Eliezer Berkovits (1908-1992) remains one of the most important Jewish theologians of the twentieth century.
Born in what is today Romania, he received semicha at the Rabbinical Seminary of Berlin (where he was the talmid muvhak of the Seridei Eish) and a PhD in philosophy from the University of Berlin. While ministering as a respected rav in locales across the globe and later serving as the beloved chairperson of Jewish philosophy at Skokie’s Hebrew Theological College, Rabbi Berkovits also published an array of essays and books on halacha, philosophy and other topics of contemporary Jewish relevance. It is unfortunate that Rabbi Berkovits’ writings are today largely unknown to the larger Jewish public, even though the wisdom contained therein remains as relevant as ever.
On the bookshelves
of the contemporary young and not-so-young college-educated modern Orthodox
Jew, one most often will find the theological works of Rabbi Joseph B.
Soloveitchik and his esteemed son-in-law, my revered teacher, Rabbi Aharon
Lichtenstein, both of blessed memory.
On another shelf one
will probably find works of Rabbi Norman Lamm, the former president of Yeshiva
University, as well as the increasingly popular (in both senses of the word)
writings of Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. On another shelf one also may find some
writings of Rav Kook and in some instances the newly translated works of Rav
Shagar. These thinkers rightly occupy a pride of place in the pantheon of
modern Orthodox thought leaders. The dominance of these voices, however,
sometimes has come at the price of relegating other significant voices from the
1950s to the 1970s that contributed significant ideas to our thinking about the
engagement of halachic Judaism and the modern world.
Faith and Freedom Passover
Haggadah presents selections of the
writings of Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits, one of the major Jewish philosophers of
the twentieth century, as a new and meaningful commentary for the Passover
Haggadah. The Seder night experience will be enriched with the reading of the
traditional telling of the Exodus along with Rabbi Berkovits’ insightful and
refreshing ideas that address crucial topics for the modern era.
The wisdom of an author can reach into your heart
and mind, shaping your views and changing your life. It is not uncommon for
people to read all the works of a writer they admire. But Dr. Reuven Mohl went
further after becoming dedicated to the teachings of Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits.
Dr. Mohl, who lives in Teaneck with his wife and three children, has just
edited and published “Faith and Freedom Passover Haggadah” (Urim Publications),
where he linked passages of Rabbi Berkovits’ writings as commentary to the
One of the tragedies of Modern Orthodox Judaism is the fact that the thoughts and halachic insights of Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Berkovits (1908-1992) were never sufficiently recognized by the mainstream Orthodox world and its leadership, which often snubbed, attacked, or simply ignored him. By doing so, Orthodoxy and the Jewish people at large did not realize that they paid a heavy price. They overlooked a major figure that could have been their leader and greatly advanced Orthodoxy.
Requiring no specialized medical
of Jewish knowledge to appreciate this book, Jews in Medicine documents the
fascinating history of medical contributions made by Jewish physicians
throughout the ages. Profiles of more than 450 individual Jewish physicians are
divided by region and area of specialization, all within a historical context –
from Talmudic times to the modern era, from Islamic and Christian lands to the
spread of Jewish communities in Europe after the Spanish Inquisition. The large
section devoted to the modern era focuses on European and American physicians,
including the substantial number of Jewish Nobel Prize winners in the field.
The book concludes with a description of physicians who were leaders in the
Zionist movement and those who contributed to the development of medicine in
the State of Israel.
Reading through this book makes one proud to be part of a
people who have made such remarkable contributions to medical science. It is
truly amazing to read of all the medical discoveries made by Jews in so many
countries and in so many centuries.
Requiring no specialized medical or Jewish knowledge to appreciate this book, “Jews in Medicine: Contributions to Health and Healing Through the Ages” by Dr. Ronald L. Eisenberg (Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School and a radiologist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) documents the fascinating history of medical contributions made by Jewish physicians throughout the ages. Profiles of more than 450 individual Jewish physicians are divided by region and area of specialization, all within a historical context ranging from Talmudic times to the modern era, and from Islamic and Christian lands to the spread of Jewish communities in Europe after the Spanish Inquisition. The large section devoted to the modern era focuses on European and American physicians, including the substantial number of Jewish Nobel Prize winners in the field. “Jews in Medicine” concludes with a description of physicians who were leaders in the Zionist movement and those who contributed to the development of medicine in the State of Israel.
A unique and impressively informative contribution to Jewish History in general, and the History of Medicine in particular, “Jews in Medicine” is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library collections and supplemental studies reading lists.