Review: The Saga of Nathan

October 3, 2019

Sanford R. SilverburgAJL News and Reviews

Nathan and the Lions of Ƚótold the story, in novel format, of a group of 34 teenagers who lived in the Polish forest of Las Lagienwnicki as partisans during World War II. This follow-up story, The Saga of Nathan, focuses on Nathan Kochinski, a member of the group, and his adventures in the post-World War II period. Like the other survivors, Nathan leaves Poland for Palestine. His war-time experience as a combat leader is recognized and when he joins the Haganah he rises to the rank of captain. His transformative role in this underground movement leads him to become a liaison officer seconded to David Ben-Gurion, director of the Jewish Agency for Security Policy. After the establishment of the State of Israel, Nathan continues to offer his expertise, rising to the level of Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Defense. Finally, Nathan succumbs to an assassination attempt on Ben-Gurion by interfering with a thrown explosive device.

This tale would make a great discussion piece for a reading group if the subject was meritorious efforts by Holocaust survivors.

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Review: Living in the Presence

September 26, 2019

Harvey Sukenic, Hebrew College Library, Newton Centre, MA ● AJL News and Reviews

Benjamin Epstein, a Jerusalem-based psychologist and rabbi, argues that Jewish mindfulness is both a traditional Jewish practice and essential to our spiritual life and growth. He sees mindfulness, termed yishuv hada’at, as not mere tranquility or peace of mind, but rather “settling into (unifying with) present moment awareness.” For Epstein, yishuv hada’at is a fundamental way of looking at life, indispensable for our basic spiritual life and growth. This state of mindfulness, he posits, can be achieved by anyone with practice and work. Living in the present moment is key to connecting to the Divine. We can be aware of the Divine in everyday life, and in our religious life, but to achieve this, we need a change of attitude; we need to let things be as they are, to slow down, be in the moment, to explore and control our thoughts.

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Review: Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man

September 24, 2019

Randall C. and Anne-Marie Belinfante ● AJL News and Reviews

In this, the third of Rabbi Nachum Amsel’s Encyclopedias, the author continues to explicate the values and principles that underlie Jewish laws and precepts as they apply to contemporary Jews. In particular, this volume focuses on those laws governing interaction between Jews and the people around them, be they Jewish or otherwise. Amsel covers a diverse range of issues: in addition to considering topics such as war, modesty, tzedakah, and hospitality, he considers more seemingly “modern” concerns such as climate change, advertising and universal health care, weighing how Jewish legal sources apply to them.

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#MindfulMondays

September 16, 2019

Join the workshop taking place at Brooklyn College on Monday nights!


“Weiss propounds ‘Open Orthodoxy’ in new book”

August 29, 2019

Fred Reiss, Ed.D. ● San Diego Jewish World

Reform Judaism in eighteenth century Germany and Hasidism in the Ukraine in the same century represent the first modern ruptures in traditional Judaism; the former due to European emancipation, the latter a spiritual revival movement. The freedoms granted by American democracy led to further balkanization, including Reconstructionist, Conservative, and Humanistic Judaism. Orthodox Judaism is not without its own divisions, such as Haredi Jews and the Modern Orthodox.

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Was Yosef on the Spectrum?

August 25, 2019

Professor Michael Fitzgerald, M.D., FRC Psych, M. Inst. Psychoanal. 

Professor Samuel J. Levine’s book, Was Yosef on the Spectrum?, is a magnificent scholarly work and most interesting.  Levine sets out the diagnostic issue very clearly and very carefully, and his analysis of the character of Joseph is very persuasive.  Overall, I came to the conclusion that the book’s thesis stands up to scrutiny, and that the title is probably correct.

Professor Fitzgerald was the Henry Marsh Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Trinity College, Dublin, and the first Professor of Child Psychiatry in Ireland.  He has a doctorate in the area of autism and has been a researcher in this area since 1973.  He has clinically diagnosed over 2600 individuals with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome.  

The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man

August 4, 2019

Ben Rothke Jewish Link of New Jersey

This is volume three of Amsel’s encyclopedia series. Here, he covers a wide range of topics on the interpersonal level including subjects from business ethics, modesty with dress, self-defense, to peer pressure, physical beauty and ugliness; privacy vs. community, and much more.

At about 5-10 pages per topic, Amsel does an excellent job of surveying the topic. He provides copious sources for those that want to do a deeper dive in the topic. This is a most worthwhile reference.