“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 

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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.


Genesis: ‘From The Heart of a Lion’

October 17, 2017

 

Written by Alan Jay Gerber.

Originally appeared in The Jewish Star on October 8, 2017. 

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One of the most charismatic young rabbis in education today is Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, the Mashgiach Ruchani at the DRS High School in Woodmere. Rabbi Cohen has assembled in book form (“From The Heart of a Lion,” Penina Press) a series of eloquent and timely essays themed to each parasha in Bereshis. The content of each chapter fully lives up to the rabbi’s reputation of combining his analytic learning style with anecdotes relating to life’s experiences.

In Noach, next week’s parasha, Rabbi Cohen relates a personal relationship to demonstrate respect for authority especially in terms of religious reverence and mentorship.

The rabbinical authority in this essay was HaRav Nosson Finkel, zt”l, rosh yeshiva of the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem, who was, in Rabbi Cohen’s words, the “foundation of my life as a Jew.”

The relationship that Rabbi Cohen describes illustrates the author’s style and the greatness of his subject.

“From the time I began to Read the rest of this entry »


Why does Yom Kippur end with “Hashem Hu Ha-Elokim”?

September 28, 2017

To hear some potential answers, check out this video from “Ohr HaShachar: Torah, Kabbalah and Consciousness in the Daily Blessings” author David Bar-Cohn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zF9byjr6Ea8

 

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Rabbi David Bar-Cohn holds an MA in clinical psychology and maintains a psychotherapy practice. He also works in music and video production and is the creator of a children’s musical video series. 

 

 

 

 


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

 


In Tribute to Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein

April 22, 2015

Religion, I was otherwise taught, stems from the most sophisticated and complicated thinking. It probes the most difficult quandaries of human existence, metaphysical presence and purpose, identity, and spiritual makeup. It seeks to bridge ancient devotions with contemporary sensibilities. It seeks to embrace both the particularistic and humanistic aspects of nationality. It aims to authenticate and guide our creativity and drive for success in all fields of human endeavor. It is more relevant and needed than ever in the modern age.

I learned much of this complex approach to religious thinking from Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein, dean of the multi-faceted and magnificent Har Etzion hesder yeshiva in Gush Etzion. Last Friday, I was privileged to join more than 1,500 of Rabbi Lichtenstein’s students and alumni in a Torah conference marking his 80th birthday.

Since moving to Israel from America more than forty years ago, Rabbi Lichtenstein has taught the highest-level Talmud, halacha and philosophy to his tens of thousands of students. He did so while simultaneously validating their service in the IDF as a religious obligation and their subsequent pursuits of university education as a natural outgrowth of their religious personalities. Himself a former professor of English literature, he has taught that intellectual openness is a hallmark of true Orthodoxy, alongside single-minded devotion to Torah study and adherence to halachic boundaries and values.
Read the rest of this entry »


Special curriculum on Jewish preparation for burial

March 12, 2015

Rochel Berman of Boca Raton — a member of the Boca Raton Synagogue Chevra Kadisha (sacred burial society) and consultant dignity6hiResto the Torah Chevra Kadisha in Boca Raton — has embarked on a trailblazing project to develop a curriculum and study guide for Jewish high school students to learn about the Jewish preparation for burial.

Berman has partnered with Rabbi Jonathan Kroll, head of school at Weinbaum Yeshiva High School (WYHS) in Boca Raton, to introduce the eight-session course titled “The Final Journey: How Judaism Dignifies the Passage.”

The program will be launched today and will continue through March 26, highlighted by a field trip on March 16 to Levitt Weinstein Funeral Home in Coconut Creek.

Berman’s goal is to demonstrate the course at WYHS — the pilot course will be taken by 28 girls in the WYHS senior class — and then to disseminate it to Jewish high schools in all streams of Judaism throughout the English-speaking world.

Rabbi Kroll said: “I’ve been involved in Jewish education on the high school level for twenty years and this is the first time that I’ve ever dealt with this topic in a meaningful way. I believe that engaging students in the process of understanding the Jewish approach toward the end of life will lead students to live a more engaged and meaningful Jewish life.” Read the rest of this entry »