Celebrating Jewish Voices

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

Explore and get inspired by Jewish biographies, culinary traditions, and memoirs.

  • 52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen

    2021 by Kramer, Faith

    A beautiful cookbook that breaks down 52 Friday night dinners by season, starting in the fall with Rosh Hashana. The recipes take inspiration from Jewish communities around the world, including (but not limited to) Ethiopia, Italy, and Mexico. According to the New York Times, "A chicken and vegetable tagine, fish cakes inspired by India and fritters made from leftover challah are worth keeping." Recommended by Becca.

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  • The Cooking Gene: A Journey ahrough African American Culinary History in the Old South

    2017 by Twitty, Michael

    I truly can't put it any better than The Nosher: [Twitty] “might be the only person right now who could write such a book: Arguably the world’s only black, Jewish, gay culinarian, this ‘yid of a different color’ (his words) has resisted any attempt to categorize his work into easily digestible bites. Instead, he continues to set a rich repast of complex ideas that challenge and expand the boundaries of our traditions—and our palates.” Recommended by Becca.

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  • Savage Feast: Three Generations, Two Continents, and a Dinner Table (a Memoir With Recipes)

    2019 by Fishman, Boris

    Beginning in Belarus and ending in Brooklyn, this multigenerational memoir shows how food and cooking sustained one Eastern European family in their long journey to becoming Americans. Recommended by Steven.

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  • Golem Girl: A Memoir

    2020 by Lehrer, Riva

    Born with spina bifida, the author/artist has been exceptional all her life, and she has lived bravely, challenging what many call normalcy. For more on her creative process, be sure to check out the short film The Paper Mirror. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • I Named My Dog Pushkin (and Other Immigrant Tales): Notes from a Soviet Girl on Becoming an American Woman

    2021 by Silver, Margarita Gokun

    First-generation Jewish emigrants from the former Soviet Union (not unheard of in Skokie) should find plenty to relate to in Silver's hilarious memoir about becoming an American. The author's name may be Silver, but this is comedic gold. Recommended by Steven.

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  • Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World

    2016 by Silverman, Susan

    Susan Silverman tells the story of how she became both a rabbi and an adoptive mother in this moving memoir replete with the kind of humor you'd expect from the sister of the comedian Sarah. Recommended by Steven.

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  • Zabar's: A Family Story, with Recipes

    2022 by Zabar, Lori

    Zabar's is part history, part family memoir, and part cookbook written by Louis Zabarka's eldest granddaughter. It contains photographs, recipes, and provides a fascinating history of “one of the most famous delicatessens in the world.” Recommended by Becca.

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  • Looking up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors & Skokie

    2011 by Pressman, Linda

    Skokie's own Linda Pressman tells her story of growing up as the daughter of Holocaust survivors in a certain "idyllic northern suburb of Chicago." If you're looking for local color, you'll find it here and in her second memoir Jewish Girls Gone Wild. Recommended by Steven.

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  • Treyf: My Life as an Orthodox Outlaw

    2016 by Altman, Elissa

    The complications and contradictions of growing up Jewish in mid twentieth-century America are on full display in this memoir that Dani Shapiro calls "brave and generous." Recommended by Steven.

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  • Brothers Emanuel: A Memoir of an American Family

    2013 by Emanuel, Ezekiel J.

    I can't think of more famous or accomplished Jewish siblings from Chicago than the brothers Zeke, Rahm, and Ari. This is the story of how they came of age in the city and the family that helped shaped them. Recommended by Steven.

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  • Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    2015 by Carmon, Irin

    An accessible and illustrated biography of the extraordinary, remarkable, and inspiring Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg with annotated excerpts from her briefs, opinions, and dissents on key cases. Her relentless pursuit of gender equality is admirable. Recommended by Rummanah.

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  • Matzo Balls for Breakfast: And Other Memories of Growing Up Jewish


    Although classified as a biography, this book is actually a collection of reminiscences by scores of famous Jewish people from Billy Crystal to our own congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. Here's a book that should bring back many memories! Recommended by Steven.

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