Centuries of Jewish life
The Jewish World: 365 Days is a compact, weighty tome that cries out for a coffee table. It, too, is organized around the idea of a year: 365 exquisite items from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem pace themselves from January to December. More than a catalog of accoutrements, this is visual testimony from centuries of sacred and secular lives: books, textiles, interiors, jewelry, pottery, manuscripts, paintings, clothing, toys and much more. Culled from one of the world's finest collections, it lives up to its goal as "a celebration of Jewish life throughout the ages." Life throughout many lands is celebrated as well, because Jewish people, with no nation of their own from 70 AD to 1938, have dispersed throughout the world, adapting ancient traditions within host cultures. Thus, for example, will be found Sabbath lamps from Yemen, herb bags from Afghanistan and even a woodcut from a 1713 Amsterdam edition of The Book of Customs, an earlier incarnation of the new book described above. Joanna Brichetto is a graduate student in Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University who longs for sassy wit and hip hindsight.