Insights from the Rabbi Who Wrote the Book on ‘Open Orthodoxy’

Jonathan Kirsch ● Jewish Journal

“Orthodoxy” with a capital “O” is a misunderstood and misused word in Judaism. Modern Orthodoxy is used to identify the mainstream of strictly observant Judaism, of course, but “ultra-Orthodox” is an adjective that is applied to the Charedi, Chasidic and Yeshivish movements in Judaism, each of which is distinct from the others. 

So, where does “Open Orthodoxy” fit into the Jewish world?

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Review: The Just Still Lives by His Faith

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: Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man

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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“Weiss propounds ‘Open Orthodoxy’ in new book”

Fred Reiss, Ed.D. ● San Diego Jewish World

Reform Judaism in eighteenth century Germany and Hasidism in the Ukraine in the same century represent the first modern ruptures in traditional Judaism; the former due to European emancipation, the latter a spiritual revival movement. The freedoms granted by American democracy led to further balkanization, including Reconstructionist, Conservative, and Humanistic Judaism. Orthodox Judaism is not without its own divisions, such as Haredi Jews and the Modern Orthodox.

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The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man

Ben Rothke Jewish Link of New Jersey

This is volume three of Amsel’s encyclopedia series. Here, he covers a wide range of topics on the interpersonal level including subjects from business ethics, modesty with dress, self-defense, to peer pressure, physical beauty and ugliness; privacy vs. community, and much more.

At about 5-10 pages per topic, Amsel does an excellent job of surveying the topic. He provides copious sources for those that want to do a deeper dive in the topic. This is a most worthwhile reference.

The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values, Between Man and Man

Midwest Book Review ● The Judaic Studies Shelf

Rabbi Dr. Nachum Amsel is the director of education at the Destiny Foundation and the author of The Jewish Encyclopedia of Moral and Ethical Issues and The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values. With “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man” Rabbi Amsel provides a continuation to his widely praised “Encyclopedia of Jewish Values”.

“The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man” is a deftly organized compendium of Jewish values and ethics that deal with human interaction. The topics addressed in this work include Jewish attitudes to leadership, business ethics, modesty with dress, self-defense, peer pressure, family, friendships, and more.

Gleaning from the Bible and classic Jewish texts, as well as later authorities such as Maimonides, Nachmanides, Rashi, and the Code of Jewish Law, “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man” is accessible to readers of many backgrounds.

“The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man” covers a veritable compendium topics that range from: Animals – How Jews Should Relate; Antisemitism and Amalek; Business Ethics; Civil Disobedience; Climate Change – Is It a Jewish Issue? and Drugs, Alcohol & Marijuana – Are They Ever Permitted in Judaism?; Ethics of Torture in Judaism; Family – the Key to Jewish and World; Redemption; Friendship; Getting Old, Being Old and Senility; to Going Beyond What is Required: Good Idea or Obligatory?; Honesty and Cheating; Human Dignity, Human Embarrassment, and Humiliating Oneself; Individuality and Conformity; Jewish Happiness; Jewish Hospitality – Hachnasat Orchim; Jewish Leadership – What is It?; Universal Healthcare (Obamacare) from the Jewish Perspective; and so much more!

Critique: Deftly organized alphabetically from Advertising to War, “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man” is enhanced for easier access with a five page Index and a complete listing of Hebrew Sources. An impressively organized and presented work of meticulous and exhaustive scholarship, “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values: Between Man and Man” is unreservedly recommended for personal, synagogue, community, college, and university library Judaic Studies collections and supplemental curriculum reading lists.

Waste Not, Want Not Kosher Cookbook

Midwest Book Review ● The Cookbook Shelf

In “Waste Not, Want Not Kosher Cookbook: Creative Ways to Serve Yesterday’s Meal”, author and kosher cooking expert Yaffa Fruchter promotes a unique and exciting approach to making leftovers new again in palate pleasing, appetite satisfying, kosher dishes suitable for any and all dining occasions.

Boasting a collection of over 120 beautifully illustrated and innovative recipes, “Waste Not, Want Not Kosher Cookbook” is culinary compendium that offers a comprehensive guide of the best, safest, and most delicious ways to use what’s on hand and eat well for kosher households. To curb her own food-waster’s guilt, Yaffa developed creative ways of using available ingredients to produce excellent new dishes that will change the way you look at last night’s meals — including 30 recipes that use cooked chicken, 15 that use bread and challah, and so much more!

Critique: A unique and superbly organized cookbook that is inspiring to plan kosher menus and meals using leftovers, “Waste Not, Want Not Kosher Cookbook” is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, family, and community library ethnic cookbook collections.

Scholarly Man of Faith – review

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.

A Torah Giant – new review

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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