The Danger of a Society without Religion
In The Strange Death of Europe, Douglas Murray argues that the continent is committing suicide—in part because of the decline of religion and its replacement by a public dogma of human rights completely detached from theology. A very different book, Yuval Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind, likewise acknowledges the Judeo-Christian roots of liberal democracy, while putting on display its author’s contempt for religion. Discussing both books, Jonathan Sacks notes that Harari in fact demonstrates precisely the dangers of secularism against which Murray warns.
The Afterlife of Rabbi Akiva
By Jewish Lives (Sponsored) for Tablet Magazine
An excerpt from Barry W. Holtz’s new biography of the 1st-century sage of the Talmud
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Yale University Press and its Jewish Lives series.
To die saying the Shema, to fight against attempts to abrogate the study of Torah, to fulfill your mission as teacher even at the point of death—these are legacies handed down through the powerful narrative of Akiva’s last moments. But Akiva’s afterlife—that is, his place in the consciousness of the Jewish people—goes beyond his tragic death. He has lived on as the hero figure of rabbinic Judaism in many ways.
THE ORPHAN’S TALE BY PAM JENOFF
Jewish Book Council
A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival
Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.
Holocaust Survivor Portraits and Notes in an Emotional Photo Book
BY ILANA SICHEL for Jewniverse
A handsome older gentleman stands softly illuminated by the rain-splattered window behind him, a small, satisfied smile gently curling his lips. The sentence “My name is Izrael Nathan Melamed, not Adam Adams” is scrawled on the facing page, in his early 20th-century European handwriting.
A glamorous woman in black with a cocked straw hat crosses her ankles beneath a gilded mirror. “In my heart I always felt my parents would survive,” she wrote.
Jerzy: A Novel by Jerome Charyn
Jewish Book Council
Jerzy Kosinski was a great enigma of post-World War II literature. When he exploded onto the American literary scene in 1965 with his best-selling novel The Painted Bird, he was revered as a Holocaust survivor and refugee from the world hidden behind the Soviet Iron Curtain. He won major literary awards, befriended actor Peter Sellers (who appeared in the screen adaptation of his novel Being There), and was a guest on talk shows and at the Oscars. But soon the facade began to crack, and behind the public persona emerged a ruthless social climber, sexual libertine, and pathological liar who may have plagiarized his greatest works.