Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
In honor of Jewish Book month, each ISJL Education Fellow submitted a list of his or her favorite Jewish authors for your enjoyment. Who knows, maybe one of theirs is your favorite, too!
Abby: Emma Lazarus often gets overlooked on lists of Jewish authors, but there is perhaps no better icon of the American immigrant experience with which we are so familiar from our history. Lazarus is most famous for her poem “The New Colossus,” part of which is inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty.
Ali: I have always been a fan of history, so for the moment I would have to say my favorite Jewish author is Alice Hoffman. Her books The Dovekeepers and The Marriage of Opposites are both wonderfully easy reads for a cold day.
Arielle: Michael Chabon writes using themes that sometimes have directly Jewish connections and other times are more reminiscent of secular literature. I especially enjoyed reading his 1995 novel, The Wonder Boys!
Becca: My favorite Jewish author is A.J. Jacobs, an author and human guinea pig who describes himself as being as Jewish as the Olive Garden is Italian. My two favorite books of his are The Year of Living Biblically, in which he describes spending a year living the Bible as literally as possible, and Drop Dead Healthy, his quest for bodily perfection. He is self-deprecating and sarcastic, and his books are guaranteed to teach you something while making you laugh.
Bethany: My favorite Jewish author is Dr. Seuss. He should not ride in the caboose. So dust off your shelf and put him to use!
Elias: Martin Buber was an Austrian-born Israeli Jewish philosopher best known for his philosophy of dialogue, a form of existentialism centered on the distinction between the “I-Thou” relationship and the “I-It” relationship. I love reading his brilliant writing!
Leah: During high school, I became familiar with Nora Ephron’s movies and decided to pick up a copy of her memoir, I Feel Bad About My Neck. I was immediately hooked on her books and columns. Her tone was casual, funny, honest, and Jewish and appeals to me now, almost 10 years later, as much as it did then.
Shira: Whenever I’m looking for a quick read, I turn to one of Etgar Keret’s short stories. Although this Israeli author’s stories may seem brief, they are packed with quirky and often surreal characters and glimpses of modern Israeli culture.
What are some of your favorite Jewish books? Tell us in the comments below!