Ohr Hashachar Book Launch

September 1, 2014

We are pleased to announce that Ohr HaShachar is now available.OhrHaShachar

Ohr HaShachar is an in-depth commentary in English on Birchot HaShachar (the morning blessings), published by Urim Publications. It’s more than a commentary actually – this is a “machshava” sefer, a philosophical work on Judaism, containing novel approaches to a host of central concepts in Torah.

This Thursday the author, David Bar Cohn, will be hosting a book launch at his home.

Books will be available for purchase.

Light nosh will be served.

Place: 2/1 Nachal Alexander, Ramat Beit Shemesh-A
Date: Thurs, Sept 4, 2014
Time: 8:30 – 9:30pm

You can see a preview of the book online: http://www.barcohn.com.

 


New preview of Ohr HaShachar

August 31, 2014

Ohr Hashahar is an in-depth commentary on the morning blessings and their underlying concepts. It covers Modeh AOhrHaShacharni, Netilat Yadayim, Asher Yatzar, Elokai Neshama, Birchot HaTorah, and the fifteen blessings of Birchot HaShachar. The “Preview Edition” features samples from selected chapters. The full book is available at http://www.UrimPublications.com as well as Amazon.com.

To see a special preview of our new book, Ohr Hashachar by David Bar-Cohn, click here.


Will Our Boys Fight Again?

August 17, 2014

The world has not yet forgiven the Jews for the Holocaust. Yet Israel can survive – and this is the paradox of its reality – as long as it insists on its vocation of uniqueness.For the Love of Israel and the Jewish People

By Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Throughout the centuries, historians, philosophers and anthropologists have struggled with the concept called “Israel” more than with nearly any other idea.

While attempting to place Israel within the confines of conventional history, they experienced constant academic and philosophical frustration. Any definitions they suggested eventually broke down due to significant inconsistencies.

Was Israel a nation, a religion, or an altogether mysterious entity that would forever remain unexplainable? By some, it was seen less as a nation and more as a religion; others believed the reverse to be true. And then there were those who claimed that it did not fall into either of these categories.

In fact, it was clear to everyone that “Israel” did not fit into any specific framework or known scheme. It resisted all historical concepts and generalities.

Its uniqueness thwarted people’s natural desire for a definition, which can be alarming and terribly disturbing.

This fact became even more obvious once Titus the Roman forced the Jews out of their country, and specifically after the collapse of the Bar Kochba rebellion.

It was then that the Jew was hurled into the abyss of the nations of the world, and has since been confronted with a new condition: ongoing insecurity.

While mankind has always faced moments of insecurity, it is the Jews who have been denied even the smallest share of the dubious security that others possess. Whether Jews were aware of it or not, they always lived on ground that could, at any moment, give way beneath their feet.

In 1948, Israel once again became a country – but many forgot that it was not only a country. All the other dimensions, such as nationhood, religion, mystery, insecurity and lack of definition continued to exist. The people of Israel today do not find themselves exclusively in the Land of Israel, and instead of one Israel, the world now has two.

Yet the second, new Israel has until now been seen as responding to the demands of history, geography, politics and journalism. One knows where it is; at least, one thinks one does. But it becomes increasingly clear that this new and definable Israel has already become as much a puzzling and perplexing entity as the old Israel always was.

Throughout its short history, the State of Israel has experienced the most inexplicable events modern man has ever seen. After an exile of nearly 2,000 years, during which the old Israel was able to survive against all historical odds, it returned to its homeland. There it found itself surrounded by a massive Arab population that was and is incapable of making peace with the idea that this small and peculiar nation lives among them. After having suffered a Holocaust in which it lost six million of its members, it was not permitted to live a life of tranquility on its tiny piece of land. Once again, the Jew was denied the right to feel at home in his own country.
Read the rest of this entry »


Kaddish Review in Hakira

August 4, 2014

by Joel B. Wolowelsky

This anthology speaks to women who are considering acting on the permissibility of saying Kaddish.Kaddish: Womens Voices But it also speaks to those living in a community where no women say Kaddish-where (aided by a sensationalist-seeking press) the image of women saying Kaddish is that of the Women of the Wall protesting at the Kotel wearing talit and tefilin. It helps them understand how halakhic authorities of the first order actually did permit it-because in these communities a woman wanting to say Kaddish is no different from her wanting to eat in a sukkah. She does so not “to be like a man,” but to be like a member of the family now able, because of unprecedented increased opportunities in Jewish education, to more fully participate in the traditional mourner’s expression of grief and loss. Indeed, the reminiscences in this anthology generally give poignant testimony to Eisenberg’s portrayal of the women’s motivation to say Kaddish. These are not the Women of the Wall engaged in a public protest to challenge halakhic norms. These are simply heartbroken mourners using a time-honored and legitimate norm to confront and express their grief. This will no doubt come as a surprise to some people.

The anthology also gives the opportunity to hear of the pain some experienced when their motives were wrongly denigrated.

 Once, the tenth man in a Mincha minyan-a personal acquaintance of mine-walked out just as Kaddish was starting, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to say Kaddish as a result. My internal struggle to be kind and understanding vs. feeling angry and resentful was a serious challenge at times (217).

Once, I had a rather toxic experience, ironically at the school that I was running. When it came time for Kaddish at a Maariv minyan, after an evening event for families, I joined in. I heard murmurs and whispers from the men’s section and could feel eyes piercing through me. When I mustered up the courage, I looked up. Jaws were dropped. Some men left the room, asking whether this was a school for Reform Rabbis. I have never felt more humiliated as a member of the Orthodox community than during the time that I said Kaddish for my mother (141).

We were going to Atlantic City. I knew there was an Orthodox community near our hotel, and I called the rabbi to ask where I could find a minyan the next morning. He told me, “There is none.” I asked about the yeshiva high school and he said, “No.” I asked if he knew where I could go to say Kaddish, and he answered: “Why don’t you call the Conservative rabbi?” I’m sure if my husband had called him to find a minyan, he would have had no problem. I did call the Conservative rabbi, and he was so nice! He told me he would make a mechitza for me and have a minyan. I went the next morning and was relieved and honored that he went out of his way for me (112).

Read the rest of this entry »


One Rabbi’s Take on Israel

July 23, 2014

By Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz To Unify a Nation

MK Rabbi Dov Lipman has an amazing story. He was raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, became a rabbi and educator, made Aliyah, and became the first American-born Knesset member in decades. Even more remarkable, he has quickly become a symbol for bridge building. In his early 40s, he represents a broad vision for what Israel could be.

His new book, To Unify a Nation: My Vision for the Future of Israel is a must read for all concerned with the future of Israel. Less than 100 pages, the book can be read in just an hour or two. Significantly, President Shimon Peres wrote the opening statement, and Yesh Atid party founder Yair Lapid wrote the Foreword.

While Lipman comes from an ultra-Orthodox background and is an Orthodox rabbi, he offers a breath of fresh air when he suggests that “polarization caused by extremism and isolationism in the religious community may be the greatest internal threat to the future of the Jewish people” (16). In fact, it was on the streets of Bet Shemesh that he emerged in Israeli leadership. Many Israelis were horrified in 2011 when an 8-year-old Modern Orthodox girl was called a “whore” and spat upon while she walked to school, allegedly because her dress was not modest enough for the ultra-Orthodox. The terrified girl said that she was “so scared…that they were going to stand and start yelling and spitting.” Rabbi Lipman stood up to protect the girls against the abuse. Rabbi Lipman also speaks out against religious coercion in Israel, seeks to build bridges between the religious and secular, advocates for the Ethiopian community and for the African refuges, seeks to transition the ultra-Orthodox into the army and workforce, advocates for vegetarianism and animal welfare, speaks out against corruption, argues for women’s rights, a pluralistic society. Read the rest of this entry »


Review of Moses and the Path to Leadership

July 21, 2014

by Gad DishiMosesWeb2

Grumet’s new book, Moses and the Path to Leadership, joins an ever growing library of works utilizing close readings and other literary tools from the field of biblical studies to highlight the timeless messages embedded in the text. Grumet brings an array of modern sources that pertain to leadership development and success and weaves these throughout his analysis.

The book focuses on the leadership qualities, or lack thereof, of Moses and how certain leadership characteristics developed over the course of his career. As Grumet lays out in his closing timeline, the main prongs of focused study revolve around Moses’ leadership being people-focused or God-focused, the use or misuse of his zealotry and Moses’ management, leadership and vision of and for the nation.

For example, Grumet begins by noting how Moses is first portrayed as a zealot when he kills the Egyptian smiting a Jew. The negative result of Pharaoh wanting to kill him impacts Moses’ hotheadedness when he flees to Midian. There, his zealotry is moderated as Moses deals with the foreign bullying shepherds without violence. While in Midian, Moses’ zealotry is further tamed as Moses retreats from public life and shepherds Jethro’s flocks. For the reader, this clearly foreshadows his future role as leader of the people. However, for Moses, this served as an avenue to control his zealousness by quarantining himself away from anything that might flare his anger.  Read the rest of this entry »


Review of The Mystery Of The Milton Manuscript

July 18, 2014

by Harriet KlausnerMilton

The senseless death of his Hertford College, Oxford thesis advisor Thornton Livingston leaves American Ph.D. candidate Keith Jessup stunned.  Keith was in attendance to hear the late Early English Literature department Chair provide a lecture, “Secrets of the Milton Manuscript” based on a recently discovered document that explained the great poet’s underlying reason for writing Paradise Lost.  Now at the morgue the grieving student identifies the corpse who fell from a cliff.  A security guard also was killed; a B&E occurred at the professor’s office; and his lecture missing.   Adding to the student’s shock is he inherited Thornton’s estate.

A few months later, now Dr. Jessup is back in New York when Columbia University Professor Stanton disappears just before presenting “The Disclosure of the Milton Manuscript” lecture.  As Keith continues to search for the missing document, threats to him and his girlfriend art restorer Joanne Farnsworth mount.

This is a fabulous mystery that is at its best with the deep look into Milton, his beliefs, his era and his masterpieces.  The murders of scholars and the assaults on the present day hero add action and suspense, but also detract from the incredible captivating depth into the life and times of John Milton.

This review originally appears in The Mystery Gazette.


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