New Review – Jews in Medicine

February 11, 2019

Ben Rothke Jewish Link of New Jersey

The Contributions of Jews in Medicine

There’s an old joke where a Jewish grandmother is watching her two grandchildren. Someone asks her how old the children are. She replies with nachas that the doctor is 4 and the lawyer is 2. The joke underscores how important and pervasive the medical profession is within modern Jewish culture.

In “Jews in Medicine: Contributions to Health and Healing Through the Ages,” Ronald Eisenberg, MD, a professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and radiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, has written a fascinating work that details the substantial contributions of Jews in the medical field from Talmudic times to the current era.

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New Review – Six Days of Cosmology and Evolution

January 13, 2019

Ben Rothke ● Jewish Link of New Jersey

In “The Lonely Man of Faith,” Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik writes that he has never been seriously troubled by the problem of the Biblical doctrine of creation vis-à-vis the scientific story of evolution at both the cosmic and the organic levels. While it was not a problem for him, it can nonetheless be quite disconcerting for some people. For many others, the supposed scientific conflicts between the Chumash and modern science has them leaving the world of faith for the world of science.

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New Review – Was Yosef on the Spectrum

January 10, 2019

Dr. Deena R. Zimmerman ● Jewish Press

When I first saw the title of the book, I admit I did a double-take. What could be the connection between the biblical character about whom the Torah gives us so much personal information and a developmental condition that is currently on the rise? As a pediatrician, I certainly have heard a lot about “the spectrum” and at no point, before reading this book, did the idea cross my mind.

However, that is exactly the beauty of this book. It takes a story that we have heard/read/taught multiple times and makes one look at it in a new light. Chapter by chapter the author analyses the interactions of Yosef through the prism of autistic spectrum disorder. Some of the examples are rather convincing. The author’s argument helps understand why Yosef often seems so incredibly self-centered and why much of his family found him annoying. Others are somewhat less so, but nevertheless give one pause to think through the story again.

Some readers might feel uncomfortable assigning one of our great leaders a diagnosis that would render him less than perfect. However, throughout the book the author weaves in information about high functioning autism that shows that people with this diagnosis can achieve great heights. This is yet another important contribution of this book.

In summary, I found the book interesting and thought provoking and I would recommend it to all.


New Review – The Jewish Spiritual Path

January 9, 2019

Rabbi Simcha Snaid ● Jewish Press

The mission of this book is to illuminate the Jewish spiritual path by utilizing ideas from Kabbalah regarding the Holy Name of Hashem, the Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh. As the author explains, the goal of the Jewish spiritual path is essentially to become closer to the infinite G-d by developing certain middos (good spiritual qualities).

The four letters of the Name represent four aspects of G-d, and also four levels of spiritual growth. Just as G-d has more “outward” or revealed aspects, and more “inward” or hidden aspects, so too the Jewish spiritual path begins with basic middos and advances to more elevated middos. Interestingly, the last letter of the Name corresponds to the more outward and lower level, while the first letter of the Name corresponds to the more inward and advanced level. It turns out that the Jewish spiritual path involves following the “way of the Name” or, in Hebrew, DerechHashem. Hence, the title of the book.

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New Review – The Jewish Spiritual Path

January 9, 2019

Midwest Book Review ● The Judaic Studies Shelf

There is a leading belief in Kabbalah that the Tetragrammaton, the four lettered Hebrew name of God, serves as a model for the ideal of spiritual living. Each letter of the Name corresponds to a certain aspect of God and a specific phase of spiritual growth. At the same time, the four letters correspond to the four stages of the traditional Jewish morning prayer. This prayer serves as a spiritual exercise through which a person may cultivate the spiritual virtues associated with each of the four letters of God’s Name.

In “The Jewish Spiritual Path: The Way of the Name” by Rabbi Joshua Golding (Professor of Philosophy specializing in Philosophy of Religion and Jewish Philosophy at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky) combines a theoretical presentation of Kabbalistic concepts with practical guidance rooted in prayer to cultivate a deep spirituality based on the moral and mystical teachings of Judaism. “The Jewish Spiritual Path” provides both an extended commentary on prayer and an intellectually rigorous spiritual self-help book.

Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, “The Jewish Spiritual Path” is an extraordinary study that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, making it a valued and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, rabbinical, community, and academic library Judaic Studies collections and supplemental studies lists.


New Review – Scholarly Man of Faith

January 6, 2019

Daniel D. Stuhlman AJL Reviews

Rabbi Soloveitchik was a great teacher and philosopher whose views on Judaism and Zionism have influenced several generations of modern Orthodox Jews, as well as the general Jewish community. Even non-Jews have demonstrated interest in his ethical philosophy, such as the book written by the Jesuit priest, Christian Rutishauser for his doctoral thesis: The Human Condition and the Thought of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (Jersey City, Ktav, 2013).

The essays edited by Kanarfogel and Schwartz examine Soloveitchik’s views of ethics, Biblical hermeneutics, love and cognition, and the history of the Tosafists. The essays are scholarly with copious footnotes, and they are aimed at experts in the field. For this reader, the most interesting contribution was the last in the book: a bibliographic review of the scholarship on Soloveitchik’s thought. Overall, the essays demonstrate that Soloveitchik’s writings on Jewish law and the human experience, while sometimes dated, will continue to apply today and in the future.

This book is recommended for all libraries; however, the scholarly nature of the book may limit its broad appeal.


New Review – Equality Lost

January 1, 2019

David B Levy, Touro College, NYC AJL Reviews

The title Equality Lost is taken from Rav Henkin’s brilliant first chapter which is a reading of how zilzul (disrespect and belittlement, underestimation) by one person of another, in spite of their having been created equal, has tragic results. The book is divided into three sections: Torah commentary, Halacha, and Jewish Thought. Additionally, it includes a biography of Rav Henkin’s grandfather, Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu Henkin — the first biographical account to appear in English. Henkin is extremely erudite, and his book is punctuated by learned footnotes for following up with sources. This is an important work, and welcome second edition for the English-reading public unfamiliar with Henkin’s Hebrew writings.

In the Halacha section, Henkin demonstrates how to interpret Halacha in regard to women in this age of feminism. Sensitivity is given to Kol Isha (the voice of a woman) and women reciting kaddish and other prayers. He also deals with the conversion to Judaism of children in non-observant homes, and the killing of captured terrorists.

In the section on Jewish thought, great insights are offered into the role rechilut (tale bearing) played in the destruction of the second temple and the lessons to be learned regarding the state of Israel, and the true meaning of teshuvah related to current events. With regard to the glatt kosher ‘craze,’ Henkin demonstrates that what comes out of one’s mouth is more important than what goes into it.

Highly recommended for all libraries.