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On December 10, The Yiddish Book Center in Amherst Massachusetts released its list of the Great 100 modern Jewish Books. The list is reproduced below

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Welcome to MyJewishBooks.com


Great Jewish Books
The Great Jewish Books Project


The National Yiddish Book Center has identified the "100 Greatest Works of Modern Jewish Literature" - written in Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, German, Spanish, English and other languages. Our plans are to integrate them into the mainstream of contemporary Jewish education.

The seven distinguished judges compiling the list are: Glenda Abramson of Oxford University; Robert Alter of the University of California at Berkeley; Hillel Halkin of Zichron Ya-akov, Israel; Gerson Shaked of Hebrew University in Jerusalem; Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times; Ilan Stavans of Amherst College; and Ruth Wisse of Harvard University. The project coordinator is Dr. Jeremy Dauber, a former Yiddish Book Center intern, a recent Rhodes Scholar, and assistant professor of Yiddish at Columbia University.

Deliberations began in the spring of 2000 and concluded in December 2001. The Center's president, Aaron Lansky, describes the results as "a fascinating, challenging, sometimes surprising list with books ranging from Mendele to Maus." Professor Ruth Wisse, author of The Modern Jewish Canon, says that the final list reflects "a mighty literature."

"The need for the program arose out of our conviction that American Jews have failed to embrace modern Jewish writing -- the tens of thousands of novels, stories, plays, poetry and memoirs that have chronicled the transformation of Jewish life, from the old world to the new," Lansky explains. "Our goal is to carry the Jewish story forward - from the Torah, Talmud and other traditional texts to the Jewish literature of our own time."

The list was developed over the past two years, with the judges working from an initial compilation of nearly 600 titles, plus recommendations by a group of distinguished nominators. Criteria for selection included intrinsic literary merit as well as Jewish authorship and explicit treatment of Jewish experience or sensibility. The judges evaluated each book for its theme and subject, the quality of writing, the depth of ideas, and its place in the Jewish canon. Famous and widely read titles take their place beside lesser-known but equally important works. The books are listed alphabetically and are not ranked. The list includes novels, plays, poetry and memoirs in English, Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian, French, Spanish, Italian, German and other languages.

Criteria for the list are straightforward: a "Jewish book" is defined as one that is written by a Jewish author and that elucidates Jewish experience or sensibility. "Modern" has been defined to include works written from the Enlightenment of the late-eighteenth century to the present. These definitions enabled the judges to select books from a field of brilliant authors, ranging from the grandfather of Yiddish literature, Mendele Moykher Sforim, to contemporary masters such as Saul Bellow, Cynthia Ozick, and Philip Roth.

A symposium on April 23, 2002 in New York City at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater next to Symphony Space (West 95th Street and Broadway) will be held.

The Selection Committee
(Affiliations for identification only) Glenda Abramson, University of Oxford
Professor Robert Alter UC Berkeley
Hillel Halkin Israel
Ilan Stavans Amherst College
Gershon Shaked Israel
Kenneth Turan Los Angeles Times
Professor Ruth Wisse Harvard University
Dr. Jeremy Dauber Columbia University


Below are the 100 books. If you click on a highlighted title, book cover or icon, you can read more about the book, purchase it, or in many cases, read excerpts.




[book] Tales of Mendele the Book Peddler (Fishke der krumer, 1869)
(Kitser masoes Binyomin hashlishi, 1878)





S.Y. Abramovitch
The Nag (Di Kliyatshe, 1873-1909)

Available on Amazon.com z shops (used)



[book] Ash on a Young Man's Sleeve (1954)
Dannie Abse






[book] A Guest for the Night (Oreakh nata lalun, 1939)
S.Y. Agnon






[book] A Simple Story (Sipur Pashet, 1935)
S.Y. Agnon








[book] Only Yesterday (Tmol shilshom, 1945)
S.Y. Agnon






The Joy of the Poor (Simkhat aniyyim, 1941)
Nathan Alterman






[book] Selected Poetry
Yehuda Amichai








[book] Pioneers (Pionern, 1904-05)
S. An-ski






[book] The Dybbuk (Der Dibuk: Tsvishn tsvey veltn, 1911)
S. An-ski








[book] The Age of Wonders (Tor hapelaot, 1978)
Aharon Appelfeld






[book] Salvation (Der tilim-yid, 1934)
Sholem Asch










[book] [book] Collected Stories
Isaac Babel












[book] The First Day and Other Stories (2001)
Dvora Baron








[book] The Garden of the Finzi-Contini (Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini, 1962)
Giorgio Bassani










Feathers (Notzot, 1979)
Haim Be'er

Twenty years have passed since the publication of Feathers (1979), a book that immediately established Be'er's reputation as one of the more significant Hebrew prose writers of his generation. Though often included in surveys of the rich output of Hebrew prose diction since the middle 1970s, Feathers differed from them radically both in setting and in characters. The plot is set in Jerusalem of the 1950s and 1960s, while the main characters are either pious Jews or Jerusalem eccentrics. His second novel, The Time of Trimming (Et HaZamir, 1987), is also marked by its marginality to the mainstream of Israeli fictional topics: though it does take place in the Israeli army, its characters are again religious Jews, not the usual soldiers one is accustomed to in Israeli fiction. Five years later, Be'er published Both their Loves and Hates (Gam Ahavatam Gam Sinatam), a loving, semi-biographical recreation of three of the leading modern Hebrew authors who were clearly formative in his intellectual development: Bialik, Brenner, and Agnon.






[book] Herzog (1964)
Saul Bellow












[book] Mr. Sammler's Planet (1970)
Saul Bellow












[book] Selected Stories
Michah Yosef Berdichevsky










[book] [book] Descent (Opgang, 1920)
David Bergelson










[book] [book] Selected Poems
H.N. Bialik










[book] Breakdown and Bereavement (Shekhol vekishalon, 1920)
Joseph Hayyim Brenner










[book] The Rise of David Levinsky (1917)
Abraham Cahan








[book] The Memoirs (1977-1986)
Elias Canetti.










[book] Selected Poems and Prose (2000)
Paul Celan










[book] The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000)
Michael Chabon










[book] Belle du Seigneur (1968)
Albert Cohen










[book] Tales in Praise of the Baal Shem Tov (Shivkhei Ha-Besht, 1814)
Dov Ber of Linitz

The link is to another book, since that 1814 edition is no longer for sale, but Martin Buber is a fine substitute






Whither? (Lean, 1927)
Mordecai Ze'ev Feierberg








[book] Jud Süss (1925)
Leon Feuchtwanger










[book] The Journey (Podroz, 1990)
Ida Fink










[book] The Diary of A Young Girl
Anne Frank










[book] The Williamsburg Trilogy (1961)
Daniel Fuchs










[book] The Jewish Gauchos of the Pampas (Los gauchos judios, 1940)
Alberto Gerchunoff










[book] The Things We Used to Say (Lessico famigliare, 1963)
Natalia Ginzburg








[bookcover click me] Selected Poems
Jacob Glatstein








Next To (Etzel, 1913)
Uri Nisan Gnessin










[book] The Fragmented Life of Don Jacobo Lerner (1978)
Isaac Goldemberg








[book] The Yeshiva (Tsemakh Atlas, 1967)
Chaim Grade










Selected Poetry
Uri Zevi Greenberg








[book] See Under: Love (Ayen erekh ahava, 1986)
David Grossman








[book] Life and Fate (Zhizn i sudba, 1980)
Vasily Grossman










[book cover] The Victory (1969)
Henryk Grynberg








Selected Poems
Moishe Leib Halpern










[book] The Dweller in Gardens (Yoshevet baganim, 1943)
Hayim Hazaz








[book] Jewish Stories and Hebrew Melodies (1987)
Heinrich Heine










[book] Heshel's Kingdom (1999)
Dan Jacobson








[book] The Castle (Das Schloss, 1926)
Franz Kafka










[book] Collected Stories
Franz Kafka








[book] The Trial (Der Prozess, 1925)
Franz Kafka










[book] A Walker in the City (1951)
Alfred Kazin








[book] Fateless (1975)
Imre Kertesz










[book] The Second Scroll (1951)
A.M. Klein








[book] Zelmenyaner (1928)
Moyshe Kulbak










[book] Hebrew Ballads and Other Poems (1902-1939)
Else Lasker-Schüler








The Golem (Der Goylem, 1919)
H. Leivick










[book] If This Is a Man (Se questo e un uomo, 1946) [Survival in Auschwitz]
Primo Levi










[book] The Complete Stories (1997)
Bernard Malamud










[book] Khumesh Lider and Selected Poems
Itzik Manger












Selected Poetry
Peretz Markish










[book] The Pillar of Salt (La statue de sel, 1953)
Albert Memmi










[book] Victoria (Viktoryah, 1993)
Sami Michael










[book] Death of a Salesman (1949)
Arthur Miller












[book] Paper Bridges (2000) Kadya Molodowsky











[book] [book] The Tales (Mayses, 1815)
Nachman of Bratslav










[book cover art click here] The Family Mashber (Di mishpokhe mashber, 1939; 1943)
Der Nister








[bookcover art] Unto Death (Ad mavet, 1971)
Amos Oz








[book] The Pagan Rabbi (1971)
Cynthia Ozick












[book] Selected Poetry (1989)
Dan Pagis



Dan Pagis (1930-1986) spent three of his adolescent years in a Nazi camp before arriving in Palestine in 1946. He became one of the most vibrant voices in modern Israeli poetry and is considered a major world poet of his generation. A master scholar of Hebrew literature, Pagis drew fully on classical texts and infused his poetry with a centuries-old mysticism. Yet he also brought an immediacy and colloquialism to Hebrew poetry. In these superbly translated poems, Dan Pagis's voice can be heard celebrating the human spirit.




[book] Collected Stories (1994)
Grace Paley



Booklist wrote, "Paley is a member of that select breed of writers who become masters of the short story and resist the pressure to produce a novel. This volume gathers together more than 30 years' worth of stellar stories from Paley's best-known collections, The Little Disturbances of Man (1959), Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974), and Later the Same Day (1985). This rich compilation presents us with the full spectrum of Paley's voices as well as her observations and interpretations of urban family life and a society that thrives on oppression. An outspoken pacifist, feminist, and self-described "cooperative anarchist," Paley can no more keep her political beliefs out of her fiction than a plant can keep from releasing oxygen into the atmosphere, but the story always comes first. Her cast of stubborn, opinionated, earthy, smart, sassy, and robust characters demand it. Paley writes just as effectively from a man's point of view as a woman's, discerning the ironies of everyone's predicaments, but she writes most poignantly about the frustrations of women stuck in the rigidity of gender roles. Paley's people either have moxie, or tremendous endurance. They're frank about lust, angry about money, and always ready for a good argument. These staccato tales of the city capture of the essence of the changes each decade has brought, while also dramatizing the continuity of human emotions. And Paley can just knock us flat with the force of her spirited language."




[book] Selected Stories
I.L. Peretz



Isaac Leybush Peretz (1852-1915) is one of the most influential figures of modern Jewish culture. Born in Poland and dedicated to Yiddish culture, he recognized that Jews needed to adapt to their times while preserving their cultural heritage, and his captivating and beautiful writings explore the complexities inherent in the struggle between tradition and the desire for progress. An anthology of fiction, plays, poetry, letters, memoirs, and speeches by the father of modern Yiddish literature. Includes an introduction on his role in Yiddish literature and Jewish culture and the political culture of his times, essays by friends and associates, a chronology, a biographical sketch, b&w photos and illustrations, and a glossary.




[book] Revealer of Secrets (Megale temirin, 1819)
Joseph Perl












Selected Poems
by Rakhel






[book] Blood from the Sky (Le sang du ciel, 1961)
Piotr Rawicz










[book] Collected Poems (1937)
Isaac Rosenberg










[book] Call It Sleep (1934)
Henry Roth



Novel by Henry Roth, published in 1934. It centers on the character and perceptions of a young boy, the son of Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrants in a ghetto in New York City. Roth uses stream-of-consciousness techniques to trace the boy's psychological development and to explore his perceptions of his family and of the larger world around him. The book powerfully evokes the terrors and anxieties the child experiences in his anguished relations with his father and realistically describes the squalid urban environment in which the family lives. The novel was rediscovered in the late 1950s and early '60s and came to be viewed both as an important proletarian novel of the 1930s and as a classic of Jewish-American literature








[book] Leviathan (Der Leviathan, 1940)
Joseph Roth



Belatedly recognized in this country, but long acclaimed in Europe for such brilliant, classic novels as The Radetzky March, Roth died in 1939 in the early days of WWII. The 17 stories in this collection display his diverse but sometimes erratic talent. In the early entries, Roth paints his plots and characters in short, broad strokes, a trait leading to abrupt, unpredictable plot twists that occasionally blur the effect of his shorter works. When he stretches out and delves into the irony and humor of European life, however, his narratives acquire considerable resonance. "Station Fallmerayer," written in 1933, is a heartrending account of an Austrian station master who becomes obsessed with a Russian countess he rescues from a train wreck, despite the effects his pursuit has on their respective marriages. "The Triumph of Beauty" works on a different level as Roth explores the impact of an attractive, fickle hypochondriac on her beleaguered husband. Several other narratives extend to novella length, and the collection also contains works that were intended as blueprints for novels, such as the vividly evocative, elegiac "Strawberries." His penultimate achievement, "The Leviathan," tells of a coral merchant preoccupied with the mystery of the sea, who falls for the lure of selling fake merchandise, only to join his precious original wares in the watery depths. This collection marks the first time Roth's short fiction (some of which came to light only recently) has been available in English, and although a few of these stories are immature early works, taken together they testify to the talents of a writer who was penetratingly prescient about the tragedies that marred the 20th century.




[book] The Counterlife (1986)
Philip Roth








[book] Patrimony (1991)
Philip Roth



The best-selling author offers his observations on the physical decline and death of his own father, in a memoir that captures the loving relationship between father and son. Roth chronicles the life of his father, Herman, in this gripping work which won a 1991 National Book Critics Circle Award. Roth holds little back in describing his father as a man of rare intensity and fierce independence who, for better or worse, stood by his principles and held others to his own rigorous standards. Writes Roth, "His obsessive stubbornness--his stubborn obsessiveness--had very nearly driven my mother to a breakdown in her final years." Frank throughout, Roth calls his father "a pitiless realist, but I wasn't his offspring for nothing, and I could be pretty realistic, too."






[book] The Street of Crocodiles (Sklepy cynamonowe, 1934)
Bruno Schulz










[book] In Dreams Begin Responsibilities (1938)
Delmore Schwartz












[book] The Centaur in the Garden (1980)
Moacyr Scliar








[book] Past Continuous (Zikhron Devarim, 1977)
Yaakov Shabtai








[book cover art click me] The Blue Mountain (Roman rusi, 1988)
Meir Shalev








[book] The Jewish Government and Other Stories (1971)
Lamed Shapiro








[book] Menakhem-Mendl and Mottel Peyse the Cantor's Son (Menakhem-Mendl, Mottel Peyse dem khazns, 1909)
Sholem Aleichem










[book] Tevye the Dairyman (Tevye der milkhiger, 1895-1914)
Sholem Aleichem



A superb introduction to the caustic wit and keen observations of one of the world's greatest storytellers. Included are "Tevye the Dairyman, " his masterpiece and the basis for Fiddler on the Roof, and all 21 Railroad Stories, in which human nature and the various shocks of modernity are perceived by men and women riding the trains from shtetl to shtetl.








[book] Fables (Mesholim, 1932)
Eliezer Shteynbarg












[book] The Brothers Ashkenazi (Di brider ashkenazi, 1937)
Israel JOSHUA Singer










[book] Satan in Goray (Sotn in goray, 1935)
Isaac Bashevis Singer










[book] The Collected Stories (1953)
Isaac Bashevis Singer












[book] Maus: A Survivor's Tale (1986)
Art Spiegelman












[book] As a Driven Leaf (1939)
Milton Steinberg



The magnificent work of modern fiction that brings the age of the Talmud to life. The characters include the well-known historical figures: Akiba, Yohanan, Joshua, Eleazar, Beruriah, and Elisha ben Abuyah, whose struggle to live in two worlds destroyed his chance to live in either




[book] The Collected Poems of Abraham Sutzkever (1991)
Abraham Sutzkever



The work of A. Sutzkever, one of the major twentieth-century masters of verse and the last of the great Yiddish poets, is presented to the English reader in this banquet of poetry, narrative verse, and poetic fiction. Sutzkever's imposing body of work links images from Israel's present and past with the extinction of the Jews of Europe and with deeply personal reflection on human existence. In Sutzkever's poetry the Yiddish language attains a refinement, richness of sound, and complexity of meaning unknown before. His poetry has been translated into many languages, but this is the most comprehensive presentation of his work in English. Benjamin Harshav provides a biography of the poet and a critical assessment of his writings in the context of his times. The illustrations were originally created for Sutzkever's work by such artists as Marc Chagall, Yosl Bergner, Mane-Katz, Yankl Adler, and Reuven Rubin.






Selected Poems
Saul Tchernikhovsky










[book] The Investigation (Die Ermittlung, 1965)
Peter Weiss










[book] Night (1958)
Elie Wiesel










[book] Five Seasons (Molkho, 1987)
A.B. Yehoshua










The Days of Ziklag (Yemei Ziklag, 1958)
S. Yizhar










Selected Poetry
Natan Zakh












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