Daniel M. Jaffe

The Genealogy of Understanding

Matt Klein, a contemporary Jewish Scheherazade, questions whether Torah can illuminate and guide responses to such issues as intermarriage, infidelity, homophobic prejudice, and the onset of dementia, all of which threaten to splinter families in the suburban New Jersey community of his upbringing. Each of the 53 stories in this novel responds to a particular weekly Torah reading, resulting in a work of fiction that explores Jewish spirituality, ethics, and community values, as well as the nature of human heart, mind, and soul.

The Genealogy of Understanding was a Finalist for the 2014 Rainbow Awards, which granted the book an Honorable Mention. One of the judges described the book as a "series of intricately connected short stories, each one a shining gem of human experience. The stories are beautifully written, imaginatively arranged, and spiritually and emotionally rich. A collection to be savored."

Readers' reactions:

"Jaffe is a marvelous storyteller.... The characters are sensitively drawn and come to life in his hands." Amy Scheinerman for Congregational Libraries Today.

"What’s amazing about 'The Genealogy of Understanding' is how powerful these stories are, even those that are only a few pages long. The stories...will inspire readers with their wisdom." Rabbi Rachel Esserman, The Reporter.

"...a unique approach to Torah study....an excellent choice for book clubs...." Association of Jewish Libraries.

Selected Works

Daniel's newest novel follows a teenager's struggle to integrate his gay and Jewish identities. Can he be true to his desires while still being a good Jew?
In this novel-in-stories, the narrator explores different ways of adapting Jewish tradition to the modern world.
Daniel's short story collection examines many aspects of contemporary gay-Jewish life.
A year after the death of his Holocaust-surviving grandmother, Dave Miller leaves Boston for Amsterdam, the home of Anne Frank, whom his Grandma revered. Dave, feeling undeserving to confront the suffering that Grandma endured, cannot bring himself to visit Anne Frank's house. Angry at himself and the world, Dave seeks out risky erotic trysts that mix sacred ritual with profane hedonism. Then he meets Alexander, a sexually reserved Dutchman of Indonesian heritage, who has identity conflicts of his own. The relationship shakes both men's lives to their core.

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