The nights are getting longer, the weather is getting colder, and Hanukkah is just around the corner.
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, celebrates both an ancient military victory and the flame of a tiny oil lamp miraculously lasting for eight days. It’s a chance for families to light candles in a menorah, say blessings, exchange gifts . . . and read books! Two new offerings are perfect for Hanukkah gift-giving.
The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia by Stephanie Butnick, Liel Leibovitz & Mark Oppenheimer
The hosts of Tablet magazine’s “Unorthodox” podcast branch out into book format with The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia, a compendium of all things Jewish, covering everything from bagels to the Book of Life, Shabbat to “Seinfeld.” Alternately irreverent and profound—but always informative—entries range from single sentences (“chutzpah: What it takes to think you can write an encyclopedia of Jewish life”) to four-page spreads (check out the sections about Jewish gangsters and Jewish Hollywood). Photographs of Jewish people and places abound, and quick-reference sections about holidays answer such questions as “What do we do?” and “Anything good to eat?”
The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia is a great gift for the Jewish maven in your life who’d relish quoting facts about the history of the garment industry or brushing up on their Yiddish curses.
The Jewish Cookbook by Leah Koenig
You can never have too many cookbooks, and The Jewish Cookbook by Leah Koenig is one you’ll pull off the shelf over and over again. Sections for standard cookbook fare, such as soups and stews, are joined by Jewish-specific chapters (“Dumplings, Noodles, and Kugels” is a go-to), and symbols indicate when a recipe is gluten-free, vegan or meets other criteria for ingredients or prep time.
Dozens of photographs show Ashkenazi favorites like braided challah, fruit-drenched blintzes and crisp pickles alongside curried fish balls from South Africa, coconut rice from India and beloved Middle Eastern desserts like sweet egg meringue and sufganiyot (jelly donuts). You’ll find recipes from chefs at renowned restaurants and for food-specific holidays like Passover. Best of all, every recipe begins with a story: where the recipe comes from, what traditions surround it and how it can best be accompanied.
Give The Jewish Cookbook to a Jewish cook who wants to combine the tastes of their childhood (wherever it may have been) with adventurous forays into Jewish cooking around the world.