Kol Dodi Dofek: Confronting today’s reality

By Alan Jay GerberMajesty and Humility

This week, I shall focus on the legacy of a speech by the Rav, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik originally delivered in Yiddish before a gathering of the Religious Zionists of American in May 1956 on the occasion of the eighth anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. It was subsequently expanded upon, translated into Hebrew, and ultimately into English where it gained traction among many elements within the intellectual community of American Jewry.

The emotional heft inherent in its teachings, especially in the Rav’s perspective of the horrors of the Holocaust and the historic legacy of Jew hatred through the ages, has given this address (published as a book, “Kol Dodi Dofek: Listen, My Beloved Knocks,” KTAV Publishing House 2006) the richly deserved status of a Jewish theological class. This theological spin of the Rav’s work on this delicate subject was viewed by many serious scholars as a pivotal moment in the reality that Jews have come to face concerning the hostile world around them.

In his classic work, “Majesty and Humility” (Urim/OU Press, 2012), detailing the thoughts of the Rav, Rabbi Reuven Ziegler goes into great detail concerning the deeper meanings of “Kol Dodi Dofek.” In his review of this work by Rabbi Ziegler, the late Prof. Charles M. Raffel of Stern College wrote the following concerning Rabbi Ziegler’s treatment of the Rav’s teachings on this subject: Continue reading “Kol Dodi Dofek: Confronting today’s reality”

After the Holocaust the Bells Still Ring

Hays Media and Urim Publications are honored to announce the North America publication of of an important new memoir of the Holocaust from one of Bergen-Belsen’s last and youngest survivors,who would become a prominent American rabbi. 

Here is a compeAftertheHolocustWeb1lling book in which Joseph Polak confronts the events he and his family faced from 1943-53: the Holocaust and its sequel of shame and hiding.

Rabbi Polak attempts to portray the madness of an incomprehensible period and the irresponsible reaction of society that followed it. Neither God nor man emerges unscathed from this searing volume. Early critics suggest that this book constitutes the missing chapters of Anne Frank’s diary, had she but survived Bergen-Belsen to conclude her narrative. Continue reading “After the Holocaust the Bells Still Ring”

Book Launch of Tanakh, an Owner’s Manual


Book Launch and Annual Yahrtzeit Shiur in memory of Hannah and Joseph Sokolow

The Place of Megillat Esther in TANAKH

Monday March 2, 2015

7:30 pm

Lincoln Square Synagogue
180 Amsterdam Avenue
(at 68th Street)
2nd floor Beit Midrash

For more details, click here.

Review of Pioneers of Religious Zionism

By Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins

Pioneers of Religious Zionism describes the lives and philosophies of the most important rabbinical Zionists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: Yehuda ben Shlomo Alkalai (1798–1878), Zvi Hirsch Kalischer (1795–1874), Samuel Mohliver (1824–1891), Jacob Reines (1839–1915), Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935) and Judah Leib (Fishman) Maimon (1875–1962). They joined secular Zionists in the struggle for the re-establishment of a Jewish national home – an unusual act for their time – and had to contend with fierce opposition and condemnations from many rabbis in Eastern Europe, who believed that the return of the Jewish people to its ancestral homeland of Israel depended upon the arrival of the Messiah. In their lives and writings, Rabbis Alkali, Kalischer, Mohliver, Reines, Kook and Maimon provided the foundation on which modern religious Zionism was built. Continue reading “Review of Pioneers of Religious Zionism

On the Death (and Life) of Martin Gilbert

By Seth Mandel

Early in my career in Jewish journalism, I was working on a column about the ideological considerations of interwar Zionists’ appeals to Western leaders. Winston Churchill obviously figured in this story, and so I knew immediately the best person to reach out to for input: Martin Gilbert. His response to that inquiry always stuck with me, and it’s only added to the sadness of the news today that Gilbert has passed away.

I emailed Gilbert my question. He responded with a warm note and emailed me a digital copy of a page of his manuscript for his book Churchill and the Jews. The book was already published (indeed it was already in paperback), so he could have referred me to the book. Had he wanted to be even more helpful, he could have given me a page number. But he sent me the page from the manuscript that he thought might be of the most help to my column in part because the page had his own notes on it. He was giving me not just the finished copy, but the thought process that led to it.

A few things struck me about the exchange. The first was that Sir Martin Gilbert, Churchill’s official biographer, had essentially volunteered to do my research for me. The second was that I had never met nor spoken to Gilbert before that, so it wasn’t as though he was taking this effort for a friend. Then I realized just how generous he must be with actual friends and colleagues.

But far more important for Gilbert’s legacy was what it said about his approach to historiography. Martin Gilbert had a rare combination of intellectual ambition and personal humility. On an issue related to Winston Churchill and also to the events leading up the founding of the State of Israel–two monumental subjects of the 20th century–there was absolutely no question that Gilbert was the man to ask. That is an accomplishment in itself. Continue reading “On the Death (and Life) of Martin Gilbert”

Prophecies and Providence and Harry S. Truman

By Alan Jay Gerberprophecies web1

Rabbi Shlomo Lorincz, of blessed memory, was among the most unheralded founders of the State of Israel. Elected nine times to a seat in the Knesset, he saw met and spoke to just about every leading figure of his day. A close confidant of the Chazon Ish, Rav Shach and the Brisker Rav, Lorincz was also at ease with David Ben Gurion, Moshe Dayan, and Golda Meir. It was from him as well as from Yosef Berg and Rav Maimon that the secular leadership learned the religious basis for yishuv Eretz Yisrael.

In a recently published book, “Prophecies and Providence” by Rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer (Devora Publishing), we learn the fascinating story that was a motivating factor for President Harry Truman’s speedy recognition of the State of Israel literally within minutes of its establishment.

“Indeed, President Harry S Truman, who hurried to issue an official statement recognizing the provisional Jewish government as de facto authority of the new Jewish state — and thereby angering U.S. delegates to the U.N. and top ranking State Department officials who were not notified of the decision — cited his childhood dream of repeating the benevolence of Cyrus [the Persian Emperor] as the background for his decision.”

This except was taken from an article on The Jewish Star. Click here to view the entire article.


Urim Publications at the Jerusalem International Book Fair!

We are honored and humbled to celebrate 17 years of quality publishing.

Please visit the Urim Publications booth (#9) at the Jerusalem International Book Fair in the new indoor facility at the First Train Station near the center of Jerusalem.

Monday, February 9 — Thursday, February 12, 2015, 10am-10pm. Free admission.

 Buy 1 book and get 1 FREE* FrontCoverHiRes

*of equal or lower price, while supplies last. Does not include multiple copies of the same title. Applicable for all Urim, Penlight, Penina and Devora imprints.

A selection of quality books from the following publishers will be on sale at the Urim booth: Urim, KTAV, Penlight, Lambda, Devora, Penina, Yasha, Flashlight.

Don’t forget to check out our Summer 2015 catalog.

We hope to see you there!

Tu B’Shvat’s Hope for an Early Spring

By Alan Jay Gerber To Unify a Nation

This coming Wednesday, Feb. 4, we celebrate Tu B’Shvat, the beginning of spring on the Jewish calendar. The very thought of spring, especially given recent climatic events, is a bit of a stretch. Yet, spring is here, albeit a spiritual spring.

This week I will present several literary pieces drawn from varied sources that will hopefully give you a better appreciation of this unique holiday, and hopefully add extra warmth to our frigid lives.

First, we have an interview with Knesset member Rabbi Dov Lipman. Rabbi Lipman made some interesting observations that I will share without comment:

“Trees are often a metaphor for humans. Many of us have heard the injunction that during war one may lay siege to a town, but one may not cut down the trees. The entire verse, Devarim 20:19, reads, ‘When you lay siege to a city for many days to capture it by making war against it, you shall not destroy its tree, wielding an axe against it; for you shall eat of it but not cut it down; for a man is a tree of the field.’

“I should hasten to point out that halachically-speaking, one is only prohibited from cutting down trees that bear fruit. Others consider the fruit of one’s tree as the mitzvot that we do. And, indeed, trees are often a metaphor for Torah. The most famous expression of this is in Mishlei 3:18, ‘It is a tree of life for those who hold fast to it’.” Continue reading “Tu B’Shvat’s Hope for an Early Spring”