Historical Reads for Hanukkah: An eBook Special

Brush up on Jewish history this Hanukkah season in this fascinating range of eBooks. Read about the history of the Jewish deli, the experiences of African American Jews, the rescue of Jewish culture after the Holocaust, the origins of American Judaism and much more in the eBooks below—each $1.99 through the end of December!

Offer good through December 31, 2020, only available through US retailers


Jews on the FrontierJews on the Frontier

Religion and Mobility in Nineteenth-Century America

by Shari Rabin

Jews on the Frontier vividly recounts the story of a neglected era in American Jewish history, offering a new interpretation of American religions, rooted not in congregations or denominations, but in the politics and experiences of being on the move. This book shows that by focusing on everyday people, we gain a more complete view of how American religion has taken shape. This book follows a group of dynamic and diverse individuals as they searched for resources for stability, certainty, and identity in a nation where there was little to be found.

Jews on the Frontier is a compelling account of the cultural and spiritual changes experienced by American Jews outside the main coastal cities and their large congregations before the large East-European emigration waves of the late Nineteenth-Century.”—Civil War Book Review


Making Judaism Safe for AmericaMaking Judaism Safe for America

World War I and the Origins of Religious Pluralism

by Jessica Cooperman

This volume shows how, at a crucial turning point in world history, the Jewish Welfare Board managed to use the policies and power of the U.S. government to advance its own agenda: to shape the future of American Judaism and to assert its place as a truly American religion.

“In this perceptive book, Jessica Cooperman highlights the important role of the National Jewish Welfare Board, and shows how ideas about pluralism shaped both Judaism and American religion generally during the tumultuous World War I era. A valuable contribution!”—Jonathan D. Sarna,  author of American Judaism: A History


The Soul of JudaismThe Soul of Judaism

Jews of African Descent in America

by Bruce D. Haynes

“This eye-opening look at the different ways Jews of African descent view themselves not only challenges readers’ thoughts about how Jews identify as white in the New World, it also offers the intriguing perspective of Black Jews who feel they are the true descendants of the biblical chosen people… The Soul of Judaism is highly recommended for anyone who thinks seriously about Judaism and Jewish identity in the contemporary world.”—The Reporter

“In his new beautiful book, The Soul of Judaism, Bruce Haynes brings together his expertise in sociology, Jewish studies, and African-American studies to explore the history and situation of Jews of African descent in the United States. In doing so, he also adds to the large literature on the racialization of European-heritage Jews in the West.”—Reading Religion


The Rage RaceThe Rag Race

How Jews Sewed Their Way to Success in America and the British Empire

by Adam D. Mendelsohn

“In The Rag Race, Adam Mendelsohn traces the intertwined fates of the Jewish community and the garment industries in America and Britain…Like any good historical writer, he turns documents and data into relatable human stories.”—Sewjewish.com

“Mendelsohn joins the scholarly debate over the roots of Jewish economic success in the U.S. This he does with great style and energy, offering vivid descriptions, telling detail, and clear arguments, all based on meticulous research. This is a superb book that is a model of comparative and transnational history. It should be read not only by historians of American or modern Jewry, but by historians of immigration, business, fashion, and urban life.”—American Historical Review


Hanukkah in AmericaHanukkah in America

A History

by Dianne Ashton

“Ashton offers us the most comprehensive history of Hanukkah to date . . . . It would be a joy to find this book nestled under one’s Hanukkah bush or in front of the memorah.”—Practical Matters

“Ashton’s study reveals that the interactions between Jews and their American neighbors held the potential for inspiring Jews to reexamine their religious culture and redirect it toward bringing greater joy to American Jewish life. This ‘Christmas effect’ also demonstrates the complicated question of whether an innovation constitutes assimilation or ‘Jewish renewal.’ When was borrowing from the majority culture an act of ‘selling out,’ and when was it a means to finding a more meaningful solution? Jews in America have always wrestled with that dilemma and, perhaps, never more than during Hanukkah.”—Marginalia Review of Books


The Passionate TorahThe Passionate Torah

Sex and Judaism

Edited by Danya Ruttenberg

“It is not often that an academic title about religion stimulates other parts of the body as well as the mind. Yet that is what Ruttenberg, a rabbi, and the seventeen contributors to this collection of essays have accomplished. Ruttenberg, a wunderkind of Jewish feminism, leads the reader through an often racy reconsideration of what the sacred Jewish texts say about our most intimate relationships.”—Publishers Weekly

“The vitality and, yes, passion in this assemblage of thought-provoking essays go beyond the & everything you’ve always wanted to know but were afraid to ask mindset. The Passionate Torah is a vivid reminder that sexuality has had a long and distinguished, albeit controversial, place in the Jewish law.”—Jerusalem Report


A Rich BrewA Rich Brew

How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture

by Shachar M. Pinsker

“Pinsker . . . believes that cafés in six cities created modern Jewish culture. Its the kind of claim that sounds as if it might be a game-changer, and there are enough grounds and gossip in A Rich Brew to keep this customer engrossed from cup to cup.”—The Wall Street Journal

“[H]ugely entertaining and intimidatingly well researched, with scarcely a café in which a Jewish writer raised a cup of coffee from Warsaw to New York left undocumented.”—Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker


A Mortuary of BooksA Mortuary of Books

The Rescue of Jewish Culture after the Holocaust

by Elisabeth Gallas, translated by Alex Skinner

“In meticulous detail, drawing on archival sources, memoirs, correspondence, and histories, Gallas . . . makes an impressive book debut with a comprehensive history of efforts to recover, identify, and restore artifacts of Jewish culture and scholarship. . . . A fresh, significant contribution to Jewish history.”—STARRED Kirkus Reviews

“In this remarkable tale of a little-studied aspect of the Holocaust, Gallas reckons with what the attempted Nazi erasure of Jewish intellectual and cultural heritage means for a people whose identity is tied to a tradition of books and learning… A serious work of Jewish studies scholarship that is important and accessible for anyone interested in the history of the book or postwar Europe.”—Library Journal


Pastrami on RyePastrami on Rye

An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli

by Ted Merwin

“Combining a flair for anecdote with exhaustive research, Merwin has produced an exuberantly readable history of delis, and he reveals how their prepared foods helped free early twentieth-century women from daily kitchen drudgery. The very success of ethnic Jewish delicatessens led inevitably to cultural assimilation for Jews and to appreciative acceptance by Gentiles, and the delicatessen became indisputably an American institution.”—Booklist

“In Pastrami on Rye, author Ted Merwin captures the essence of the New York deli experience…Merwin offers a thoughtful, ‘overstuffed’ look at all aspects of the Jewish deli by examining the role of its food in America through, as he puts it, the ‘greasy…gluttonous lens of the pastrami sandwich.’ [A] delightful exploration of one of America’s favorite culinary institutions.”—Chicago Tribune


A Rosenberg by Any Other NameA Rosenberg by Any Other Name

A History of Jewish Name Changing in America

by Kirsten Fermaglich

“Kirsten Fermaglich’s insightful book explores the seemingly ordinary phenomenon of Jewish name changing to shed light on broad themes of racial and ethnic identity, and the complicated ways that Americans—and particularly American Jews—negotiated the markers of distinctiveness and racial “otherness” with the goals of integration and access… While only a minority of Jews petitioned to change their names, the phenomenon proves to be an instructive window for examining the changing boundaries of race and ethnicity in America.”—The Journal of American History

“Fascinating . . . A fine contribution to an important, previously underexplored area of American Jewish identity and social history.”—Publishers Weekly


Jews, God, and VidetapeJews, God, and Videotape

Religion and Media in America

by Jeffrey Shandler

“In Jews, God, and Videotape, Shandler provides a fresh and fascinating account of the impact of technology on the religious life of American Jews during the last one hundred years.”—Philadelphia Inquirer

“Shandler’s mastery of the relevant scholarly literature, his penetrating eye, and his sharp ear for a telling anecdote make this volume fascinating and illuminating. It is a valuable balance to the many institutional histories on American Jewry or analyses of American Jewish thought. It is equally important as a model of how new methodologies can offer valuable insights into phenomena that are well known but rarely understood.”—Religious Studies Review


Jews and BoozeJews and Booze

Becoming American in the Age of Prohibition

by Marni Davis

“This is an excellent book. Davis crafted a complex and sophisticated narrative, weaving a variety of themes together into an argumentative arc that demonstrates the complex relationships between prohibition and the development of three generations in American Jewish life.”—Journal of American History

“Davis has significantly enhanced our understanding of Jewish acculturation in the United States.”—Journal of American Ethnic History