Books to Read for Jewish American Heritage Month | Book Riot

Posted By on June 25, 2022

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May is Jewish American Heritage Month, when we celebrate Jewish contributions to American culture, history, and society. People like Deborah Lipstadt (a historian confirmed as the State Departments Special Envoy to Combat Antisemitism), Joan Rivers, Daveed Diggs, photographer Diane Arbus, Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are just some of the notable Jewish Americans we can celebrate this month. When you think of Jewish Americans, many people tend to assume were a monolith: white and Ashkenazi (of European descent) when the reality is, we are so much more. Our histories, our ethnicities, and our cultures are varied, and recognizing this is important and I say this to my fellow Jews as well, as there is racism and lack of inclusion within our community, too.

Jewish American Heritage Month is a great time to read something new that touches on a topic or history we didnt know about before. Ive put together a list (which could have been much, much longer!) of picture books, middle grade and YA, and adult books to enjoy this month or any time, really. The books showcase Jewish Americans, highlight our diversity, explore aspects of our culture, or are just snapshots of Jewish life in America. There are so many great Jewish authors that I could have included on this list that Id recommend, too: Dahlia Adler (her forthcoming one is Home Field Advantage), Victoria Lee, Hannah Moskowitz, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, LC Rosen, and much more. In the meantime, heres a short list to get you started!

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Twitty, a culinary historian, explores Southern food and food culture in this book, along with his Black ancestry. He is Black, Jewish, and gay, and in this hybrid memoir/history exploration, he delves into the past, and the intersections of history and food. He looks at the food his enslaved ancestors prepared and ate, looks through historical documents and recipes, and collects stories, illustrating the politics around Southern food and at the same time, the power food can have to bring people together. (His forthcoming book, Koshersoul, looks just as amazing!)

Gad, who is biracial, was adopted by a white family at 3 days old. Growing up, she found that she didnt quite fit into Black spaces as a Jew or didnt feel Black enough, and in Jewish spaces, she ran into racism. People in her own family were racist, and her parents cut those people out of her life, including her great-aunt Nette. More than a decade later, Nette is diagnosed with Alzheimers, and Gad can help her. What she finds is that the disease has changed Nette and allowed her to accept Gad, and so she lets her into her life, allowing a new relationship to take root and blossom.

If youre looking for even more Jewish books, check out this post on Jewish fantasy books, and if youd like to learn more, this post on books to teach you about Judaism is great.

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Books to Read for Jewish American Heritage Month | Book Riot

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