December 5, 2018
Elka Weber ● Segula Magazine
This sweet, tough, and charmingly amateurish memoir is the story of a tenacious woman. Sylvia Fishbaum grew up in Slovakia after World War II. Her parents braved anti-Semitism and maintained a traditional Jewish lifestyle in a country where Jews were nearly extinct.
After the rise of Communism, life became harder both materially and emotionally, but Fishbaum’s irrepressible confidence served her well. As a young woman, she sewed clothes and sold them on the black market in the Ukraine to finance her escape to the United States.
A chance meeting with a Jewish family on its way to Israel alerted Sylvia to the existence of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in Rome. After careful, clandestine planning, Fishbaum left behind an apartment and a job,made her way to Rome, and eventually moved to New York. There she married a co-owner of an iconic kosher pizzeria in Manhattan, raised two sons, and lived the American dream.
After her husband’s early death from heart disease, Sylvia dedicated herself to reviving Jewish life in Slovakia. Fishbaum’s wellsprings of willpower and self-deprecating humor make for a compelling read.
October 14, 2018
The New York Times
SCHARFSTEIN–Bernard, passed away peacefully at home in the loving embrace of his family on October 4, 2018 at age 92. Bernie devoted his professional life to Jewish scholarship and education. In close collaboration with his late brother, Sol, he published Jewish scholarly books and educational material at KTAV Publishing House, which was founded by his parents, Asher and Fannie in the 1940s. He was recognized for his impact on Jewish scholarship and learning with an honorary doctorate from Yeshiva University in 1997.
Born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Bernie attended Yeshiva College, where he starred on the basketball team, which in its day competed against leading college teams. He graduated from New York University and received a law degree from Brooklyn Law School. He was an avid reader of The New York Times, where many of his letters to the editor were published. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, to whom he was devoted for 59 years and their three sons, David (Sarah), Jonathan (Suzanne) and Daniel (Julie). He is also survived by nine loving grandchildren (Allison, Rebecca, Michelle, Benjamin, Julia, Kayla, Eliza, Ava and Nadia). It gave him great joy that all of his children and grandchildren were educated at Jewish day schools, where they learned from many KTAV books, and that they continue to have a deep appreciation for Judaism.
Contributions may be made to the Fannie and Asher Gemilus Chessed Fund at Yeshiva University c/o Rabbi Dr. Herbert Dobrinsky, 500 W. 185th St., BH312, NY, NY 10033.
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.
July 2, 2018
Elliot Resnick • Jewish Press
Translating one peirush on Chumash is hard enough. Translating 15 is nothing short of remarkable. But Eliyahu Munk has done just that. The Ohr HaChaim, the Alshich, the Akeidas Yitzchak, the Kedushas Levi, the Ksav v’Hakabalah, the Chizkuni, the Shelah, the Tzror Hamor, the Tur, Rabbeinu Bachye – all translated into English by one man.
And he’s still going strong. At age 96, Eliyahu Munk is now translating the Meshech Chachmah. Amazed at this literary output, The Jewish Press recently called Eliyahu Munk in Israel to speak to him about his life and work.
The Jewish Press: What’s your background?
Munk: I was born in Frankfurt, Germany. My father came from Cologne and taught mathematics, chemistry, and physics.
I attended Rav Joseph Breuer’s yeshiva 10 hours every week. He taught me the haftarot, and the way he made a navi come to life is something I haven’t forgotten. He had a knack of making a navi talk to you. It was a terrific thing. Read the rest of this entry »
June 6, 2018
Debbie Weissman • Times of Israel
In the mid-20th century, the great American Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel credibly wrote “Judaism today is the least known religion.” But recent decades have seen Christians making impressive efforts to fill in the knowledge gap. For many years, I have had the privilege of teaching groups of Christians who come to Jerusalem from throughout the world. Many of them are priests, pastors and nuns on sabbatical; some are lay people. They come from anywhere from a week to a year and my involvement varies, depending on the length and depth of the program. The programs are held at Christian institutions in and around Jerusalem.
I teach them about Judaism and about Israel. I give introductions to the Christians who visit our synagogue on Friday nights for prayers, and we sometimes also provide them with home hospitality for Shabbat dinners. It is fascinating to note what questions they ask. In one case, a young woman was surprised that our sanctuary was not decorated with pictures of Moses. Once, I told a group of seminarians that they were imposing Christian questions on Judaism; what interested them almost exclusively were Read the rest of this entry »