Using history and logic, Rabbi Dee explains in “Transforming the World: The Jewish Impact on Modernity” how Judaism enhances daily life to make it more meaningful. Addressing the fundamental question of why bother being Jewish in a modern world, “Transforming the World” focuses on the tolerance and equality of all mankind that is fundamental in Judaism. With a combination of commandments, traditions, and history, Rabbi Dee shows how Jewish culture transforms a human life and the wider world for the better. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, “Transforming the World” is very highly recommended for personal, synagogue, community, and academic library Contemporary Judaic Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
This review originally appeared on Midwest Book Review
By Miriam Kates Lock
When Leo Dee was a rabbi in a small village n the British county of Hertfordshire, he organized a question-and-answer session on one Yom Kippur afternoon. More than 400 Jews of all ages sat before him, and one young man – a science student at a British university – raised his hand to ask a question.
“Rabbi, isn’t the Torah just an ancient text that is out-of-date and irrelevant in our modern age?” he asked.
It was the most basic of all questions a rabbi could be asked.
Transforming the World is Dee’s answer.
Why is the Torah still relevant after thousands of years? What does the Torah offer to contemporary Jews living in today’s word? In Transforming the World Dee begins not with a discussion of history or faith, but instead with a reflection on the subject of happiness – what happiness means to people and the line between happiness and Judaism.
Transforming the World is not a scholarly volume intended for Jews with an extensive background in Jewish law and Jewish study. Instead, it is a straightforward book that addresses Jews who want to know what Judaism has to offer them personally. In today’s atmosphere of self-disclosure and openness, the pursuit of happiness is a subject examined and discussed frequently in the media, literature and popular culture. Dee presents Judaism in this novel way in order to bring his main point across to his readers: Judaism is worth investigating and absolutely has something to offer the modern Jew.
The rest of the review can be found in the Jerusalem Post Magazine.
By Rabbi Johnny Solomon
If you are a teacher, parent or friend to someone wishing to learn more about their Jewish heritage, then you have probably been asked various questions about Jewish living and Jewish values. While some questions may have been easy to answer, others have been harder. However, it was on a Yom Kippur afternoon in the Radlett Centre when Rabbi Leo Dee was asked what is probably the most important question for any Jew: ‘Rabbi, isn’t the Torah just an ancient text that is out of date and irrelevant in our modern age?’.
This question – which should be presented to every Rabbi, Rebbetzin & Jewish educator when applying for a new job – gets to the roots of Jewish living. However, few people are actually prepared to ask this question, and few educators are necessarily prepared to answer it. As Rabbi Dee explains, ‘in the microsecond after he uttered those words, I sensed a level of relieved endorsement from within the packed auditorium. This was clearly a question that others had wanted to ask, but none had had the guts to pose.’ So how did this dynamic and thoughtful Rabbi answer this question? To find out, you’ll need to buy Transforming the World: The Jewish Impact on Modernity.
This refreshing book contains 66 short essays in which Rabbi Dee addresses this question from three different perspectives: How does the Torah transform my life for the better? How does the Torah transform the wider world for the better? What is the future of the Jewish people in a modern world? In each essay Rabbi Dee highlights how Judaism has transformed the world as we know it, and he explores ideas connected with education, charity, Shabbat, justice and much more. Though the book is primarily pitched towards teenagers and young adults, it is a book that, as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes in his approbation, can ‘inspire young and not-so-young Jews alike’.
Transforming the World provides a clear description of how Judaism has changed the world for the better, and it offers compelling arguments for Jews to be proud of their Jewish heritage.
This review originally appeared in Rabbi Johnny Solomon’s weekly newsletter.
by Dov Peretz Elkins, Jewish Media Review
“Transforming the World: The Jewish Impact on Modernity” asks pressing questions about Judaism in our generation, such as:
- What is so special about Judaism?
- Why is the Torah still valid after three millennia?
- How do ancient traditions and rituals in Judaism enhance everyday lives?
In a modern and educated generation where religion and commandments may seem archaic, Leo Dee examines the tremendous impact that Judaism continues to exert on all of humanity. With a combination of commandments, traditions, and history, Leo Dee shows how Jewish culture transforms your life and the world for the better.
Leo Dee served as a community rabbi in a village in South Hertfordshire and in a Jewish suburb of London for six years. He studied at Cambridge University and then at Yeshivat HaMivtar following a career in business and finance. He now lives in Israel with his wife and five children.