Heal Us O Lord

March 28, 2018

Review by Rabbi Johnny Solomon

Heal us O Lord

As a Jewish educator and Rabbi I am blessed to know many religious leaders and Rabbis. Some work in synagogues, while others work in schools, Yeshivot and Seminaries. However, I believe those who are most involved on a day to day basis in bringing redemption and comfort to the lives of others are Chaplains working on campus, and specifically those working in hospitals, nursing homes and prisons.

Rabbi Sidney Goldstein is a true expert in this field. He was the Director of Chaplaincy at the Albert Einstein Medical Center, and he founded the National Association of Jewish Chaplains. Beyond this, he served as the community Chaplain of the Jewish Family Service of Palm Beach County. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Concise Code of Jewish Law for Converts

March 25, 2018

Review by Daniel D. Stuhlman • AJL Reviews 

Jewish Law for Converts

When you encounter a book of Jewish law written by someone who is both a professor in a law school, a former dayan, and a former congregational rabbi, you will find content that is both well written and comprehensive in scope. Rabbi Broyde has arranged the book according to the volumes of the Shulḥan Arukh, i.e, Orach Chaim, Yoreh Deah, Even Haezer, and Choshen Mishpat. The book provides answers for the professional (rabbi) and the convert and covers every aspect of conversion and life afterwards. Some of the laws covered here are applicable under very limited and oftentimes obscure situations. For example, the Torah states that a Jew may not marry an Ammonite or Moabite. Since these nations have disappeared, such restrictions obviously no longer apply. Nevertheless, this book is a useful addition to modern interpretations of Jewish law. Overall, the main idea underpinning this work may be summarized as follows: there is a special obligation to love the convert and extra care must be taken to determine how this obligation applies.

The author’s conclusion is that there is no single origin story or theory that can explain who we are and how we became 21st century Jews. There is no easy explanation as to why we are a religion, ethnic group, and nationality. This book encourages the reader to understand the questions a convert faces so that one may understand and welcome them into the community. Recommended for academic, synagogue, and personal libraries.


Jewish Guide to Practical Medical Decision Making

March 22, 2018

Review by Daniel D. Stuhlman • AJL Reviews

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Major technological advances in medical treatment raise many ethical and halakhic (Jewish law) issues concerning end of life and reproductive medical situations. Even though the Halakha has precedents in the Talmud and in the subsequent codes and responsa, one must keep current in the medical, psychological, and halakhic domains to be able to make decisions. For example, one congregational rabbi was consulted about removing life-support from a dying patient. The rabbi said that he would follow the ruling of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, who said that when the oxygen tank is changed, if the patient is able to breathe on his own, we can decline to connect a new tank. The author told the rabbi that hospitals supply oxygen from wall connections and have not used tanks for many decades.

The author reminds us that the role of the chaplain is to Read the rest of this entry »


New Book – Walking the Exodus

March 21, 2018

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Gender Equality and Prayer in Jewish Law

March 18, 2018

Review by Roger S. Kohn • AJL Reviews

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This slim book has two parts: part one about women serving as a communal prayer leader; part two, about women counting in a quorum of ten.

This book aims to answer a need: “though the halakhic questions regarding egalitarian minyanim have earned a fair amount of literature, there is still a need for a comprehensive treatment of the issue that seeks to understand the underlying concerns and issues of the different positions taken. Read the rest of this entry »


Jewish Law as Rebellion: A Plea for Religious Authenticity and Halachic Courage

March 8, 2018

Review by Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz • Jewish Journal

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As I’ve been a close student of Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo’s for many years and am very familiar with his philosophy, I found myself excited and eager to read his latest book: Jewish Law as Rebellion: A Plea for Religious Authenticity and Halachic Courage (Urim Publications, 2018). I was not disappointed. In this masterful work, Rav Cardozo not only critiques the great challenges that Jews face in the world but also lays out an inspirational and comprehensive vision of contemporary Judaism, one where, “Halacha’s main [function] is to protest against a world that is becoming ever more complacent, self-indulgent, insensitive, and egocentric” (21).  Read the rest of this entry »


Gender Equality and Prayer in Jewish Law

March 5, 2018

Review by Aryeh Klapper • JOFA 

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In Gender Equality and Prayer in Jewish Law, Rabbis Ethan Tucker and Micha’el Rosenberg have produced a book that is noteworthy for its integrity, accuracy, and clarity. The authors worked for many years to refine the book’s content and responded to critiques with thanks and openness to revising their arguments, if not their conclusions. (Full disclosure: I am thanked for my “sharp and serious critiques and criticisms” [p. 9], ongoing from when I was a stripling Orthodox rabbinic adviser at Harvard Hillel while they were undergraduates.) The formal elements of their arguments are consciously crafted to fall within traditional and contemporary Orthodox halakhic parameters. The quality and humility of their work can serve as a model for private and public halakhic conversations about such issues.

This hard-earned and well-deserved praise does not mean that the book ought to succeed in directly affecting the davening practices of halakhic communities, nor that it successfully justifies the genderidentical practices of current prayer communities that otherwise follow the halakhot of prayer. It is vital to understand why, even if the explanation is lengthy. Read the rest of this entry »