October 19, 2017
Review by Lawrence Kobrin on Lookstein Bookjed Digest
Conversion to Judaism, once relatively rare, has now become something encountered in many circumstances and families. There has been considerable “politicization” and controversy concerning the process and requirements. In all of the controversy, the needs and strivings of the sincere individuals who seek conversion are sometimes overlooked. Historically, some works for this purpose were published, but are primarily in Hebrew and not generally available. It is to the needs and concerns of contemporary converts that a fascinating recent book is addressed.
Rabbi Michael Broyde’s work, A Concise Code of Jewish Law for Converts is what its title suggests, but much more. Drawing on many years of Read the rest of this entry »
October 17, 2017
Written by Alan Jay Gerber.
Originally appeared in The Jewish Star on October 8, 2017.
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 »
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
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
September 25, 2017
Review by Aviad Bodner that originally appeared in the Lookstein Education Book Review Digest
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.
September 10, 2017
Originally published in The Times of Israel on September 7, 2017
by Ben Rothke
It may be a stretch, but I’d propose that Ludwig Wittgenstein would really like Rabbi Jason Weiner. Wittgenstein explored the relationship between language and reality. While not a book on language and reality per se; in Jewish Guide to Practical Medical Decision-Making (Urim Publications 978-9655242782), Weiner notes that many of the disconnections between clergy and medical professionals are often in the language they use.
Weiner writes that when seeking to clarify on issues related to medical ethics; effective communication is essential. Little progress can be made if the religious and medical communities are unable to communicate.
To that, Weiner delineates the many critical terms needed to make those effective medical decisions. Some of them include value vs. sanctity, infinite vs. relative value, pain vs. suffering, and more.
An important nuanced point he makes is that pain is usually addressed medically, while Read the rest of this entry »
January 16, 2017
A Collection of Light-Hearted Autobiographical Stories
By Martin Lockshin
The State of Israel appropriately takes pride in its many achievements. In technology, science, research as well as militarily, Israel’s success seems unprecedented, especially considering its small population. Advanced Jewish studies and many varied forms of Jewish culture thrive. Historians say that never before in history has such a high percentage of Jews had expert-level knowledge of Jewish texts.
On the social level, however, the picture in Israel is far from rosy. While Israel’s raison d’être is the ingathering of exiles to build a new society together, serious tensions abound between Jews who are Ashkenazi and Sephardi, religious and secular, and haredi (ultra- or fervently Orthodox) and non-haredi. Women’s rights are more fraught than in most western democracies, because of the religious-secular divide and the lack of separation of religion and state. Israeli supporters and opponents of the settlements often do not even talk about their differences – it’s just too painful. Tensions between the 80 per cent of the population who are Jewish and the 20 per cent who are Muslim or Christian are part of everyday existence. Read the rest of this entry »
December 13, 2016
By Dov Peretz Elkins
“Who Stole My Religion?” is a thought-provoking and timely call to apply Judaism’s powerful teachings to help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path. While appreciating the radical, transformative nature of Judaism, Richard Schwartz argues that it has been “stolen” by Jews who are in denial about climate change and other environmental threats and support politicians and policies that may be inconsistent with basic Jewish values. Tackling such diverse issues as climate change, world hunger, vegetarianism, poverty, terrorism, destruction of the environment, peace prospects in Israel, and American foreign policy, he offers practical suggestions for getting Judaism back on track as a faith based on justice, peace, and compassion. He urges the reader to reconsider current issues in line with Judaism’s highest values in an effort to meet the pressing challenges of today’s world.
Right now the new Trump administration is on the cusp of deciding whether climate change is real, and human-created, or not. The President-elect should read this book, and he will be convinced beyond doubt that there is so much more that we humans and governments must do to save our planet.
Read the rest of this entry »