Review: Faith and Freedom Passover Haggadah

September 27, 2019

Roger S. Kohn, Silver Spring, MD AJL News and Reviews

This a traditional Haggadah, with translation in English, supplemented by a commentary that is drawn from twelve books and three articles of Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits (1908–1992), a Modern Orthodox rabbi and educator. Almost two hundred excerpts are included here, and a quarter of these are from only four books, Faith after the Holocaust, 1973 (17 excerpts), Man and God, 1969 (13), God, Man, and History, 2004 (13), and Between Yesterday and Tomorrow, 1945 (11). The excerpts can be quite long, often over one or two pages, and introduced in the translation with a word or words in bold type; the same expression found in the translation is then used to introduce the excerpt. As the editor warns us in his introduction, the excerpts are all from published works “sometimes with abridgments and slight edits.”

Recommended to all readers interested in the writings of Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits.


Review: Living in the Presence

September 26, 2019

Harvey Sukenic, Hebrew College Library, Newton Centre, MA ● AJL News and Reviews

Benjamin Epstein, a Jerusalem-based psychologist and rabbi, argues that Jewish mindfulness is both a traditional Jewish practice and essential to our spiritual life and growth. He sees mindfulness, termed yishuv hada’at, as not mere tranquility or peace of mind, but rather “settling into (unifying with) present moment awareness.” For Epstein, yishuv hada’at is a fundamental way of looking at life, indispensable for our basic spiritual life and growth. This state of mindfulness, he posits, can be achieved by anyone with practice and work. Living in the present moment is key to connecting to the Divine. We can be aware of the Divine in everyday life, and in our religious life, but to achieve this, we need a change of attitude; we need to let things be as they are, to slow down, be in the moment, to explore and control our thoughts.

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Review: Jews in Medicine

September 25, 2019

Ilka Gordon AJL News and Reviews

Jews in Medicine is a very interesting and readable discussion of the history of Jews in medicine and Jewish physicians. The book begins with the physicians and medical theories of the Talmudic era and ends with contemporary physicians both living and deceased. The first six chapters are divided by geographical location and period: for example, physicians in Christian lands, Spain, Italy, Provence, and Turkey during the Gaonic period and before and after the expulsion from Spain. There is also a brief discussion of the rise of independent Jewish hospitals in the United States (once 113 and now only 22) and the reason for their decline.

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Review: Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man

September 24, 2019

Randall C. and Anne-Marie Belinfante ● AJL News and Reviews

In this, the third of Rabbi Nachum Amsel’s Encyclopedias, the author continues to explicate the values and principles that underlie Jewish laws and precepts as they apply to contemporary Jews. In particular, this volume focuses on those laws governing interaction between Jews and the people around them, be they Jewish or otherwise. Amsel covers a diverse range of issues: in addition to considering topics such as war, modesty, tzedakah, and hospitality, he considers more seemingly “modern” concerns such as climate change, advertising and universal health care, weighing how Jewish legal sources apply to them.

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#MindfulMondays

September 16, 2019

Join the workshop taking place at Brooklyn College on Monday nights!