Jewish Heritage: Recommended Reads from Temple Beth Sholom

Learning about a group’s faith or history is a great way to see the world from a different perspective. We’ve partnered with Temple Beth Sholom of Topeka to bring you dozens of recommended reads that will help you explore Jewish history, heritage and culture.

Rabbi Debbie Stiel of Topeka’s Temple Beth Sholom reminds us that exploring the cultures of others is not only interesting and enjoyable, it’s also important.

“I think we can find insights in other faiths and cultures that add meaning to our own lives,” Stiel said. “We all have a lot to learn from each other. I hope that learning about each other leads to greater appreciation, understanding and respect for traditions and faiths that are different than our own.”

Read on for books on Jewish cooking, recommended reads for kids, Holocaust memoirs and history, Holocaust fiction and books to help you explore Jewish faith.

For the Kids

Exploring another culture increases tolerance and it’s best to start young. Again, Rabbi Stiel says it perfectly.

“We all tend to live in our own little bubble that is made up of the people and events closest around us,”Stiel said. “This is particularly true of children, because most do not yet have the opportunity to go out and explore the world. When we help them experience other cultures we add to their learning and their understanding of the world. We can teach our kids to cherish diversity by exposing them to other cultures. Then they learn first-hand that people can speak different languages, worship differently, have different customs and still be good, caring people.”

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Discover a new favorite recipe! Rabbi Stiel is a big fan of traditional noodle kugel.

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The Holocaust

It’s hard to read about the horrors of the Holocaust, but many stories of triumph over hate and beauty in darkness emerged from the tragedy. Rabbi Stiel notes that reading about the Holocaust reminds us where hate and distrust of others can lead us.

“Germany was a very modern democracy but dangerous popular beliefs, false science and a charismatic ruthless leader led to the annihilation of millions of people and the loss of most of Jewish culture in several countries,” Stiel said. “The only way to protect against a similar event is for people to learn about the Holocaust and other genocides. Unfortunately genocides have not ceased to exist. We need to be vigilant that our own country is electing good leadership and we need to make sure that our country and others are helping people throughout the world who are being victimized.”

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Explore Jewish Faith

If you want to learn more about Jewish faith, your library has study Bibles and guides to the Torah that can help you explore an ancient tradition.

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Miranda Ericsson

Miranda loves to talk lit! Her favorite reads are poetry, literary fiction, and speculative science fiction, and she's passionate about promoting great literature written by Kansas authors. She works with library programs that support and engage writers in our community, so ask her for more information about the Local Writers Workshop and Great Writers Right Here author fair. Miranda also facilitates TALK book discussions and co-leads the Bean There, Read That book discussion group, and serves as a member of the library's 2Book Topeka team.