Judging Book Covers

July 8, 2015

By Shlomo Greenwald

I’ll admit it. I sometimes choose to read a book based on its cover. I know. I know. I’m breaking a cardinal rule of…well…of life, of one that we’ve all been taught, at least as a metaphor, since pre-school.

Whether the rest of us admit it or not, covers draw our attentions and create the intial impressions we have with books. Which is why I’ve long bemoaned the state of book covers in the Orthodox publishing world. There had always been exceptions, but in general the covers were boring and cookie-cutter.

In the last five to 10 years, though, Jewish book covers have gained some vitality and personality. On this page are a few of the new titles whose covers have won AftertheHolocustWeb1my attention and praise.

After the Holocaust the Bells Still Ring by Rabbi Joseph Polak

Designer Shanie Cooper says:

“The cover of After the Holocaust the Bells Still Ring is comprised of three separate elements: the train tracks and the typewriter-style font, which together evoke the Holocaust experience, and a post-war image of the author as a child with his mother. I gave the mother-son photo visual prominence by superimposing it over the train tracks that fade into the background. This served to illustrate the idea that no matter where the Author went or what he did after he was liberated at age 3 from Bergen-Belsen, the Holocaust was a constant shadow throughout the life of one of the youngest Survivors.”

This originally appeared in The Jewish Press


Can Movies Be Kosher?

July 6, 2015

By Rabbi Herbert J. Cohen, Ph.D.kosher movies web2

Every day I pray that I will have a sense that God is always in front of me, that He is always in the room. It helps me control my thoughts, my actions, and my speech. When things irritate me, I think long and hard as to whether I want to respond to a provocation or to an unkind word. In general, I do not regret being silent, but I do regret a hurtful word that I may have uttered to someone, even when my intentions were noble.

I was reminded of the power of words as I watched the gripping political thriller All the President’s Men, which portrays in detail the intense investigative newspaper work of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they painstakingly researched the Watergate burglary, eventually leading to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Woodward and Bernstein seem like two Talmud study partners who continually probe each other to ascertain the truth. Each questions the other and is unafraid of challenging or criticizing his friend. Their frank criticism is not personal, but rather a sign that each one trusts the other to be honest and not to advance any personal agenda. Their shared mission, to discover what the Watergate burglary was all about, makes their egos subservient to the greater purpose of their work. It is this understanding of their common goal which is at the heart of their friendship and their search for truth. Read the rest of this entry »


Statement of Solidarity by the Jewish Community

July 2, 2015

By Rabbi Stuart WeinblattLivingInTheShadowOfDeath9789655241709

In an extraordinary display of unity, a broad cross-section of American Jewish organizations joined to declare this coming Shabbat to be a “Shabbat of solidarity with the African-American community.” In light of the horrific act of violence in Charleston, South Carolina, leaders of the Jewish community are asking their members to participate in this Sabbath of solidarity.

Among the suggested actions for rabbis, congregations and organizations are to speak out in synagogues this coming Shabbat on the issue of racism in society and to express rejection of hateful extremism.  All rabbis and congregations are encouraged to reach out to AME churches in their communities with expressions and demonstrations of support. Read the rest of this entry »