Celebrating Jewish Voices

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

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

  • KosherSoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew

    2022 by Twitty, Michael

    I loved Twitty's previous book, the 2018 James Beard Foundation's winning The Cooking Gene. This brilliant follow-up celebrates the intersection of African American and Jewish cultures. Twitty's erudition and enthusiasm are infectious, and his deep dives into the culinary traditions of his ancestors make me want to learn more about my own. Suggested by Chris.

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  • People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present

    2021 by Horn, Dara

    Behind the purposefully provocative title lies a blistering collection of essays exploring the “many strange and sickening ways in which the world’s affection for dead Jews shapes the present moment.” Zeroing in on Jewish literature, Holocaust museums, and Anne Frank, Horn asks serious questions with no easy answers. Suggested by Chris.

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  • Zelda Popkin: The Life and Times of an American Jewish Woman Writer

    2023 by Popkin, Jeremy D.

    This biography/family memoir shines a light on both the life of author Zelda Popkin and various aspects of the Jewish-American experience in the 20th century. Much of Popkin's work touches the issues of working women and the conflict between Jewish immigrant parents and their American-born children. Suggested by Paul.

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  • Cooking Alla Giudia: A Celebration of the Jewish Food of Italy

    2022 by Guetta, Benedetta Jasmine

    Winner of the Jane and Stu­art Weitz­man Fam­i­ly Award for Food Writ­ing and Cook­books, this book provides an insightful guide to Jewish Italian food, a cuisine that reaches as far back as 66 CE. Recipes are from various Jewish communities, and kosher, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options are included. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • The Literary Mafia: Jews, Publishing, and Postwar American Literature

    2022 by Lambert, Joshua N.

    A finalist for the American Jewish Studies Award, this richly detailed and scholarly work chronicles the rise of Jewish editors to important positions in the literary establishment by the 1960s and how they shaped the book industry and the reading public. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Man Ray: The Artist and His Shadows

    2021 by Lubow, Arthur

    Part of the consistently excellent Jewish Lives series published by Yale University Press, these approachable, well-written biographies explore iconic, complex lives through the lens of Jewish identify. This volume offers a wonderful primer on the life of Man Ray, one of the crucial artists affiliated with both the Dada and Surrealist movements. Suggested by Chris.

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  • Salt & Honey: Jewish Teens on Feminism, Creativity, & Tradition


    A finalist for the National Jewish Book Award for Younger People, this candid anthology collection written by Jewish teens explores what it means to be a Jewish young woman today. The collection features features poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art. Suggested by Rummanah.

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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. Suggested 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. Suggested by Steven.

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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. Suggested 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. Suggested 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. Suggested 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! Suggested by Steven.

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  • American Shtetl: The Making of Kiryas Joel, a Hasidic Village in Upstate New York

    2021 by Stolzenberg, Nomi M.

    Winner of the American Jewish Studies Award, this nonfiction book takes a deep dive into how a group Hasidic Jews established its own local government in the 1970s modeled on the shtetls of eastern Europe and how it became one of the most vibrant religious communities in America. Suggested by Sharon.

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