Iraq, US in Talks over Fate of Jewish Archives

May 20, 2010

Iraq is negotiating with U.S. authorities for the return of millions of documents, including a stash of rare Hebrew-language books and parchments found in a flooded basement by American troops after the 2003 invasion, Iraqi officials said Thursday.

A high-level Iraqi delegation visited the U.S. last week to discuss bringing the documents back to Baghdad. The documents include an extensive collection referred to as the Iraqi Jewish Archive, as well as records and files belonging to Saddam Hussein’s disbanded Baath Party and security services.

from The Canadian Press


Jewish Media Review on Shabbat: The Right Way

May 18, 2010

Shabbat: The Right Way

Shabbat: The Right Way

by Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins

How do rabbis arrive at the answers to questions?

Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen provides both the answers to questions on Shabbat observance and a look at the process by which the answers are derived. He also analyzes contemporary, controversial Shabbat issues such as the possibility for a Shabbat bus, women’s cosmetics, and the building of an Eruv. According to Rabbi Cohen, “Halachah, the distinctly unique Jewish legal system, crystallizes the guidelines of Judaism. It makes us into Jews and marks us as Jewish. As such, an understanding of the halachic process provides insight into the inner soul of Jewish life itself.” There are many books that address questions of Shabbat observance. Shabbat: The Right Way differs in that it provides definitive direction as well as openly sharing the analysis. For the person seeking to understand Jewish law, this book offers the opportunity to learn why Jews do certain things. For those already familiar with halachah, this book will serve as a springboard for deeper study, and all readers will come away with a sense of what is at the heart of Judaism.
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Vital Signs: Betting on Jewish Literacy

May 17, 2010

by Jack Wertheimer

Over the past three months I’ve published six essays in Jewish Ideas Daily on specific examples of people and programs that seem to me to offer welcome news—”Vital Signs”—for the future of American Jewish life. My list was hardly exhaustive; it could have been easily expanded to twice or perhaps even three times its size. Looking back now at my examples—a summer camp, a supplementary high school, a Hebrew-language initiative for young children, an adult-education program, a fellowship program for young community leaders, and a prayer group—I’m struck by the ubiquity of a leitmotif that, directly or indirectly, runs throughout all six.

That leitmotif, broadly put, is education. Nothing new about that, one might say; but one would be wrong. To be sure, Torah study has long been a core value of rabbinic Judaism. But for much of the past century, the people of the book in this country seem to have transferred their devotion almost exclusively to the secular domain, becoming authoritative students of every conceivable professional and academic discipline while for the most part remaining ignorant of the great texts of their own tradition, let alone of the Hebrew language. Only in our own time has the ground begun to shift.
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The Jewish Media Review on The Dawn of Redemption

May 14, 2010
The Dawn of Redemption

The Dawn of Redemption

by Dov Peretz Elkins, The Jewish Media Review

The Dawn of Redemption traces the Jewish concept of individual and communal Redemption through its cosmic antecedents to the role it plays in personal experiences and struggles. Drawing on classic sources, the author melds private experiences with historical forces, personal destiny and the Divine Plan, and shows how alienation and despair are transformed into exhilaration and closeness to God. Upon the canvas of the Biblical books of Ruth and Jonah, one finds in this psychological, philosophical, and spiritual investigation a profound restatement of the redemptive idea within Judaism and its potential to satisfy and uplift the life of every man and woman.

Meir Levin is a physician, Torah scholar, and teacher who lives in Monsey, NY. A former pulpit rabbi and a popular lecturer, he is an author of Novarodok: The Movement that Lived in Struggle and its Unique Approach to the Problem of Man (Jason-Aronson, NJ, 1996), With All Your Heart: The Shema in Jewish Worship, Practice and Life (Targum/Feldheim, 2002), and The Rabbis’ Advocate: Chacham David Nieto and the Second Kuzari (Yashar Books, 2006). Many of the essays in this book had been presented as a series on torah.org.


The Kosher Bookworm Reviews The Dawn of Redemption

May 13, 2010
The Dawn of Redemption

The Dawn of Redemption

by Alan Jay Gerber

The reading of the Book of Ruth is one of the central events of the Shavuot festival. Inasmuch as this holiday commemorates the birth and passing of King David, this reading teaches us about the life and travails of David’s great-great-grandmother, Ruth.

Rabbi Dr. Meir Levin composed a fascinating commentary on the Book of Ruth. Titled The Dawn of Redemption (Urim, 2009), the work highlights, in a mature and sophisticated manner, the entire saga, though it absents some of the more legendary aspects that have placed the work into question, both historically and theologically.

The historical value and perspective can best be demonstrated by the following observations of Dr. Levin.
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Taking Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs

May 13, 2010
Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Torah Sage and General

Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Torah Sage and General

from Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Torah Sage and General by Shalom Freedman

The war did not end for Rabbi Goren with the taking of Jerusalem. There were other holy places, including the Tomb of Rachel outside Bethlehem, and the Machpelah Cave, the Cave of the Patriarchs, in Hebron. Rabbi Goren was also to play key roles in the liberation of these two holy sites.

After the survey and meeting with Colonel Gur on the Temple Mount, Rabbi Goren left the Old City area. He set out in the direction of Bethlehem and Hebron only to find traffic stopped near the Talpiyot area, as there were suspected minefields ahead. He also encountered there a large force of soldiers, and was told it would be a great deal of time before the road opened. So he returned to headquarters. After a few hours, he returned to Talpiyot. The road was now open, but clogged with vehicles.
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Six Day War: Jerusalem Reunited

May 12, 2010
Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Torah Sage and General

Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Torah Sage and General

from Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Torah Sage and General by Shalom Freedman

In 1948, when the fighting between Arabs and Jews finished, the city of Jerusalem was left divided. The Temple Mount, the Western Wall, and the Jewish Quarter were in Arab hands. After 1948, the Jews of Israel could not cross the line and visit their most holy places. They could only climb to high places and look with longing across the divided city. During this time, Jordan was interested in developing its capital in Amman, and largely neglected Jerusalem. Jewish holy sites were desecrated, including the cemetery on the Mount of Olives.

It is safe to say that the great majority of the people of Israel during this time lived with a great longing in their heart, a longing to return to their most sacred places. In 1961, a Jerusalem-born paratroop commander named Mordechai Gur had a conversation with Rabbi Goren that would later turn out to be of historic significance. He told him of his plan, should there be an outbreak of fighting, to retake the Old City of Jerusalem. And he promised Rabbi Goren that he would be able to join with his forces should this take place.
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