RH books

I didn’t read as much over Rosh Hashana as I thought I might, but I did the other things I expected to: praying (and hearing the shofar) at the synagogue, enjoying sociable and very tasty meals, and a bit of self-reflection; so that’s okay.

262. Blue Star over Red Square by Carmela Raiz

I think I’d heard of Refuseniks when I was younger, but the whole era of the USSR ended when I was hardly even a teenager, so I appreciated getting a better insight into the phenomenon in general (of Soviet Jews applying for and being repeatedly refused permission to emigrate, especially to Israel, and also being harassed as traitorous for their wish both to leave and to live Jewishly in the meantime) and into one family who went through it in particular. Raiz published this book in 1994 (the Russian language edition came out in 1992), very shortly after the family’s eventual aliya in 1990, which took place almost two decades after Raiz and her husband had first applied. It’s an informative and inspiring book, which seems to be out of print but available second hand.

263. The Jewish Kingdom of Kuzar by Rabbi Zelig Shachnowitz

This is an even older tale, but it’s a new translation, so should be available new for awhile. Rabbi Shachnowitz wrote for Jewish youngsters in Germany, with this book being first published in the 1920s. It is a retelling of what facts are/were known about the Jewish history of Kuzar, and fairly gripping as a novel. Well worth reading.

264. The Jacobite Wars: Scotland and the Military Campaigns of 1715-1745 by John L. Roberts

I’d read enough novels on the topic of the ’45 to want a more specifically historical overview, and this book well fulfilled the purpose. The context of the ’15 (which I hadn’t read so much about previously) was useful, although it takes up far less than half of the book. Interestingly, Roberts never seems to say that things had to go one way or the other. He points out where (with hindsight, of course) certain campaigns and battles could have gone differently for both sides (as so often in such things, more unity and less bickering and taking of offence by generals, officers and princes would have helped!) and gives sometimes day by day recountings of who did what, and knew what, when and where. My main difficulty with the book was sometimes remembering which side a particular name was on, as they might have been introduced chapters before. A couple of charts of the main players on both sides would have been good to refer back to, as would a few maps, although I actually missed those less.

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