Susanne Batzdorff wrote reviews of two new books that will be printed in the next AJL (Association of Jewish Libraries) newsletter, see below. She donated to the books to the library, so they will soon be available for borrowing.
Wengeroff, Pauline. Memoirs of a Grandmother; Scenes from the Cultural History of the Jews of Russia in the Nineteenth Century, Volume One. Translated with an introduction, notes and commentary by Shulamit S. Magnus. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010. xvii, 364p., illus. (ISBN 978-0-8047-6879-5).
Born in 1833 to a wealthy Jewish family in Russia, Wengeroff wrote her memoirs toward the end of the 19th century. In lavish detail she describes the life and times of the Jewish upper middle class family, with particularly loving, but at times critical attention to her own family dynamics. The observances of the holidays, especially the high holy days, Passover and Purim are described. The author reflects throughout upon the status of women and the changing mores with the advent of Haskalah, the Enlightenment and its impact upon parents and children in her family. This edition is unabridged and enhanced by more than one hundred pages of notes and a lengthy bibliography. A second volume is in preparation. Highly recommended as a scholarly but highly readable account by an articulate, intelligent woman.
Dishi, Gad. Jacob’s Family Dynamics: Climbing the Rungs of the Ladder. New York, Devora Publishing, 2010. viii,232p., illus., maps. Paperbound. $ 18.95 (ISBN 978-1-936068-08-1)
Gad Dishi, an orthodox rabbi and teacher as well as a practicing attorney living in Israel, combines his fresh insights into the biblical Jacob story with an accessible style, so that there is something new and interesting for the reader with little background as well as for the scholar. The author demonstrates, by a thorough analysis of the biblical text, that much of what we have always believed is based on assumptions and not on facts, and he teaches the reader to go back to what is in fact contained in the text and to build one’s conclusions on that basis.
It is unfortunate that the book is riddled with grammatical and stylistic errors, which could have been eliminated by careful editing. Recommended for synagogue and university libraries.