Things Overheard in the Synagogue review

February 27, 2012

by Eli K.

This generation has witnessed a proliferation of Torah literature, from Halachic treatises to Biblical exegeses.  Yet despite the outpouring of Jewish religious books, there is a major vacuum in Orthodox literature – the absence of religious poetry.  Well, I am happy to tell you that a good friend of mine, Rabbi Ira Bedzow, has begun to fill that void.

In Things Overheard in the Synagogue, Rabbi Bedzow identifies religious, personal and social themes in a poetic style unparalleled in its ability to convey depth with simplicity.  Simple observations lead to complex introspection; natural feelings compel sophisticated reflections; and common conversations inspire philosophical insights.

Although titled Things Overheard in the Synagogue, this book encompasses things overheard in the street, in the home, and things not overheard at all, but residing in the private, active mind of the author.  The concept of memory is analyzed (page 32); social interactions are dissected (e.g. page 51); and Biblical passages come alive (e.g. page 16) as a range of human experience is expressed through the prism of a thoughtful religious scholar.

This book is sure to resonate with the thinking Orthodox Jew.  Some of Rabbi Bedzow’s emotions strike a common chord and express what many of us feel but are perhaps reluctant or unable to properly express.  Some of Rabbi Bedzow’s thoughts are novel and will catch the reader off guard.  But all of them are eloquent and enjoyable to read.

The Orthodox world is indebted to Rabbi Bedzow for retrieving a long-lost art in rabbinic literature.  I thought Orthodox poetry was dead, but, apparently, there is an individual valiantly attempting to resuscitate it.

This was posted on Provocative Perspectives.

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Stanley Fischman WABC radio podcast

February 26, 2012

Stanley Fischman, author of The Seven Steps to “Mentschhood”, was interviewed on the longest running program on WABC Radio 77, Religion on the Line, on February 12, 2012. Listen to the podcast from mark 90.


Shofar Journal review of An Italian Renaissance: Choosing Life in Canada

February 23, 2012

An Italian Renaissance: Choosing Life in Canada, by Robert Eli Rubinstein Jerusalem: Urim Publications, 2010. 177 pp. $24.95. ISBN 978-965-524-044-3.

Having suffered horrific personal losses in the Second World War, Bela Rubinstein and Judit Schwarcz decided that there was no future in Hungary, the land of their birth. Together with a few surviving relatives, they were able to escape just before the Communists sealed the borders. They were trapped in northern Italy, in a refugee camp for homeless Jews, for almost three years. This involuntary sojourn served the unintended but beneficial purpose of preparing Bela and Judit for their gradual return to normal life. Finally, an opportunity arose to immigrate to Canada, which ultimately proved to be a land of great blessing. The Rubinsteins established a home, raised a family, and integrated into the community. Along the way, they were able to reclaim the ancestral faith that had been ravaged in the death camps, and this imbued their lives with meaning and purpose. Yet sadly, despite this remarkable demonstration of human resilience, long-suppressed demons were to gain the upper hand as age-related infirmity eroded their painstakingly cultivated emotional fortitude.

– Shofar Journal (Summer 2011)


You are Invited to a Book Launch

February 22, 2012

Herod The Man Who Had to be King

An Historical Novel by
Yehuda Shulewitz ז”ל
Completed and Co-Edited by
Malka Hillel-Shulewitz
Published by Penina Press

Beit Avichai
44 King George St., Jerusalem
(ז’ אדר תשע”ב) Weds., Feb. 29, 2012
Reception & Refreshments from 5 p.m.
Program begins promptly at 5.45 p.m.

  • Introduction by Dr. Mordechai Nisan, Lecturer in Middle East Studies, Hebrew University, Jerusalem on The Relationship Between History and the Novel
  • Musical Interlude with the Kolot mei Ha’Olam Ensemble Arranged by Cyrelle Simon
  • Followed by Ezra Rosenfeld, Founder and Head of Tanach Tiyulim on How the Rabbis View Herod

Moderator: Malka Hillel-Shulewitz

We will be delighted by your presence.
Please let us know if you can join us.
RSVP to hazel.dobrin@gmail.com by 25.2.12
Entrance to parking below Beit Avichai, Keren Kayemet St.


Brave doc tells how religious community covers up abuse . . .

February 22, 2012

by Doreen Wachmann

Wachmann talks to an observant psychologist who lifts the lid on a previously taboo subject of abuse in the Orthodox world

MUCH has been written about abuse in the Catholic Church but less about that committed by Orthodox Jews and covered up by the religious establishment.

One man who has been brave enough to raise the lid on the Orthodox community’s tendency to protect the perpetrators of abuse rather than the victims is New York psychologist Dr Michael Salamon.

His courageous comments are made in his recently published book Abuse in the Jewish Community – Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims (published by Urim).

Revelations about abuse in the Catholic Church led to a torrent of abuse against the Church with many objecting to the Pope’s visit to Britain because of the issue.

But Dr Salamon, an Orthodox Jew, claims he is not a “charedi basher”.

He says: “I was born into a religious family. I grew up going to yeshiva.”

When asked whether he would describe himself as charedi, he said: “I hate religious labels. When I was growing up there were no distinctions. I still believe there should be no distinction.

“I guess people would refer to me as modern Orthodox. I and all my family went to very prestigious yeshivot. My wife Naomi also attended the Orthodox school system.”

Dr Salamon became interested in the subject of abuse in the Jewish community early in his career as a psychologist.

Cases of abuse in the Jewish community were referred to him 30 years ago when he was the only Orthodox person working in a clinic on research for the National Institute of Mental Health.

In one case a young woman in her late teens was abused by a close relative. But her Read the rest of this entry »


Book Review of Stages of Spiritual Growth

February 21, 2012

by Rachel Wizenfeld

For today’s Jew seeking to grow spiritually, there’s mussar, and then there is modern psychology. Armed with 20th century research on how behaviors develop and how humans create internal change, today’s Jewish do-gooder has an arsenal of tools beyond Pirkei Avos and the mussar masters to work on problems like, say, gossiping or overeating.

Many frum authors, notably Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski and Miriam Adahan, have blended mussar and modern psychology in their works.

Now, a new book takes this genre a step deeper – offering a serious and comprehensive approach to self-growth that includes deep Torah concepts, mussar applications and proven psychological realities.

Stages of Spiritual Growth: Resolving the Tension Between Self-expression and Submission to Divine Will, authored by Jerusalem-based teacher Batya Gallant, reads like a thoughtful, insightful class lecture, and is meant to be a manual for honing one’s spiritual essence throughout the decades of one’s life.

Gallant uses the text from an essay by R’ Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin (1823-1900) to develop a lifelong Torah-oriented approach towards spiritual growth for the reader, using her background in psychology to add insight, depth and practical applications.

The thesis of the book, drawn from R’ Tzadok’s essay, posits that spiritual growth follows a predictable sequence through the primary middos of chesed, gevurah and emes, roughly translated as Read the rest of this entry »


Author Joshua Golding at the YU Seforim Sale

February 19, 2012

Joshua Golding, author of The Conversation: A Novel will be signing books and speaking at the YU Seforim Sale on February 20, 2012 at 8:45 PM.