“A Concise Code of Jewish Law for Converts” Book Review

October 19, 2017

Review by Lawrence Kobrin on Lookstein Bookjed Digest

Jewish Law for Converts

Conversion to Judaism, once relatively rare, has now become something encountered in many circumstances and families. There has been considerable “politicization” and controversy concerning the process and requirements. In all of the controversy, the needs and strivings of the sincere individuals who seek conversion are sometimes overlooked. Historically, some works for this purpose were published, but are primarily in Hebrew and not generally available. It is to the needs and concerns of contemporary converts that a fascinating recent book is addressed.

Rabbi Michael Broyde’s work, A Concise Code of Jewish Law for Converts is what its title suggests, but much more. Drawing on many years of Read the rest of this entry »

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New Review: A Concise Code of Jewish Law for Converts

October 18, 2017

Review by James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review 

Jewish Law for Converts.jpg

While the topic of conversion in Judaism has been extensively covered in many fine studies, no one has yet explored the particular laws related to after conversion. In “A Concise Code of Jewish Law for Converts”, Michael J. Broyde (Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law and a Senior Fellow at Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion. He served for many years as the Yoshev Rosh (chair) and a dayan (judge) in the SouthEast Rabbinical Court for Conversion which was part of the GPS Conversion network) deftly explores many topics and questions that revolve around the life of a Jewish convert. Such topics include the place of a convert in a Jewish community according to Jewish law, the treatment of a convert in respect to acceptance and discrimination, and providing affirmative incentives to converts. Containing a detailed review of every aspect of Jewish law from the convert’s perspective and in relation to them, as well as supplemental essays, “A Concise Code of Jewish Law for Converts” provides knowledge and guidance on life after conversion. Comprehensive, authoritative, exceptionally well organized and presented, “A Concise Code of Jewish Law for Converts” is a critically important and unreservedly recommended addition to synagogue and academic library Judaic Studies instructional reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.


Against Indifference: A Prayer for the World

September 26, 2017

Written by Nathan Lopes Cardozo, taken from the David Cardozo Academy. Originally posted on September 21, 2016.

In memory of  Aaron Shmuel ben Menachem Mannes – Samuel Stern

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
—Elie Wiesel

There is probably no greater curse in our world today than the curse of indifference. While we are surrounded by abundant beauty and have much to be thankful for, millions of children and other innocent people live lives of ongoing war, hunger, displacement, and other disasters.

Demonic forces that we cannot control, or do not care about because they are far away from our lives of comfort, strike our fellow human beings all over the world.

While we Jews have our share of calamites, it is our duty as the chosen people to care not only for our fellow Jews but for all of humanity.

Here is a prayer, in Hebrew and English, which I suggest we say in all our synagogues on Shabbat, when saying the prayer for the State of Israel and our soldiers, or when praying at home.

This is not just a prayer to God; it is also meant as a reminder to us not to remain indifferent to all the pain in our world and to what requires our care and serious attention.

I invite all of you to ask your rabbis, and your gabbaim who assist in the running of the services, to add this short payer to the synagogue Shabbat service, and send it out to your friends, Jews and gentiles alike.

I suspect that if God were to give the Torah today, He would add an eleventh commandment:

“Thou shalt not be indifferent”

The beginning of the Jewish New Year, less than two weeks away, gives us a unique opportunity to start saying this prayer.

Shana tova to all good people!

Nathan Lopes Cardozo

 

With special thanks to my dear friend Shimon Kremer for helping me formulate this prayer.

Download a PDF version of the prayer

תפילה לשלום העולם

“מָה-רַבּוּ מַעֲשֶׂיךָ ה’, כֻּלָּם, בְּחָכְמָה עָשִׂיתָ, מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ קִנְיָנֶךָ”
אָבִינוּ שֶבַּשָמַיִם רִבּוֹן כָּל הָעוֹלָמִים
רַחֵם נָא עַל כָּל הַסוֹבלִים מִפִיגוּעֵי טֶרוֹר וּמִלחָמוֹת בָּאָרֶץ וּבחוּץ לָאָרֶץ.
הַגֵן עַל כָּל בּרִיוֹתֶיךָ מִפנֵי אַלִימוּת, תּרַפֶּה ידֵי בּנֵי בּלִיַעַל,
ותַנחֶה אוֹתָם לדֶרֶך הטוֹבָה ולִתשוּבָה שלֵמָה.
מנַע אסוֹנוֹת טֶבַע:
רעִידוֹת אֲדָמָה, מַיִם גוֹעשִים, וגַלִים רוֹעֲשִים,
אֵש מִשתוֹלֶלֶת או רוּחַ סוֹחֶפֶת.
רַחֵם עַל נטוּלֵי מָקֹום, חַסרֵי בַּיִת וּמזֵי רָעָב בּעוֹלָמֶךָ.
חֲמוֹל עַל מַעֲשֶיךָ, נַחֵם אֶת הָאֲבֵלִים ורַפֵא אֶת הַפצוּעִים.
פּתַח אֶת ליבֵּנוּ למַעַן כָּל יצוּרֵי אֱנוֹש בּכָל אַרבַּע כַּנפוֹת הָאָרֶץ.
ותִמחֶה רוֹעַ מכָּל יוֹשבֵי תֶבֶל אַרצךָ.
שנאמר:
(הִרְכַּבְתָּ אֱנוֹשׁ, לְרֹאשֵׁנוּ: בָּאנוּ-בָאֵשׁ וּבַמַּיִם; וַתּוֹצִיאֵנוּ, לָרְוָיָה”(תהילים סו:יב”

ונֹאמַר אָמֶן

נתן לופס קרדוזו

Prayer for World Peace

“How abundant are Your works, Hashem; with wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your possessions.” (Psalms 104:24)
Our Father in Heaven, Master of the Universe,
Have mercy on all who suffer from terrorism and wars, in Israel and the world over.
Protect all of Your creatures against violence; weaken the hands of villains, and lead them to the path of goodness and complete repentance.
Prevent natural disasters:
Earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, raging fires and tornadoes
Have compassion on all the displaced, homeless, and starving people in Your world.
Have mercy on your creations. Comfort the mourners, and heal the injured.
Open our hearts to all human beings in all four corners of the earth.
Eradicate evil from among all the inhabitants of Your world,
As is written:
“You allowed people to subjugate us; we went through fire and water and You brought us out to a place of abundance.” (Psalms 66:12)

And let us say Amen.

Nathan Lopes Cardozo

 


Book Review: Jewish Guide to Practical Medical Decision Making

September 25, 2017

 

Review by Aviad Bodner that originally appeared in the Lookstein Education Book Review Digest

Medical Decisions web 1

Rabbi Jason Weiner’s book Jewish Guide to Practical Medical Decision Making is an extremely helpful guide for any educator teaching the subject of Refuah V’Halacha or Jewish Medical Ethics. His ability to write in a fashion that would be useful to those who are familiar with Rabbinic literature and those who are not is praiseworthy. The author covers many topics, from beginning of life questions such as defining Maternity in a case of surrogate mother or egg donor, until the question of the determining the moment of death and the possibility of organ donation, and everything in between.

In addition to the detailed discussion on the Jewish law regarding these delicate and sensitive matters (and the extensive endnotes following each chapter), Rabbi Weiner shares with us his personal experience as a chaplain, opening for us a window into a fascinating world of Jewish medical decision making.

Rabbi Aviad Bodner teaches Jewish Medical Ethics at Ramaz High School, and serves as the Rabbi of the Stanton Street Shul on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

 


Book review: Jewish Guide to Practical Medical Decision-Making

September 10, 2017

Originally published in The Times of Israel on September 7, 2017

by Ben RothkeMedical Decisions web 1

 

It may be a stretch, but I’d propose that Ludwig Wittgenstein would really like Rabbi Jason Weiner. Wittgenstein explored the relationship between language and reality. While not a book on language and reality per se; in Jewish Guide to Practical Medical Decision-Making (Urim Publications 978-9655242782), Weiner notes that many of the disconnections between clergy and medical professionals are often in the language they use.

Weiner writes that when seeking to clarify on issues related to medical ethics; effective communication is essential. Little progress can be made if the religious and medical communities are unable to communicate.

To that, Weiner delineates the many critical terms needed to make those effective medical decisions. Some of them include value vs. sanctityinfinite vs. relative value, pain vs. suffering, and more.

An important nuanced point he makes is that pain is usually addressed medically, while Read the rest of this entry »


Review of Memoirs of a Hopeful Pessimist

January 16, 2017

A Collection of Light-Hearted Autobiographical Stories
By Martin Lockshin

The State of Israel appropriately takes pride in its many achievements. In technology, science, research as well as militarily, Israel’s success seems unprecedented, especially considering its small population. Advanced Jewish studies and many varied forms of Jewish culture thrive. Historians say that never before in history has such a high percentage of Jews had expert-level knowledge of Jewish texts.

On the social level, however, the picture in Israel is far from rosy. While Israel’s raison d’être is the ingathering of exiles to build a new society together, serious tensions abound between Jews who are Ashkenazi and Sephardi, religious and secular, and haredi (ultra- or fervently Orthodox) and non-haredi. Women’s rights are more fraught than in most western democracies, because of the religious-secular divide and the lack of separation of religion and state. Israeli supporters and opponents of the settlements often do not even talk about their differences – it’s just too painful. Tensions between the 80 per cent of the population who are Jewish and the 20 per cent who are Muslim or Christian are part of everyday existence. Read the rest of this entry »


Review of Who Stole My Religion?

December 13, 2016

By Dov Peretz Elkins

WhoStoleMyReligion9789655242348 “Who Stole My Religion?” is a thought-provoking and timely call to apply Judaism’s powerful teachings to help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path. While appreciating the radical, transformative nature of Judaism, Richard Schwartz argues that it has been “stolen” by Jews who are in denial about climate change and other environmental threats and support politicians and policies that may be inconsistent with basic Jewish values. Tackling such diverse issues as climate change, world hunger, vegetarianism, poverty, terrorism, destruction of the environment, peace prospects in Israel, and American foreign policy, he offers practical suggestions for getting Judaism back on track as a faith based on justice, peace, and compassion. He urges the reader to reconsider current issues in line with Judaism’s highest values in an effort to meet the pressing challenges of today’s world.

Right now the new Trump administration is on the cusp of deciding whether climate change is real, and human-created, or not. The President-elect should read this book, and he will be convinced beyond doubt that there is so much more that we humans and governments must do to save our planet.

Read the rest of this entry »