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.

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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 »


Celebrating the Life & Work of Rabbi Dr. Yitz Greenberg

October 15, 2017

Hear Rav Shmuly Yanklowitz explain why you should read A Torah Giant: The Intellectual Legacy of Rabbi Dr. Irving (Yitz) Greenberg – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leFVDubJIlU&feature=youtu.be

 

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A Torah Giant: The Intellectual Legacy of Rabbi Dr. Irving (Yitz) Greenberg

Edited by Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz
Foreword by Rabbi Avi Weiss
Introduction by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin


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. 

 

 

 

 


Book Review: Jewish Guide to Practical Medical Decision Making

September 25, 2017

 

Review by Aviad Bodner that originally appeared in the Lookstein Education Book Review Digest

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Rabbi Jason Weiner’s book Jewish Guide to Practical Medical Decision Making is an extremely helpful guide for any educator teaching the subject of Refuah V’Halacha or Jewish Medical Ethics. His ability to write in a fashion that would be useful to those who are familiar with Rabbinic literature and those who are not is praiseworthy. The author covers many topics, from beginning of life questions such as defining Maternity in a case of surrogate mother or egg donor, until the question of the determining the moment of death and the possibility of organ donation, and everything in between.

In addition to the detailed discussion on the Jewish law regarding these delicate and sensitive matters (and the extensive endnotes following each chapter), Rabbi Weiner shares with us his personal experience as a chaplain, opening for us a window into a fascinating world of Jewish medical decision making.

Rabbi Aviad Bodner teaches Jewish Medical Ethics at Ramaz High School, and serves as the Rabbi of the Stanton Street Shul on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

 


NEW Machzorim for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur

September 13, 2017

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Silvia Fishbaum, author of the upcoming Dirty Jewess, remembers her mentor Ludovit Feld

February 14, 2017

9789655242775The unusual bespectacled face of a little 40-year-old man with a black cap atop his head leaving Auschwitz together with surviving children is captured in one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century. His tiny body is seen onscreen leaving the camp every day in an endless loop at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.

Far from being forgotten or remembered only as prisoner A-7740, Ludovit Feld (or Lajos Baci – Uncle Lajos) is, twenty-five years after his death, widely recognized and even revered.

This little giant of an artist spent his entire life painting and portraying the people and daily life in his beloved Kassau (Kosice) – the second-largest city in the eastern part of Slovakia, known for its rich Jewish history. He was also an art teacher who taught children how to draw with their heart and many of his students made names for themselves in the world of art.

Feld had three strikes against him: He was a Jew, a dwarf, and poor. The ninth child in his family, he was the only one stricken with a handicap. As an adult he barely reached a height of four feet and the bullying he suffered during a time of growing anti-Semitism was almost too much for his small shoulders to bear.

In the spring of 1944, when he turned 40, Feld’s family and the other Jews in Kosice were loaded onto truck beds and driven to Teglagyar (“brick factory” in Hungarian) on the outskirts of the city, which served as a Jewish ghetto. Nearly thirteen thousand Jews were crammed into that small area.

As it turned out, Ludovit’s name was not on the deportation list due to the intervention of an art student of his who happened to work as a typist in the local Gestapo office. She deliberately omitted his name in the hope of sparing him from almost certain death.

Family was very important to Ludovit, so after a sleepless night he filled his little backpack with art supplies and walked to the brick factory ghetto. His family was happy to be reunited with him but knew his chances of survival were much greater outside the ghetto gates. Every day he would sit on his little stool drawing countless scenes of daily life in the ghetto, portraying the despair and the grief and the ever-present armed guards.

When they were deported to Auschwitz, Feld, because of his size, was assigned to the children’s barracks housing the twin boys known to history as the “ Twins of Auschwitz,” victims of the unspeakably sadistic experiments of the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele. Although he never had any children of his own, Feld became a father figure to all the twins. He rescued fifteen boys he believed wouldn’t survive the last death march by hiding with them for ten days and nights under the lowest bunks on the frozen ground. The boys in their testimonies all referred to Ludovit as their savior.

Feld’s entire family, with the exception of a sister and a brother, perished in Auschwitz. After the war he returned to his beloved city where he lived alone until his death.It was in Auschwitz that Mengele discovered Feld’s talent and, together with Czech artist Dina Gottlieb and Polish photographer Wilhelm Brasse, became part of the team drawing and documenting the doctor’s hideous experiments. Because Feld was a dwarf he was also subject to Mengele’s depravity. Adding insult to injury, Mengele demanded that Feld draw portraits of him so often that Ludovit could practically do it with his eyes closed. Read the rest of this entry »