July 17, 2018
Rivkah Lambert Adler • The Jerusalem Post
Silvia Fishbaum fought her way to freedom and a new life in America
After World War II, two Holocaust survivors settled in Czechoslovakia and had three daughters. The youngest, Sophia, “was known as the little rabble-rouser.” Born with an impulsive nature, Sophia, now known as Silvia Fishbaum, fought, practically from birth, against the limitations of her life as a member of the only Jewish family in a small Czechoslovakian village. Her memoir, Dirty Jewess: A Woman’s Courageous Journey to Religious and Political Freedom, tells the story of her life and her adventures.
Though Fishbaum’s mother worked hard at it, keeping Shabbat special and maintaining a semblance of the preciousness of Judaism was a constant challenge in rural Czechoslovakia. Even as a child, she was already accustomed to being publicly insulted for being a Jew. In Chapter 6, she describes a particularly offensive encounter with an old man on a tram in the relatively large city of Košice.
June 27, 2018
JLNJ Staff • Jewish Link of New Jersey
In “Scholarly Man of Faith: Studies in the Thought and Writings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik,” Dr. Kanarfogel and his co-editor, Dr. Dov Schwartz, professor of philosophy at Bar-Ilan University, bring together the expanded studies of written works of the rav that emerged from a joint conference between YU and Bar-Ilan in 2012. Other YU faculty contributing chapters include Rabbi Shalom Carmy, assistant professor of Jewish philosophy and Bible at Yeshiva College; Rabbi Dr. David Shatz, Ronald P. Stanton University Professor of Philosophy, Ethics and Religious Thought at Stern College for Women; and Dr. Daniel Rynhold, associate professor in modern Jewish philosophy at Revel…
“In ‘Scholarly Man of Faith,’” said Dr. Kanarfogel, “outstanding international scholars examine areas of his intellectual endeavors that have not been fully explored, making the volume valuable to anyone interested in the rav’s teaching…. I have had the pleasure of investigating with my fellow scholars the forces that have shaped the distinct elements of the Jewish character.”
(Courtesy of Yeshiva University) Rabbi Dr. Ephraim Kanarfogel, E. Billi Ivry University Professor of Jewish History, Literature and Law at Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, has co-edited two new volumes, one focusing on the writing of Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik and the other on the emergence of Jewish identity during the medieval period in Europe.
June 21, 2018
S. T. Katz • Boston University, Choice Reviews
This provocative book considers issues relating primarily to Jewish law (Halakah). Lopes Cardozo is a member of the right-wing religious community in Israel, so one would expect this book to offer a very conservative reading of the Halakah and its response to current religious issues within Judaism. Instead, one gets a strident claim that the Halakah is meant to challenge the status quo and prompt deeper spiritual reflection and initiatives. This is what makes the book interesting. The author argues that Halakah should be a spiritual exercise, not merely an obligation. In consequence, he is deeply interested in questions relating to human encounters with the divine, and he takes on such complex and pressing issues as conversion and kosher food. Also striking is his engagement with Jewish and non-Jewish thought more broadly: he writes about Spinoza, Buber, and the Buddha, among many others. In particular, he offers surprisingly frank criticism of the US’s most revered modern Orthodox sage, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik. Lopes Cardozo writes that Soloveitchik “was not a mechadesh – a man whose novel ideas really moved the Jewish tradition forward, especially regarding Halcha. He did not solve major Halachic problems.” In the context of Jewish intellectual discussion, this is strong stuff.
Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty, professionals.
Reprinted with permission from Choice Reviews. All rights reserved. Copyright by the American Library Association.
June 4, 2018
Dr. Zackary Sholem Berger M.D. • Lehrhaus
Rabbi Jason Weiner, a rabbi and bioethicist who serves as a synagogue rabbi, a posek, and as a consultant on a hospital ethics committee, has done a service to the halakhically observant Jewish community by writing a clear, modern, and compassionate book about dilemmas which patients, physicians, caregivers, and hospitals are likely to face….
In general, this book is well worth purchasing and perusing for anyone interested in modern health care and Halakhah. But as relevant as the halakhic details (which I am not competent to question), are the implied messages sent by the selection of content and the manner of its presentation. The book is in English, including footnotes (compare with other halakhic texts for an Orthodox audience in which the content, or at least the footnotes, are in Hebrew). This makes the text admirably accessible — in fact, more accessible than the introduction contemplates. It’s very likely that the book will be read, appreciated, and used not just by rabbis and poskim, but by healthcare professionals, families, and patients as well.
June 3, 2018
Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi • Tikkun
“Reading Debbie Weissman’s memoir leaves us with some hope… whose teaching and writing in Israel and the Diaspora and commitment to dialogue between people of different faiths have had a world-wide impact…. An insight into the principles by which Debbie guides her own behavior can be seen as she adopts a modified version of Levinas’ teaching that we should see the “face of God in the Other.” “It would be enough,” she says, “if we could just look at the Other and see a face no less human than our own.”
May 27, 2018
Ilka Gordon • AJL Reviews
American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs is a collection of antique photographs culled from the archives of the Library of Congress, Harvard University, the British Museum, the New York Public library, and many other libraries and archives. This fascinating coffee-table size book has large black and white and color photographs of American tourists, government officials, American navy crewmen, and members of the U.S. Congress who visited Palestine before the birth of the state of Israel.
Each photograph is accompanied by several pages of explanatory text; many of the pictures are of little-known people and curious events that are part of Israeli history. Others are better known, like Mark Twain’s 1867 trip, which includes a full-page photograph of his distinguished-looking, turbaned guide, Far-Away-Moses, as well as women in long flowing dresses and fashionable hats sitting beside the walls of the old city of Jerusalem. Another unlikely tourist was Ulysses S. Grant, author of the infamous “General Order No.11” which expelled Jews from states under his command during the Civil War. Grant visited the Holy Land after he left the presidency, as part of a European tour. Also fascinating are pictures of Yemenite Jews in Jerusalem circa 1900s, as well as a group of images depicting a little known rescue effort that occurred between 1914 and 1917 in which U.S. navy ships made thirteen trips to the port of Jaffa to deliver money, medicine, and food, including matzah for Passover, to aid the starving Jewish communities in Palestine. This book is highly recommended for all libraries.
April 29, 2018
Midwest Book Review • The Judaic Studies Shelf
“Heal Us O Lord: A Chaplain’s Interface With Pain” is the personal memoir of Rabbi Sidney Goldstein. It’s the deftly told story of a chaplain who encounters the traumas of life as he visits with those who are in the throes of experiencing them.
“Heal Us O Lord” expresses the challenges faced by chaplains in providing support during some of the most crucial and painful times of life without being enveloped by them personally. Rabbi Goldstein offers a source of encouragement and council for those whose lives might crave spirituality but do not know where to turn.
A candid and impressively informative memoir, “Heal Us O Lord” is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal reading lists, as well as synagogue, community, and academic library Contemporary American Biography in general, and Judaic Studies supplemental studies lists in particular.