To Mourn a Child Discussion Evening (Full Audio)


The OU Press held a Discussion Evening in honor of the publication of To Mourn A Child: Jewish Responses to Neonatal and Childhood Death on March 20.


Welcome and Introduction:
Rabbi Jeffrey Saks | Director, ATID/, Co-Editor

Panel Discussion of essayists:
Moderator: Rabbi David Fine | Dean, Barkai Center for Practical Rabbinics
Dr. Benjamin Corn | Professor of Oncology, Tel Aviv University, Founder and Executive Chairman, Life’s Door-Tishkofet
Drs. Dassi and Dan Jacobson | Psychologists in private practice
Mrs. Yonit Rothchild | Author and writer

Book Review: Illegal Journey by Edgar Miskin

From the Life in Israel blogIllegalJourneyWeb2

Illegal Journey is a historical novel, which in my book is an immediate plus. You get to read an enjoyable story while learning about a point in history at the same time. And when the book is written well, when the history is portrayed and the story is riveting, then it is just a great book. As is Illegal Journey.

Illegal Journey is set in Europe, Palestine and eventually Israel. It describes, through its story, the history of illegal immigration from post-war Europe into Palestine. While I am not aware of this story actually having happened – as far as I can tell it is fiction – but it does show what the Jewish survivors of the concentration camps had to go through to get to Palestine, and how they were often turned away by the British.

In Illegal Journey, a gentile in Switzerland becomes aware of a group of Jews in a hospital recovering from what they suffered in the concentration camps. He was so shocked by what he saw that he “adopted” this group and found ways to help them. Eventually this led to his devising a plan to help them sneak into Palestine. Peters drops everything and commits himself completely to this project and becomes very close with the entire group. He even decides to join them in going to Palestine, and so he does.

I don’t want to give away much of the story, because while it is a historical novel, it is also Continue reading “Book Review: Illegal Journey by Edgar Miskin”

Kaddish, From A Woman’s Perspective

By Sandee Brawarsky kaddishWomensVoicesWeb2

In many a shiva house, books of consolation and Jewish ritual are as ubiquitous as archival photos and cellophane-wrapped platters of food. You’re likely to find Leon Wieseltier’s “Kaddish,” Rabbi Maurice Lamm’s “The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning” and perhaps Rabbi Richard Hirsh’s “The Journey of Mourning.” A new book by Michal Smart and Barbara Ashkenas, “Kaddish, Women’s Voices” (Urim) belongs on the table.

Smart and Ashkenas have assembled a sisterhood of articulate mourners, 52 women who contribute essays about their experience saying Kaddish. These are women who’ve committed to saying Kaddish regularly with a minyan over the course of 11 months.  While many women from Conservative and Reform backgrounds have taken on the obligation and are counted in the minyan, Orthodox women who choose to say Kaddish are still pioneers in many synagogue settings.

In a quote on the book jacket, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin points out that the late Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik ruled that women may recite the Mourner’s Kaddish from the women’s section of the synagogue — even if she is the only one saying it.

Earlier this month, “Kaddish, Women’s Voices” was awarded a 2013 National Jewish Book Award in Contemporary Jewish Life.

In an interview, Ashkenas, an artist and educator, explains that she began thinking about a book like this while she was in mourning and saying Kaddish at her Orthodox synagogue — she realized that there wasn’t a book from a woman’s perspective. When she mentioned the idea to friends and family, they encouraged her to put together a book of women’s stories. At their first meeting to talk about the possibility of collaborating on the project, Ashkenas and Smart met at a café and heard Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” playing in the background — they discovered that the song was played at Ashkenas’s mother’s and Smart’s father’s funerals. They then brought together a dozen women who had experienced mourning, and began planning the book.

“Loss was the currency of intimacy,” Ashkenas explains.

When they began, the editors thought of the book as geared to Orthodox women, but opened it up to some non-Orthodox voices as well, including a Reform rabbi, as they thought the subject could have wider appeal.

Smart, who teaches widely on Jewish texts and philosophy and pioneered Jewish environmental education, says that when she got started, she expected the essays to be about saying Kaddish. But she was Continue reading “Kaddish, From A Woman’s Perspective”

To Mourn a Child Discussion Evening at the OU Center

tomournachildThe OU Press invites you to a discussion evening in honor of the publication of:

To Mourn a Child: Jewish Responses to Neonatal and Childhood Death

March 20, 2014/18 Adar II 5774
8:00 p.m.
OU Israel Center, 22 Keren Hayesod Street, Jerusalem

With a panel of experts and essayists on the subject, and with an introduction by editor Rabbi Jeffrey Sacks.

Click here for more information.