Scholarly Man of Faith – review

May 8, 2019

Yaakov (Jack) Bieler ● Jewish Book Council

This col­lec­tion of aca­d­e­m­ic papers on the teach­ings of Rab­bi Joseph P. Soloveitchik devel­oped from a joint con­fer­ence that took place in 2012 at Yeshi­va Uni­ver­si­ty in New York and Bar Ilan Uni­ver­si­ty in Tel Aviv. (A com­pan­ion vol­ume of Hebrew-lan­guage papers from the con­fer­ence is forth­com­ing.) Reflect­ing the Torah U’madda (Tora­hand sec­u­lar knowl­edge) poly­math that R. Soloveitchik him­self embod­ied, the papers rep­re­sent many dis­ci­plines, all viewed from both a Jew­ish and sec­u­lar per­spec­tive, includ­ing phi­los­o­phy, hermeneu­tics, his­to­ry, and literature.

In a wide-rang­ing essay, Dr. David Shatz notes that while it is com­mon­ly believed that R. Soloveitchik pub­lished rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle dur­ing his life­time, this view is erro­neous; in fact, the Toras HoRav Foun­da­tion has been sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly issu­ing vol­umes of R. Soloveitchik’s talks, devel­oped from audio tapes and man­u­scripts, that have enabled schol­ars and layper­sons alike to delve deeply into and com­ment on his ideas. Many of the papers in this vol­ume draw upon these writ­ings. Shatz also spec­u­lates as to why R. Solove­ichik has attract­ed much greater inter­est since his pass­ing in 1993, par­tic­u­lar­ly among non-Ortho­dox and even non-Jew­ish schol­ars. Shatz’s ency­clo­pe­dic sum­ma­ry of the many arti­cles that have been pub­lished con­cern­ing R. Soloveitchik’s writ­ings pro­vide a won­der­ful resource for those who wish to study these mat­ters fur­ther. Oth­er notable essays include Ephraim Kanarfogel’s dis­cus­sion of R. Soloveitchik’s uncan­ny knowl­edge of lost Ger­man Tosafist Halachic mate­r­i­al, and Shi­ra Weiss’s paper apprais­ing the influ­ence on R. Solove­ichik of the medieval thinker Judah HaLevi.

Aca­d­e­m­ic papers are not writ­ten for the casu­al read­er, and some of the ter­mi­nol­o­gy and cita­tions in this vol­ume can prove daunt­ing. How­ev­er, read­ers seek­ing to seri­ous­ly engage with these thought­ful pre­sen­ta­tions of R. Soloveitchik’s vast and eru­dite con­tri­bu­tions to mod­ern Jew­ish thought are sure to benefit.

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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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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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Pesach Haggadah – A Creative Approach

April 14, 2019

Jonathan Kirsch ● Jewish Journal

An emoji can be seen as a contemporary revival of the hieroglyphics that were so prominent in ancient Egypt. And so, as we recall the flight from Mitzrayim during our third-millennium seders, what could be more appropriate than “The Emoji Haggadah” (KTAV), which tells the tale entirely in playful and inventive images? It’s the handiwork of Martin Bodek, a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and co-founder of TheKnish.com, which has been described as “a Jewish version of The Onion.” 

To be sure, “The Emoji Haggadah” is more of a game than a haggadah, but it will surely engage the lively interest of younger participants and enliven the seder for everyone even if, on the other hand, the challenge of decipherment isn’t going to make your seder any shorter. But, just as the Rosetta Stone was the key to decoding Egyptian hieroglyphics, the author provides some helpful tips for translation as well as the complete text of a traditional haggadah in both Hebrew and English.


The Passover Story – in Emojis

April 12, 2019

Adrianna Chaviva Freedman ● The Schmooze, Forward

It’s the illustrated Haggadah like you’ve never seen it before, and it’s bound to cause conversation at your Seder.

Coming out just in time for Passover, author, IT specialist and language-lover Martin Bodek of Passaic, NJ has created a Hagaddah using only emojis. With certain pictograms placed together in a specific order, the reader gets the story of the Jews leaving Egypt without ever reading a word.

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Add some fun to your Pesach seder this year with the Emoji Haggadah!

April 11, 2019

Mackenzie Haun ISJL Education Newsletter

“If you (and maybe your Gen Z kids) are looking for a challenge, this haggadah is written entirely in Emojis, down to the page number. If you’d rather decode Emojis than Hebrew, this could be fun for you. Or, it could just be a fun coffee table book.”


New Review – Emoji Haggadah

April 9, 2019

Ben Rothke The Times of Israel

If there was an award for most unique haggadah, that would certainly go to The Emoji Haggadah by Martin Bodek. An emoji is a graphic symbol that represents an idea or concept. From smiley faces to coats, animal and more, there are thousands of emojis in use.

In his haggadah, Bodek uses emojis to replace the words. The job of the reader is to translate those emojis back into their native language. It’s a cute concept and an interesting approach to pique the interest of someone who may not be so attracted to a traditional haggadah. While this haggadah is likely best for the under-35 crowd, it could also be a great way for grandchildren to interact with their older, and often emoji-oblivious grandparents. For those involved in Jewish outreach, The Emoji Haggadahcould be quite effective in creating a non-threatening approach to the Passover experience.

One of the children mentioned in the Haggadah is the one who does not know how to ask a question. At the seder, try using The Emoji Haggadah and you may find out they do indeed know who to ask. It’s just a matter of finding the right approach to use, and for some, The Emoji Haggadah could be that approach.