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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tisha B'Av

Last night at sundown, Tisha B'av started. This is a Jewish fasting holiday to mark the destruction of the first and second Temples, and other Jewish (non-Holocaust) tragedies.

    

Lost by Jacqueline Davies. Essie wonders why Harriet, obviously from a well-to-do family works at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Essie's home life is hard-- her mother is distant and cold, her father dead. All Essie cares for is the law student next door and her younger sister. We know the fire is coming, but there are even more secrets to be revealed. While the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire is not a Jewish tragedy perse, many of the workers were Jews.

Double Crossing by Eve Tal. In 1905, life is becoming almost unbearable for Russia's Jews. Raizel and her father flee to America, where they'll establish themselves and then send for the rest of the family. It's a long, hard, and dangerous journey across Europe, and a long, hard, and dangerous Atlantic crossing. Once at Ellis Island, the unthinkable happens and they're sent back. Follow it with Cursing Columbus. This is another tragedy that's not specifically Jewish, but one that still befell many Jews.

The Blood Lie by Shirley Reva Vernick. Jack's itching to get out of his small town, dreaming of playing the cello in New York City. But then the gentile girl he's in love with's little sister goes missing and Jack and his family are accused of killing her for ritual sacrifice. The Blood Libel is something that comes up throughout history. This story is based on a true incident in 1928.

    

The Last Song by Eva Wiseman. Isabel feels safe when the Inquisition starts in Spain, but then Isabel discovers that although she was raised Catholic, her family has Jewish roots, and her father has just been arrested by Torquemada. Also read Puppet, Wiseman's book about the blood libel that takes place in Hungary in the 1880s.

Rachel's Secret by Shelly Sanders. After the murder of a Christian boy, tensions between Jews and Christians flare in Czarist Russia. After a 3-day pogrom, Rachel's home is destroyed, and those closest to her are dead.

The Fixer by Bernard Malamud. In Kiev in 1911, Yakov has hidden his Jewish identity and ended up working for the Black Hundreds (an anti-Semitic organization). But when a young Russian boy is found dead and drained of blood, the Black Hundreds accuse the Jews, and Yakov finds himself in prison.

What books would you recommend for Tisha B'av?

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