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Library Notes

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Library News September 2016


A number of books are surplus to the needs of the library and can be found on the  left of the back bench ( Beit Midrash); priceless in so far as they are yours to take, although a donation to library funds would be welcome.

Donating books
If you have books, which you wish to donate to the library, it would be most helpful if you were to email me details of them so that I can offer advice as whether they are acceptable.  Our shelf space is already very limited so we have to be highly selective.

 I am easily reached at:, thank you.

Library News August 2016

Having run the library for five years, Kenneth Zucker has decided to relinquish responsibility.   On behalf of the Community, I would like to extend our thanks to him for turning this into such a great asset. As I takeover, the library has over 1400 books ranging from the Talmud and other rabbinic texts, to philosophy, Jewish history, holocaust studies and also includes novels and children’s books.

A full list of books under various headings can be found at:

Many of the books may be borrowed for a month. To do so we ask you to sign the details into the record book and sign it back in when you return it, leaving it for me to return to the appropriate shelf.

A number of the books are for reference only, as indicated on the spine of the book. Please, do not remove these from the library, some are parts of sets and others would be difficult to replace.

A number of books have been missing from the library for some time and this would be a good time to check in case you have forgotten to return any; thank you.

We sometimes have surplus books for sale and ask purchasers to leave a contribution.

Suggestions for new books are welcomed.

Victor Miller

Please contact Victor via the Synagogue Office


Following Jewish Book Week 2016 the following books have been acquired:

David Aaronvitch, Party Animals: My Family and Other Communists
Where other went to Church they went to Socialist Sunday School. Who wanted American TV when you could have Russian Movies? A memoir of early life among Communists and an exploration of the world that created that life. A world both of obstinate heroism and monstrous cowardice.

David Cesarani, Final solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-1949
David Cesarani’s sweeping reappraisal challenges accepted explanations for the anti-Jewish politics of Nazi Germany and the inevitability of the ‘Final Solution’. The persecution of the Jews, according to Cesarani, was not always the Nazis central preoccupation, nor was it an inevitable process. Resting on decades of scholarship, it is compelling, authoritative, and profoundly disturbing.

Reuven Hammer, Akiva: Life, Legend, Legacy
Akiva lived during a crucial era in the development of Judaism. His theology played a major part in the development of Rabbinic Judaism. Hammer reassesses Akiva’s role and the reasons why Akiva was so outspoken about “Christian Jews”, the influence of Hellenism and the canonisation of the Hebrew Bible.

Howard Jacobson, J
Set in the future – a world where the past is a dangerous country not to be talked about or visited – J is a love story of incomparable strangeness, both tender and terrifying. “Original and devastatingly brilliant.”

Howard Jacobson, Shylock is My Name
With an absent wife and a daughter going off the rails, wealthy art collector and philanthropist Simon Strulovitch is in need of someone to talk to. So when he meets Shylock in at a cemetery in Cheshire’s Golden Triangle, he invites him back to his house. It’s the beginning of a remarkable friendship.

David Landau,  Arik The Life of Ariel Sharon
A vivid Picture of the most dramatic and imposing Israeli political and military leader of the last forty years. A penetrating look at how Sharon transformed his country playing a role in nearly every stage of the nation’s development since its independence. “Landau has done a superb job”.

Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern,The Golden Age Shtetl, A New History of Jewish Life in East Europe
Challenging popular misconceptions of the shtetl as an isolated ramshackle Jewish village stricken by poverty and pogroms, Stern argues that in its heyday from the 1790’s to the 1840’s, the shtetl was a thriving community as vibrant as any in Europe. “He brings the shtetl to glorious, colourful life.

Janet Soskice, Sisters of Sinai
The story of how two remarkable Scottish sisters, intrepid early nineteenth century travellers made one of the most important manuscript finds in a Sinai monastery – one of the earliest copies of the Gospels; and how their purchase of an ancient manuscript in Cairo led to the discovery in the Geniza in an ancient synagogue in that city of thousands of Hebrew documents which threw light on centuries of Jewish history.  Not to be missed.

Tuvia Tenenbom, Catch the Jew
Tenenbom wandered round Israel and the Palestine Authority - sometimes at grave risk to his life – in search of the untold truths in today’s Holy Land. “Poignant, enraging and funny this book lays bare the intensity of a turbulent land”.  “Tenenbom goes where it hurts …he wants to know what the reality is, not what we would like the reality to be.”

A.B. Yehoshua, The Extra
“A.B. Yehoshua is as creative, humorous and provocative as ever – exploring themes familiar to him of love, family relationships and artistic ambitions, set mainly in an ever-changing Jerusalem.” “He is still producing some of his best work”

Notes from the Library: February 2015: Recent Acquisitions

The Koren Talmud Bavli Vols. 1 to 15
Thanks to an extremely generous donation from Victor, Sarah and Laura Miller in loving memory of Judy Miller, the Library is on course to obtain all 42 volumes of the Koren Talmud Bavli. The first 16 volumes so far printed are now on the shelves. The rest will follow as they come off the press.

Sasha Abramsky – The House of Twenty Thousand Books
A grandson’s elegy for the vanished world of his grandparent’s house in London and the exuberant jostling of two traditions – Jewish and Marxist. “The sheer richness of this marvellous book”.

Geoffrey Alderman – British Jewry since Emancipation
Taking account of the most recent research and based on a wealth of sources, here is the most authoritative and definitive history of modern British Jewry currently available.

Patrick Bishop – The Reckoning
This is the account of the search by British police in mandate Palestine for Avraham Stern the leader of the Stern Gang (or “Stern Group” as some Israelis insist); whom they shot when they found him.

Amos Elon – The Pity of It All
A wonderful panorama of Jewish Cultural life in Germany in the two centuries before Hitler. “Not only a great history, but an elegy for a lost civilisation”.

Michael Smith – The Spy who saved 10,000 Jews
Foley was a brilliant intelligence officer who not only went into concentration camps to get Jews out, he hid them in is home, obtained false passports and ignored the rules to provide them with visas for Palestine. M16 still regards him as one of its greatest officers.

Hillel Halkin – Jabotinsky A Life
An insightful biography of one of Zionism’s most important figures. A grand rendering of the cultural and political landscape in which Jabotinsky grew, toiled and wrote.

Nicholas de Lange – An Introduction to Judaism
In this new edition, contemporary Judaism is presented in all its rich diversity, including both traditional and modern theologies as well as secular forms of Jewish identity. “A stimulating introduction to a major world culture.”

Bernard Lewis - The Crisis of Islam
Though this book by the foremost historian of Islam was published in 2003 it is still leads the field in charting the descent of Islam from a leading and dynamic civilisation to one that has become increasingly dogmatic and rejects modernity in favour of a return to a sacred past.

Caroline Moorehead – Village of Secrets

During the Nazi occupation, the inhabitants of Le Chambon-sur Lignon high up on the Massif Central and other villages saved several thousand Jews and others from the concentration camps. A story of the courage and determination of a small number of heroic individuals.

Derek J. Penslar –Jews and the Military; A History
This book shatters the conventional image of diaspora Jews as a people who shun warfare. This is an analysis of Jewish participation in armies from the seventeenth century to the present and connects it to the early military history of the state of Israel.

Michael Scammell;  Koestler; the Indispensable Intellectual

Described as “one- third blackguard, one-third lunatic, and one third genius” Koestler was one of the most fascinating and controversial writers of his day. Some of the chapter headings indicate what may be of particular interest to us  – “A Budapest childhood”, “Rise, Jew, Rise”, “Zionist”, “The God that Failed”,  “Return to Palestine” and “Farewell to Zionism”,.

Cecil Roth – The Spanish Inquisition
Prior to the Holocaust, no other organisation for religious persecution ever equalled the Spanish Inquisition in intensity, scope, or efficiency of organisation. Cecil Roth remains one of the world’s great authorities on Jewish history and the Inquisition.

J.B.Segal – A History of the Jews of Cochin
A miniscule community on the Spice Coast of south-west India maintained a vigorous Jewish existence throughout at least two millennia. This is the story of their loyalty to Judaism and their friendship with their Indian neighbours.

Stephen Spector – Operation Solomon

On May 24 and 25 1991 14,310 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel. This book gives the details of the tense negotiations between the Israelis and the Ethiopians – the secret deals and the sudden setbacks which nearly aborted the mission including the absence of the Chairman of the Jewish Agency when the moment came to deliver a  cheque for $35 million to seal the deal.


We have previously listed many of the recently published books that have been added to our collection. But no library including the great libraries such as the British Library and the Bodleian can grow on new books alone and they rely to a very great extent on acquiring books from donors or collections.

We have been fortunate that among the 256 books added to the Library in the past year are a considerable number that have been donated by our members. It is only possible to refer to a small sample of  twenty books

Sholom Aleichem – Stories and Satires

Karen Armstrong - -A History of God

Menachem Begin – The Revolt

Gerry Black – Living up West; Jewish Life in London’s West End.

Martin Buber – Tales of the Hassidim Vols. 1 & 2

The Copenhagen Haggadah (facsimile)

Amos Elon – Holy Land from the Air

Israel Finestein – Jewish Society in Victorian England

William Frankel – Tea with Einstein ad other Memories

Roman Halter – Life and Art through Stained Glass

James Michener – The Source

Peter Renton – The Lost Synagogues of London

Leo Rosten - The Joys of Yiddish

David Selbourne – Not an Englishman

Moshe Silberg – Talmudic Law and the Jewish State

Geza Vermes -  Jesus the Jew

Bill Williams – A Pictorial History of Manchester Jewry

A.B. Yehoshua -  Friendly Fire

Israel Zangwill – King of Schnorrers

Rabbi S. Y. Zevin – Prayers and Festivals

For the complete catalogue follow the instructions on the Library website.

Jewish Book Week provided the Library with another haul of books, all enticing reads and some of them outstanding.  

Shlomo Avineri – Herzl
Avineri shows in this concise and incisive biography how Herzl transformed the idea of a Jewish state from an idea held by a few Jewish intellectuals into a national movement with the institutions and diplomatic clout that were essential for the establishment of of Israel.

Jeremy Dauber – The World of Sholem Aleichem
“Sholem Aleichem’s life was as improbable and dramatic as any of his stories. This is the major biography that he deserves – original, comprehensive, insightful and riveting.”

Michael Fishbane and Joanna Weinberg – Midrash Unbound
The Midrash is one of the most ancient genres of Jewish Literature. The authors cover a broad range of texts, from late antiquity to the modern period. There is a comprehensive introduction placing Midrash in its historical and cultural setting.

Anne Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl
“The single most poignant story to emerge from the Second World War.” This edition marks sixty years from the first publication of the Diary.

Harry Freedman – The Talmud: A Biography
A highly praised book by a former member of NNLS. “ A tour de force of one of the world’s greatest scriptures that offers a new understanding of the evolution of Jewish religion and identity throughout the ages and its impact on world history, religion and culture. A must read.

Chaeran Y.Freeze & Jay M. Harris – Everyday Life in Imperial Russia
This is an absolutely fascinating book because it contains translations of original documents detailing Jewish life in Imperial Russia as it happened. To list at random only a few of the topics – “Conversion to Christianity” , “Marriage and Divorce”, “Traditional Healing and Folk Medicines”, “Modesty”, “Extra Marital Sex”, Anti-Semitism and Pogroms”, “Emigration”

David Grossman – Falling Out of Time
Described as a drama – part play, part prose, pure poetry - David Grossman, whose son was killed in the Lebanon war, tells the story of bereaved parents setting out to reach their lost children.

Thomas Harding – Hanns and Rudolf
“Stunning…an utterly compelling account of one man’s hunt for Rudolf Hoss the Kommandmant of the most notorious death camp of all”.

Douglas Hurd and Edward Young – Disraeli or Two Lives
Disraeli was a superb orator, writer and wit but there is, as the authors show, a vast chasm between the real Disraeli and his posthumous reinvention. “A splendidly written, finely judged and thoroughly persuasive book.”

Naim Kattan – Coming of Age in Baghdad
Naim Kattan takes readers into the heart of Baghdad’s then teeming Jewish community. His Baghdad is a hot, quarrelsome city beset in equal parts by fear and desire.. He evokes the colonial, Muslim-dominated society of his childhood and leaves an unforgettable portrait of Baghdad’s exoticism, and the political forces that shape it today.

Antony Polonsky – The Jews in Poland and Russia: A Short History
The leading historian of East European Jewry provides a comprehensive overview that highlights the realities of a lost world of Jewish life while setting them in the context of the political, economic and social realities of the time.

Moshe Rosman – Founder of Hasidism
A quest for the historical Ba’al Shem Tov. An account of the history behind the legend. A portrait drawn from life rather than myth. “Bold and brilliant - the result is a persuasive revision of a fundamental chapter in Jewish experience.”

Arie Shavit – My Promised Land
“An immensely powerful book… which will provide ammunition both for those who despise Israel and those who revere it, telling its darkest deeds as well as its shining triumphs.”  “One of the most nuanced books written on Israel in years”