Was Yosef Autistic?

May 13, 2019

Doreen Wachmann ● Jewish Telegraph

Professor Samuel Levine’s CV runs to 22 pages, citing all his academic achievements in the field of Jewish and American law.

Yet his latest book, Was Yosef on the Spectrum? Understanding Joseph through Torah, Midrash and Classical Jewish Sources (Urim Publications) deals with a more controversial topic. He suggests that the great biblical character Joseph may have been autistic.

Many charedim nowadays see red if anyone dares to criticise heroic biblical characters. Twenty years ago, there was a riot in Manchester with the visit of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, who had written an article suggesting that Moses was not a politician — surely a compliment rather than an insult?

So why did Prof Levine choose to stray from his usual academic paths and write on such a controversial subject?

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Jews in Medicine

May 6, 2019

Two Loves

Review by Amos Lassen

Dr. Ronald Eisenberg brings two of his great loves, Judaism and Medicie together in “Jews in Medicine” in which he focuses on the contributions made by Jews over time to the medical profession. He shares the history of

More than 450 individual Jewish physicians who he divides 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.” There is a large section devoted to the modern era that focuses on European and American physicians and includes Jewish Nobel Prize winners. Included is 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.

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Insight Into Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Berkovits

April 16, 2019

Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot ● Jewish Standard

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.

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The Haggadah, Symbolically Speaking

April 15, 2019

Steve Lipman ● The New York Jewish Week

On the cover of Martin Bodek’s new book about Passover, three small pictograms set against a stark white background catch the reader’s attention: a man speaking, a sea shell and a ram.

Welcome to “The Emoji Haggadah.”

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Faith and Freedom

April 14, 2019

Dov Peretz Elkins ● Jewish Media Review

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.

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Pesach Haggadah – A Creative Approach

April 14, 2019

Jonathan Kirsch ● Jewish Journal

An emoji can be seen as a contemporary revival of the hieroglyphics that were so prominent in ancient Egypt. And so, as we recall the flight from Mitzrayim during our third-millennium seders, what could be more appropriate than “The Emoji Haggadah” (KTAV), which tells the tale entirely in playful and inventive images? It’s the handiwork of Martin Bodek, a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and co-founder of TheKnish.com, which has been described as “a Jewish version of The Onion.” 

To be sure, “The Emoji Haggadah” is more of a game than a haggadah, but it will surely engage the lively interest of younger participants and enliven the seder for everyone even if, on the other hand, the challenge of decipherment isn’t going to make your seder any shorter. But, just as the Rosetta Stone was the key to decoding Egyptian hieroglyphics, the author provides some helpful tips for translation as well as the complete text of a traditional haggadah in both Hebrew and English.


Faith and Freedom – A Passion Project

April 12, 2019

Bracha Schwartz ● Jewish Link

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 Haggadah text.

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