A Review of Siddur Nehalel BeShabbat

by Sue Epstein, Voices MagazineNehalel

We all have our siddurim, but Nehalel beShabbat (Nusach Ashkenaz. Published by Nevarech. English translation by Michael Haruni, distributed by Urim & Ktav, January 2013, $29.95) is the new siddur on the block and you’re going to want it when you see it. A modern, yet strictly traditional siddur, it is modeled on the beautiful Nevarech bencher. The traditional Hebrew text is set in very readable print, the translations  and  the photographs juxtaposed with the text gives great meaning to it and to the stark awareness of the spirituality to Zionism.

This is not simply a siddur filled with pretty pictures.  To give you an example, the bracha, “ברןך אתה …המכין מצעדי גבר” is translated “You are blessed, Hashem our God… who engineers the stride of man. The accompanying photographs directing you to the meaning of the prayer are those of a
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A Review of A Neuropsychologist’s Journal

by Dr. Batya L. LudmanA Neuropsychologist's Journal

I was recently invited to review A Neuropsychologist’s Journal: Interventions and “Judi-isms.” Normally this wouldn’t take me long as I would get the gist of the book by quickly skimming through it. Instead I found myself engrossed in reading this book word by word, cover to cover. The short chapters had me hungrily turning the 459 pages for more, and at times, I just could not put it down.

Now, I must admit, I am acquainted with Dr. Guedalia’s work as we are professional colleagues and I have heard her speak on numerous occasions, and, as I read her book I could almost feel her presence because her writing style manages to capture the essence of who she is, both as a person and a professional. This makes the book enjoyable for both the professional and lay reader alike.

Dr. Guedalia, in describing the American psychiatrist Milton H. Erickson’s approach (p. 83) captures her own style as well: “For [Milton] Erikson, the unconscious mind was creative, solution-generating, and often positive. But more than anything else, his ability to ‘utilize’ anything about a patient to help them change, including their beliefs, favorite words, cultural background, personal history, or even their neurotic habits, fit with my ideas of the goals of therapy: to help my patients solve problems, achieve goals, and change their behavior.” This is what she shows us in this book.

Dr. Guedalia wears many hats. The head of neuropsychology at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, she brings us into her life – whether as a member of the hospital’s emergency response team, while conversing with Chaim K (a respirator dependent quadriplegic man who co-authors her column for The Jewish Press), winning an award, or as an eshet chayil around her Shabbat table.

We gain insight into Guedalia’s world through her little “Judi-isms,” Continue reading “A Review of A Neuropsychologist’s Journal

Review of Let My RV Go!

letmyrvgoJust in time for the Pesach season, Mosaica Press released Let My RV Go!, by Nicole (Nathan) Bem. In their words, “Let My RV Go is an honest, humorous and refreshing account of one woman’s search for meaning—even if it requires turning her life upside down and tearing out the kitchen sink.”

Like the other Mosaica books, Let My RV Go, is a smooth read. The cover, title and story line comes together well. The layout and fonts are clear and pleasing to the eye.

I would say that the book is perfect for younger women who are either on their way Baalei Teshuva, already BT or are involved in the BT world.

I felt that the reference to movie characters and characters watching movies gave the book a non-yeshivish tone that BT or more MO person might davka enjoy and very much appreciate that comfort level.

LMRG has a glossary and also explains most of the “Jewish” words as they appear. That allows for a greater secular audience. It also references various parts of the Jewish American culture, ie the Bubby and her cooking, which is easy to relate to.

Personally, I enjoyed reading the book with its variety and light style.

LMRG is a novel that is an easy, upbeat read. I would definitely be interested in reading more from Nicole Bem, the author.

This review first appeared on the Jewish Joy Reading blog.

Praise for the Nehalel Siddur

From Jewish Moms:Nehalel

“Wow, look at this, isn’t this AMAZING?” This sentence was repeated over and over in the Weisberg home this past Shabbat as my daughters and I oohed and aahed over this unprecedented and stunning new siddur– with inspiring photos interspersed throughout the words of prayer in order to add deeper meaning and understanding to our prayers. An amazing present, I think, for yourself or for a simcha. Check out this link to check out some breathtaking page samples.

Herod: A Review

by Miriam Bradman AbrahamsHerod The Man Who Had To Be King

This long, colorful, and detailed novel follows the rise of Herod from his time as governor of the Galilee until he became king of Judaea.  The author’s extensive research provides us with a readable version of historic events from over 2,000 years ago in Judea, Samaria, Babylonia, Parthia, Syria, Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch.  We learn about the workings of the Temple, the role of the high priest and the Sanhedrin and their complicated interactions with the Roman government.  Herod, referred to by the Jews as “a pagan Idumean,” is from a family of forced converts, and was regarded as an outsider.  Herod is depicted as resentful, clever, moody, and dangerous, constantly plotting his next move up the political ladder.  The author provides fictional dialogue elucidating discussions among Roman rulers and Jewish leaders, and private conversations between the main characters and their family members.  The various intrigues read like fascinating melodrama.  Julius Caesar, Sextus Caesar, Cassius, Antony, and Cleopatra all have starring roles.  Infighting among the Jews pits Hyrcanus, the Hasmonean Ethnarch, against his nephew Antigonus, who wants to seize his throne and priesthood.  The solution proposed by Herod is for himself to marry Alexandra’s daughter Mariamne, thereby consolidating power.  What happens next?  If you enjoy historical fiction, this is definitely a book to add to your reading list.  Preface and afterword included by Malka Hillel-Shulewitz who “added the finishing touches” and published the book after her husband, Yehuda, passed away.

This review first appeared in Jewish Book World

A Review of Women and Men In Communal Prayer: Halakhic Perspectives

womenandmenincommunalby Rabbi Louis Rieser

Change in the Orthodox world is accompanied by legal (halakhic) debates measuring the boundaries of permissible behavior. Women and Men in Communal Prayer presents one such debate, calling women to recite blessings over the Torah reading during a public service.

Orthodox prayer services separate men and women, and the public roles open to women are restricted. In recent years these boundaries have been tested and changes are taking place. The outside world sees only the results; this volume opens a window on the process.

The book includes an informative introduction, two major position papers on the question of women being called to the Torah, and two pointed rebuttals. The papers are detailed, laying out the issues, tracing the debates, and exploring the implications of their own positions. They touch on a range of related issues as they consider such basic halakhic categories as the honor due to the congregation and the honor due to an individual.

For the Orthodox reader, this book is a gem. For the rest of us it is an opportunity to understand a world that is otherwise closed to us. While the debate is particular to the Orthodox world, the ethical issues hold broader interest.

This review first appeared in Congregational Libraries Today

Men and Women in the Torah

by Dr. Bryna LevymenandwomenintheTorahWeb1

Men and Women in The Torah is an encyclopedic survey of the biblical characters from Adam and Eve through Zimri and Cozbi. Rabbi Shlomo Wexler has woven an intricate and elegant tapestry of texts from Torah, Neviim, and Ketuvim together with a vast array of rabbinic literature. In so doing, Rabbi Wexler has highlighted the seventy facets of biblical interpretation that enhance our understanding of each personality. In addition, he has masterfully sculpted the heroes and heroines of the Torah to serve as inspirational role models for all times.