of the short story is
Aber, Ita. The Art of Judaic Needlework. Ita Aber
is a very unusual artist. Her work is in almost every major Jewish museum throughout the world. She is a master of the fabric
arts, which is, by its very nature, an interdisciplinary field.
Bank, Richard, and Julie Gutin. The Everything
Jewish History and Heritage Book. A quick and easy reference source to answer children’s, friends’
or our own, questions such as,Why no leather shoes on Yom Kippur? Does one have to dwell in a sukkah if there are killer bees
around? A timeline of Jewish history is included.
Cahill, Thomas. The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert
Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels Traces Western cultural heritage back to ancient Israel.
Chronicles: News of the Past Covers the period from Abraham’s times
to the First Zionist Congress. Written as though contemporary newspaper articles..Received the Jerusalem Seal of Quality.
Dayan, Yael. My Father, His Daughter. A biography of Moshe Dayan, in which the reader may learn
that heroes are not always that to their families. Though Yael was his favorite, neither she nor her two brothers were whole-heartedly
fond or respectful of their father.
Entine, Jon. Abraham’s Children. The history of
Jews is viewed in the light of recent DNA technology. DNA research clarifies understanding of the Diaspora. Several appendices
and thorough notes expand the narrative.
Ehrlich, Elizabeth. Miriam’s Kitchen. The author
had not found Judaism particularly relevant to her life, until she began learning to cook, from her mother-in-law, a Holocaust
survivor. She learns much more, and comes to value her heritage. Includes recipes.
Hallie, Philip. Lest Innocent
Blood Be Shed. The story of a small French village, in which the villagers and clergy saved thousands of
Jews during World War II, under the noses of a Nazi SS division. A film, Weapons of the Spirit, also tells this moving tale.
Jacobs, A.J. The Year of Living Biblically. The author chronicles his efforts to follow every
Biblical precept literally. The reader is impressed by his nerve in living thus in the modern age,--and much amused by his
way of describing it.
Lieberman, Leo, and A. Beringause,ed. Classics of Jewish Literature.
A collection including poetry, drama, folklore, fiction and non-fiction, beginning with excerpts from the Bible.
Nathan, Joan. Jewish Cooking in America .More than a cookbook, this provides anecdotes, quotes and
illustrations about Jewish food and life. The author has also written The Jewish Holiday Kitchen.
Marc. Thirteen and a Day. Examines the phenomenon of the American Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
Judea and Ruth Pearl. I am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl. Subtitle
describes this collection of quotes from a wide variety of persons.
Rockland, Mae. The Work of Our Hands.
Jewish needlecraft, history and how-to. Some designs appropriate for children. A later edition is The New Work of Our
Hands, under the name of Mae Rockland Tupa.
Sax, David. Save the Deli. In surveying the history
and geography of the deli, from New York through the U.S., the author finds Jewish community and identity.
PICTURE and EASY READ BOOKS
Cohen, Barbara. The Carp in the Bathtub. Leah asks, “Would
you like to eat gefilte fish, if the fish was a friend of yours?”
Hirsh, Marilyn. Potato Pancakes All
Around. Retelling of a traditional Hanukkah tale about the “right” recipe for latkes.
Lamstein, Sarah. Letter in the Wind. Based on a folktale. Drought in the village means no oil for Hanukkah
lamps. Hayim writes a letter to the Almighty, requesting some oil for the village celebration.
The Always Prayer Shawl. Adam and his family leave their shtetl in Russia to immigrate to America. Before
they go,Adam’s grandfather gives Adam the prayer shawl he received from his own grandfather--who in turn had received
it from HIS grandfather...
Polacco, Patricia. The Keeping Quilt. A homemade quilt ties
together the lives of four generations of an immigrant Jewish family, becoming a symbol of love and faith.
Doreen. The Secret Seder. During the Nazi occupation of France, a boy and his father attend a Seder hidden
in the mountains.
Spier, Peter. Noah’s Ark. Illustrations enhance and add detail to
the Biblical story.
Taback, Sims. Joseph Had a Little Overcoat. Story from a Yiddish
folk song. Illustrations hold clues to the Jewish nature of the tale; music included. Caldecott Medal winner.
Richard. Rachel’s Gift. Selma makes a special soup to attract Elijah to her home; was that poor
herring vendor really Elijah, and has he left a special treasure?
Wayland, April. New Year at the Pier: a Rosh
Hashanah Story. Izzy learns about Tashlich and compares it to cleaning out his toy closet. Received the 2010
Sydney Taylor Award, Younger Readers category.
The Truth about My Bat Mitzvah. After the death of her grandmother, non-religious Caroline is moved to
learn more about her mother’s Jewish ancestry.
Friedman, Robin. The Importance of Wings. Eighth-grader
Roxanne is experiencing the difficulties of being picked last for teams, not having Ma and Pa Ingalls as parents, and being
unable to style her hair “like everyone else’s”, in wings. The Israeli girl who moves in next door helps
with the hair style, and incidentally with other issues too. Received the 2010 Sydney Taylor Award, Older Readers category.
Hesse, Karen. Letters from Rifka. Based on the life of the author’s great-aunt. Rifka’s
letters chronicle her family’s flight from Russia and her own stay in Belgium after her family went on to America.
Kushner, Ellen. The Golden Dreydl. Sara receives a golden dreydl at her aunt’s party, and
is transported into a magic world of fools, sorcerers and sages.
Schwabach, Karen. Pickpocket’s Tale.
Molly, a 10-year-old orphan in 18th-century London, Making her living as a pickpocket, she is arrested and sent to America
to become an indentured servant. She is assigned to a Jewish family, and must learn their ways and traditions.
Uri. Travels of Benjamin of Tudela. A fictionalized account of 12th-century Benjamin’s travels
in Italy, Greece, Palestine, Persia, China, Egypt and Sicily.
Singer, Isaac Bashevis. The Fools of Chelm and
Their History. A humorous account of the events in the town of Chelm, “like every place else, only
worse”. Changes to the town never seem to improve matters.
Taylor, Sydney. All-of-a-Kind Family.
Story of five sisters and their parents; the year is 1912, the place the lower East Side. Rich in details of daily life,
the problems and the joys, and the relationships of the girls, who are between four and twelve in age.
Engle, Margarita. Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba This narrative
is told in the voices of several refugees and of some Cubans, and makes the history of the tensions of this era accessible.
Received the 2010 Sydney Taylor Award, Teen Readers category.
Lasky, Kathryn. The Night Journey.
Rachel hears stories from Nana Sashie about Nana’s life in old Russia, and about how the 9-year-old Sashie devised
a plan for her family’s escape from pogrom. Many awards.
Levine, Anna. Freefall. Aggie
Jacobs, an 18-year-old Israeli girl, tries out for an elite female combat unit in the Israeli army. Realities of Israeli military
life are seen through the eyes of this young woman.
Lowry, Lois. Number the Stars. Newbery
Award winner. During the Nazi occupation of Denmark, 10-year-old Annemarie must be brave as she shelters her Jewish friend.
Millman, M.C. Locked in Time. In an old Jewish community in rural Pennsylvania, the Rav
sells the chametz to Mr. Olsen. When the time comes to buy it back, Mr. Olsen is not to be found. The Rav and Rebbetzin try
to solve this disappearance, and in so doing, uncover a mystery 150 years old.
Reiss, Johanna. The Upstairs
Room. A Dutch Jewish girl describes 2 1/2 years in hiding in the house of a farmer during World War II. Story
continues in Journey Back.
Siegel, Deborah Spector. The Cross by Day, the Mezuzzah by Night. Isabel,
living in Seville in 1492, discovers she is a Marrano, a secret Jew, when an edict banishes all Jews. She is determined to
preserve her family and culture.
Spinelli, Jerry. Milkweed. In 1939 Warsaw, a boy is living on the
streets. He does not know his own background, and joins a group of orphaned Jewish boys. He becomes involved in smuggling
food into the ghetto; he soon begins to perceive what the future holds for its residents.
Zenatti, Valerie. A
Bottle in the Gaza Sea. The story of an Israeli girl and a Palestinian boy, keeping in touch by email and
Instant Messaging during the 2003 Intifada.
Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief. For mature teens.
A sad story of children trying to live a normal life in terrible times. The setting is World War II Germany; experiences of
the author’s grandmother may have inspired some of this troubling tale.
SOURCES In book form:A to Zoo Children’s Catalog Fiction Catalog
The above are available at most libraries, behind the desk or in Reference.
Syme, Rabbi Daniel, and Cindy Frenkel
Kanter. One Hundred Essential Books for Jewish Readers.Online:
Canadian Jewish Book Award, Koffler Centre
of the Arts www.kofflerarts.org
Koret Jewish Book Award, Koret Foundationwww.koretfoundation.org
National Jewish Book Awards, National Jewish Book Councilwww.jewishbookcouncil.org
Sidney Taylor Book Award, Assoc. of Jewish Libraieswww.jewishlibraries.org
Notable Children’s Books of Jewish Content, Assoc. of Jewish Librarieswww.jewishlibraries.org
Notable Books for Older Readers, Assoc. of Jewish Librarieswww.jewishlibraries.org
New Jewish Valuesfinder, Assoc. of Jewish Librarieswww.ajljewishvalues.org
These sources may lead to others and in themselves provide a wide range of books for all ages, abilities and interests.
Thanks to all those who supported this undertaking or who made suggestions for it.