Faith and Freedom – review

May 6, 2019

Yaakov (Jack) Bieler ● Jewish Book Council

Theologian and Jewish philosopher Rab­bi Eliez­er Berkovits (1908−92) was the author of many books of Jew­ish thought, his­to­ry, and phi­los­o­phy. For this new hag­gadah, edi­tor Reuven Mohl has select­ed pas­sages from these works to com­prise the com­men­tary that accom­pa­nies the tra­di­tion­al text.

The Passover seder has many com­po­nents, includ­ing rit­u­als, like Kid­dush (the sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion of the holy day being cel­e­brat­ed) and Hal­lel (psalms com­mem­o­rat­ing the Exo­dus expe­ri­ence); read­ing pas­sages from rab­binic lit­er­a­ture; and engag­ing in long stand­ing tra­di­tions — chil­dren ask­ing ques­tions, open­ing the door to wel­come the prophet Eli­jah, and recit­ing litur­gi­cal poems. Mohl has drawn from Rab­bi Berkovits’s incred­i­bly broad oeu­vre to pro­vide thought-pro­vok­ing insights per­tain­ing not only to the hag­gadah but also obser­va­tions that go beyond the text, includ­ing his strong advo­ca­cy for liv­ing accord­ing to halakah — Jew­ish law.

Inter­spersed with many of Rab­bi Berkovits’s more philo­soph­i­cal and the­o­log­i­cal state­ments are sto­ries and com­ments about the Holo­caust, which he expe­ri­enced first-hand. See­ing the top­ics play­ing off one anoth­er through­out the hag­gadah offers a unique insight into Rab­bi Berkovits’s expe­ri­ences and thinking.

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A Torah Giant – new review

May 2, 2019

Dov Peretz Elkins ● Jewish Media Review

A remarkable book, a page-turner. Hard to put down. This wonderful collection about the intellectual contributions of Rabbi Yitz Greenberg will be of interest to professionals and laypersons interested in Jewish life. Anyone who reads it will be inspired, uplifted and engaged.

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Engaging with the Author – Sam Levine

May 1, 2019

J.B. Holderness ● Yeshiva University Library Staff News

In December, Samuel J. Levine, Professor of law and director of the Jewish Law Institute at Touro College, published a book entitled Was Yosef on the Spectrum?: Understanding Joseph through Torah, Midrash, and Classical Jewish Sources. The book examines the behavior and relationships of Yosef through the lens of our modern understanding of autism. Our own cataloger Yosef Cohen submitted a review of the book to the author and received an appreciative response. The following are excerpts of the review and reply:

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Faith and Freedom

April 16, 2019

Dr. Ari Kinsberg ● Jewish Press

Eliezer Berkovits (1908-1992) remains one of the most important Jewish theologians of the twentieth century.

Born in what is today Romania, he received semicha at the Rabbinical Seminary of Berlin (where he was the talmid muvhak of the Seridei Eish) and a PhD in philosophy from the University of Berlin. While ministering as a respected rav in locales across the globe and later serving as the beloved chairperson of Jewish philosophy at Skokie’s Hebrew Theological College, Rabbi Berkovits also published an array of essays and books on halacha, philosophy and other topics of contemporary Jewish relevance. It is unfortunate that Rabbi Berkovits’ writings are today largely unknown to the larger Jewish public, even though the wisdom contained therein remains as relevant as ever.

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Insight Into Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Berkovits

April 16, 2019

Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot ● Jewish Standard

On the bookshelves of the contemporary young and not-so-young college-educated modern Orthodox Jew, one most often will find the theological works of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and his esteemed son-in-law, my revered teacher, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, both of blessed memory.

On another shelf one will probably find works of Rabbi Norman Lamm, the former president of Yeshiva University, as well as the increasingly popular (in both senses of the word) writings of Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. On another shelf one also may find some writings of Rav Kook and in some instances the newly translated works of Rav Shagar. These thinkers rightly occupy a pride of place in the pantheon of modern Orthodox thought leaders. The dominance of these voices, however, sometimes has come at the price of relegating other significant voices from the 1950s to the 1970s that contributed significant ideas to our thinking about the engagement of halachic Judaism and the modern world.

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The Haggadah, Symbolically Speaking

April 15, 2019

Steve Lipman ● The New York Jewish Week

On the cover of Martin Bodek’s new book about Passover, three small pictograms set against a stark white background catch the reader’s attention: a man speaking, a sea shell and a ram.

Welcome to “The Emoji Haggadah.”

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Faith and Freedom

April 14, 2019

Dov Peretz Elkins ● Jewish Media Review

Faith and Freedom Passover Haggadah presents selections of the writings of Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits, one of the major Jewish philosophers of the twentieth century, as a new and meaningful commentary for the Passover Haggadah. The Seder night experience will be enriched with the reading of the traditional telling of the Exodus along with Rabbi Berkovits’ insightful and refreshing ideas that address crucial topics for the modern era.

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