Books About Jews Who Make Us Proud – “Jews in Medicine”

October 13, 2019

Dinah Rokach ● Young Israel Shomrai Emunah of Greater Washington (Rosh Hashanaha Hashomer bulletin)

Follow the history of Jews in the Holy Land beginning in Talmudic times and through the Diaspora and to the State of Israel as you learn and take pride in the accomplishments of Jewish doctors throughout the ages. Read short biographies, most of them accompanied by black-and-white photographs and illustrations, that will inspire and make you proud.

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Review: Redeeming Relevance in the Book of Leviticus

October 3, 2019

Arthur G. Quinn AJL News and Reviews

The author is a rabbi and a writer on many aspects of Torah. This volume is the last in a series on all five books of the Torah and deals with Leviticus (or, as Rabbi Nataf refers to it throughout: Vayikra). Each of the five chapters is dedicated to an aspect of Vayikra. Chapter one is devoted to the interpretation of sacrifice that is relevant for contemporary practice. Chapter two discusses the integrity of Vayikra as a free-standing book in its own right. Chapter three focuses on ritual purity, dietary customs, and reproduction. Chapter four contends with sin and family matters, and chapter five presents Vayikra as a book of laws with few stories contained within its pages. This book is a brief commentary on Leviticus, but it carries a unique perspective. Footnotes are scattered throughout but no index or bibliography are provided.

This volume would be a worthwhile addition to any adult collection.


Review: The Just Still Lives by His Faith

October 2, 2019

David B Levy AJL News and Reviews

This insightful, well-written, original and important work is one of the best collections of over forty Torah essays in Biblical exegesis and Rabbinics in many years. As such, it is recommended for all libraries and to scholar and layman alike.

Munk is best known for translating Torah commentaries by commentators from the 15th to 18th centuries, but also included in this volume are a selection of his public lectures and independent research. Some of these essays have been published before (for example in L’Eylah, the organ of Jews College in England, or in “Ascent” of Tzefat). Most of the essays included here, however, appear for the first time, providing a great boon to readers and enabling them to benefit further from the breadth and depth of Munk’s Torah knowledge and scholarship. Moreover, the fact that this volume is in English will allow his research to reach a much wider audience.


Review: Faith and Freedom Passover Haggadah

September 27, 2019

Roger S. Kohn, Silver Spring, MD AJL News and Reviews

This a traditional Haggadah, with translation in English, supplemented by a commentary that is drawn from twelve books and three articles of Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits (1908–1992), a Modern Orthodox rabbi and educator. Almost two hundred excerpts are included here, and a quarter of these are from only four books, Faith after the Holocaust, 1973 (17 excerpts), Man and God, 1969 (13), God, Man, and History, 2004 (13), and Between Yesterday and Tomorrow, 1945 (11). The excerpts can be quite long, often over one or two pages, and introduced in the translation with a word or words in bold type; the same expression found in the translation is then used to introduce the excerpt. As the editor warns us in his introduction, the excerpts are all from published works “sometimes with abridgments and slight edits.”

Recommended to all readers interested in the writings of Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits.


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: Jews in Medicine

September 25, 2019

Ilka Gordon AJL News and Reviews

Jews in Medicine is a very interesting and readable discussion of the history of Jews in medicine and Jewish physicians. The book begins with the physicians and medical theories of the Talmudic era and ends with contemporary physicians both living and deceased. The first six chapters are divided by geographical location and period: for example, physicians in Christian lands, Spain, Italy, Provence, and Turkey during the Gaonic period and before and after the expulsion from Spain. There is also a brief discussion of the rise of independent Jewish hospitals in the United States (once 113 and now only 22) and the reason for their decline.

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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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