The best Jewish books you'll ever read

The Books I Picked & Why

The Red Tent

By Anita Diamant

The Red Tent

Why this book?

The Red Tent is a classic, one that was almost required reading for book clubs in the late ’90s. In this international bestseller, Diamant retells the Biblical story of Jacob’s daughters. Its focus on mothers, daughters, and women’s cycles made the ancient world come alive with its rich, lyrical prose.


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A Tale of Love and Darkness

By Amos Oz

A Tale of Love and Darkness

Why this book?

This book is both a coming-of-age memoir for the author and the State of Israel. It’s a masterpiece! I was holding my breath (and had tears streaming down my face) as I read his description of the night the neighborhood gathered by the radio to listen to the UN vote on establishing a Jewish state.


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Night

By Elie Wiesel, Marion Wiesel

Night

Why this book?

It seems like there’s an almost insatiable demand for books about the Holocaust. Yet I have moral qualms with using this tragedy to create emotionally-manipulative fiction. I believe that the victims have the right to this story. No one tells it more powerfully than Elie Wiesel.


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Enemies: A Love Story

By Isaac Bashevis Singer

Enemies: A Love Story

Why this book?

I still remember the thrill of hearing this Nobel Prize Laureate in Fiction speak at NYU many decades ago. He simply cast a spell over the audience. It's hard to pick just one of his works to put on the list but Enemies, A Love Story is one of my favorites so I’ll go with this.


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The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary

By Unknown, Robert Alter

The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary

Why this book?

Because how can you have a list of the greatest Jewish books of all time without this? (apologies for putting it in last place!). The one that has defined life as we know it yet so few of us have ever really read. Actually, "reading" seems too gentle a word for what happens when you dive into this ancient text - grappling, struggling, or wrestling seem more apt. The pre-eminent scholar Robert Alter renders the ancient Hebrew into a powerful, faithful English translation which soars.


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