Jewish Book Week is an annual festival founded by the Jewish Book Council circa 1952. This incredible literary event is dedicated to exploring Jewish culture and ideas on a scale of global awareness and education. It is held both in-person (at Kings Place in London) and online offering a variety of performances, guest speakers, presentations, conversations, etc. Check out the full itinerary for this year’s offered events (running February 25 – March 5), here.
Inspired by the mission of Jewish Book Week– London’s longest-running literary festival– this week’s Three to Read pays homage to Jewish history, culture, and art with some stellar non-fiction picks. These meticulously-researched reads shed light on the incredible contributions and resilience of Jewish communities from century to century. Check them out below!
The Jews of Summer: Summer Camp and Jewish Culture in Postwar America
by Sandra Fox
In the decades following the atrocities of the Holocaust, Jewish communal leaders and rabbis debated the best route forward to preserve Jewish culture. In their pursuit of an answer arose residential summer camps for Jewish youth in postwar America. These sleepaway camps became a key site for exploring the intricacies of Jewish identity as it relates to culture, community, and transformation.
Author Sandra Fox draws upon lived experience for her new release, which “demonstrates how a culture in crisis birthed a rite of passage” that remains significant to the modern Jewish experience. An assistant professor of Hebrew Judaic Studies and producer of a Yiddish-language feminist podcast, Fox offers a complex yet highly approachable sociocultural analysis of postwar Jewish life.
Coffee Shop Read
Genius & Anxiety: How Jews Changed the World, 1847-1947
by Norman Lebrecht
In the span of a century (1847-1947), a handful of brilliant men and women changed the world. This group of visionaries is united in that they all had Jewish origins. From Marx to Freud to Einstein and Kafka, many of these historical figures are household names. Others were unduly lost from historical memory despite their enduring contributions. This read commemorates all the incredible Jewish individuals whose life and legacy shaped the world as we know it.
Devoting half of his life to the historical research and study of Jewish intellectuals, writers, and scientists, Norman Lebrecht has compiled his incredible findings into one deeply educative read. Moving through a century of incredible innovation and transformation, Lebrecht’s work is a staple for anyone’s bookshelf that shows how Jewish men and women spearheaded the greatest advances of the modern era from blood transfusions to genetic science to the motor car.
The House of Fragile Things: Jewish Art Collectors and the Fall of France
by James McAuley
Set between 1870 and the end of World War II, The House of Fragile Things is a haunting historical saga concerning a group of prominent French Jews– the pillars of their community– who contended with a vicious strain of antisemitism. This tragic, true story shows how a vibrant Jewish community embracing art and beauty was ultimately met with destruction and betrayal by their country.
Utilizing the narratives of various historical figures, James McAuley offers a chilling insight into a lesser-acknowledged historical account. Broadly, this read tackles themes of family, loss, loyalty, and unrequited love for art with incredible detail. Make sure to bring your tissues, as this chronological journey, all about restoring memory builds to a heartbreaking end.
Check out more Three to Read recommendations, here.