Books

Top 5 books about Jewish identity

Jewish leader, thinker, educator and author Ben M Freeman picks five books which sum up Jewish identity, including a couple of his own

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Photo: Benny Rotlevy / Unsplash

Jewish leader, thinker, educator and author Ben M Freeman, whose new book Reclaiming our Story: The Pursuit of Jewish Pride is out now, selects the books he feels sum up Jewish identity.

1. Story of the Jews by Simon Schama

Charting the different twists and turns in Jewish history, Schama writes accessibly and with deep love and care for his Jewishness. Such an important book! 

2. Anti-Judiasm: The Western Tradition by David Nirenberg

This is one of the most important books ever written on Jew-hate. In it, Nirenberg explains why Jew-hate became embedded in Christian (ie western) and Muslim societies. When I taught the Holocaust, students would always ask, why do people hate the Jews, and this is the answer. This is a must-read book for anyone wanting to understand the world’s oldest hatred. 

3. Contemporary Left Anitisemitism by David Hirsh

Hirsh expertly explains how and why left Jew-hate occurs and helps people understand the threat that leftist Jew-hate poses for the Jewish people. 

4. Jewish Pride: Rebuilding a People by Ben M Freeman

This is the manifesto for the modern Jewish Pride movement and is a vital book for non-Jewish allies to help them understand the Jewish experience. 

5. Reclaiming our Story: The Pursuit of Jewish Pride by Ben M Freeman

The follow-up to my first book is a deep-dive into internalised anti-Jewishness (most commonly referred to as Jewish self-hate). I provide a toolbox to my readers to help them investigate their own Jewish identity, if they are Jews or if they are not, to better understand and support the Jewish people as allies.

Reclaiming our Story:  The Pursuit of Jewish Pride  by Ben M Freeman is out now (No Pasaran, £12.99)

You can buy Reclaiming our Story: The Pursuit of Jewish Pride from The Big Issue shop on bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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