The Kosher Bookworm: Yes, It’s Rosh Hashanah, Again

by Alan Jay Gerber

Yes indeed, it is Rosh Hashanah once again, and there are some really fine, high quality books for your continued learning pleasure.

To really understand the true meaning and feeling for the upcoming “Yimei Ratzon,” a close reading of some of the most authoritative teachings concerning this holy season is always in order. This year is no different, and by the time you finish with this essay, you will be inspired to read some of the selections suggested or revisit previous Kosher Bookworm reviews for even more choices.

Once again The Commentator strikes: Rabbi Yitzchak Sender’s latest work, The Commentators’ Rosh Hashanah: Prayers and Torah Reading [Feldheim, 2012] brings to our readers a 317 page anthology of original essays on the most important liturgical works found in the machzor, spanning the entire repertoire of the sacred writ of this season. Starting with the selichos prayers and spanning the entire liturgy, both the halachos as well as the deeper meanings of the text are subjected to the classic Commentators treatment. Through humor, anecdotes, and homiletics, we are brought face to face with the wisdom, inspiration, and profound ethical teachings whose purpose it is to bring us to appreciate the true logic and purpose of the concept and practice of real, heartfelt teshuvah.

Dr. Erica Brown, that educator of educators, has once again brought to our homes a unique, and quite original work entitled, Return: Daily Inspiration For The Days Of Awe [OU Press/Maggid, 2012] wherein, by using the calendar based technique of the ten days of repentance, presents for our use a daily discipline of readings based upon a series of Al Chet selections, with each day headed by a differing ethical theme. These themes include faith, destiny, humility, compassion, anger, honesty, and holiness.

Drawing upon a plethora of literary sources, her multi-cultural presentment gives our time honored themes of teshuva a unique and most relevant meaning for all Jews seriously interested in the deeper theological, as well as practical meanings, of what the concept of repentance should mean to all of us. This work is a true supplement to that great work by Rabbi Ezra Bick, In His Mercy: Understanding the Thirteen Midot [Maggid/Yeshivat Har Etzion, 2010]. Also, to be referenced from a previous review, is Dr. Louis Newman’s work, Repentance: The Meaning and Practice of Teshuvah, [Jewish Lights, 2010]. Also it should be noted within this same literary genre, is Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski’s now classic Twerski on Machzor: Rosh Hashanah [Artscroll, 2011, 2012], a supplement now in its second printing, and most deservedly so.

In addition, we have a second volume of Rabbi Moshe Weinberger’s excellent commentary on Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook’s Orot Teshuvah, Song of Teshuvah [Urim/ Penina Press, 2012] Continue reading “The Kosher Bookworm: Yes, It’s Rosh Hashanah, Again”

Book Launch of ReReading Israel: The Spirit of the Matter!

Don’t miss our book launch event – live music, provocative study, stimulating conversation, inspiring ideas

 ReReading Israel: The Spirit of the Matter by Bonna Devora Haberman

Saturday night, September 29th, 8:30 pm

10 HaGadna Street – enter via the black gate, Old Katamon, Jerusalem

Please RSVP to the Lawrences via

telephone: 052 346-0846 or


Please dress warmly – we’ll be outside in the garden.

The book will be available for 72₪ =  $18.

We look forward to sharing this work together.

Bonna Devora Haberman


Rabbis Shuchat, Father and Son, Launch New Books

by Canadian Jewish News Staff

Father and son rabbis Wilfred and Raphael Shuchat were to jointly launch their new books at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim the evening of Slichot, September 8.

The elder Shuchat, 92, rabbi emeritus of the Shaar, has published Noah, The Flood and the Failure of Man, the third in his series on the interpretations of the sages of the Midrash Rabbah.

His son, Rabbi Raphael Shuchat, a lecturer in Jewish philosophy and mysticism at Bar-Ilan University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has published Jewish Faith in a Changing World: A Modern Introduction to the World and Ideas of Classical Jewish Philosophy.

In Noah, the elder Rabbi Shuchat writes that, although the biblical figure was chosen by God to save humanity, the sages have some reservations about his character. “[Noah] seems to be a saintly man with many flaws,” the author writes. Continue reading “Rabbis Shuchat, Father and Son, Launch New Books”

Herod: The Man Who Had to be King

We may well wonder what in an historical novel is fictional and what fact.  In Herod, we may be assured that, although the reader does indeed become familiar with the characters of the tragic period about a hundred years before the Temple was destroyed and before mighty Rome became a subject for history books, the author was adamant in maintaining accuracy.

Yehuda Shulewitz was a respected historian and intellectual.  Born in the United States, he made aliyah in 1947 and worked as Editor of English Economics Publications for the Bank of Israel.  He wrote Herod when he retired and almost finished it before he passed away.  His wife, Malka Hillel Shulewitz, an author in her own right and an activist for Jewish refugees expelled from Arab lands, completed his work.

Herod is the story of the conflict between Herod, Rome and the Jewish people that takes the reader from the Land of Israel and Jerusalem to the bustle of Rome and the colorful thoroughfares of Alexandria, from Syria to the heart of the Parthian empire, to Babylonia, Idumea and Antioch.  It presents a vast panorama of the Mediterranean region of some two thousand years ago, bringing to life the Great Sages, the High Priest and the Temple service.  We meet Alexandra, the proud Hasmonean and her children and Antigonus, another Hasmonean, contender for the throne of Judea and a bitter enemy of Herod.  We get to know Herod, the devoted family man of malevolent moods for whom no challenge was too great or too bloody to reach his goal.

This review appeared in the “Editor’s Choice” section of Emunah Magazine.