I'm Zahava, and I work in a synagogue in Alaska.
I picked these five books from a bunch I got at a recent book sale at my shul. It was a jackpot for replenishing my reading because the used books stores up here don't have. I noticed that I have some overlaps with some other folks, but I think that's fine--maybe we'll have more to discuss!
Wrestling With Zion: Progressive Jewish American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict edited by Tony Kushner and Alisa Solomon
Rabbis and Wives by Chaim Grade
The Rent Tent by Anita Diamant
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality
I already read three from the book sale:
a novel called Days of Awe by Achy Obejas which is about a Cuban-American daughter of a crypto-Jew with a a very pained past
Aimee & Jaguar by Erika Fischer non-fiction account of two German women lovers, one Jewish, and one married to a Nazi, during the time of the Holocaust
and Chosen By God: A Brother's Journey by Joshua Hammer a secular Jew's memoir of his brother's path to Orthodox Judaism
I would recommend all three as an enjoyable, educational read. I learned more about Jews in Cuba, Jews who attemtped to live in Berlin "underground," and the inside life of some sects of Orthodoxy I am less familiar with. What I didn't understand was why Hammer was so angry with his brother for becoming Orthodox. He is so upset with his brother that the book initially left a bad taste in my mouth, but I eventually came to appreciate the book as much for the stories from withing his brother's world as for the insight into the author's thoughts and relationship to his brother.
If anyone out there is looking for other book suggestions, here are some of my other favorites:
How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household by Blu Greenberg is one of my all-time favorite Jewish books! Homemaking manual meets halachic instructions meets 1970s feminist--count me in! If only the world weren't so slow to arrive to some of Greenberg's visions. Nevertheless, I appreciate the detail with which she explains the efforts to create a traditional Jewish home.
Davita's Harp by Chaim Potok is a touching and poignant novel about a girl's journeys in Judaism.
Mazel by Rebeccau Goldstein is a novel of three generations of Jewish women who go from shteltl to Yiddish New York stage to secular America to academia back to Orthodox New Jersey. A fantastic journey!