web analytics
April 1, 2015 / 12 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


‘How Can You Be A Jew If You Don’t Know Tanach?’: An Interview with Rabbi Berel Wein

Rabbi Berel Wein

Rabbi Berel Wein

“I have always considered autobiographical works somewhat presumptuous. Why should anyone be interested in the details of someone else’s life? Naturally, that observation applies to others’ autobiographies. But sharing my life experiences with complete strangers is different, for they’ll surely value my story.”

Thus begins Teach Them Diligently: The Personal Story of a Community Rabbi by Berel Wein, recently published by Maggid Books. Born in 1934, Rabbi Wein fills his autobiography with stories and observations from his upbringing in Chicago; his rabbinic career in Miami Beach; his tenure as executive vice president of the Orthodox Union in New York; his time as rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Shaarei Torah in Suffern, NY; and his experiences in Israel since making aliyah in 1997.

Rabbi Wein – who is best known for his lectures and films on Jewish history – currently heads the Destiny Foundation. In November, the foundation hopes to premiere episode five of Faith and Fate – The Story of the Jews in the 20th Century,” a 13-part documentary series based on Rabbi Wein’s book of the same name.

The Jewish Press: You begin your autobiography with a story about Israeli Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog, which, you write, has “continually inspired and challenged” you. What is that story?

Rabbi Wein: Rav Herzog came to Chicago after the Second World War and spoke in the Chicago yeshiva. He said he had just come from the pope in Rome and gave him a list with 10,000 names of Jewish children who had been sequestered in Catholic institutions during the war. He asked the pope to give him back the children, but the pope said he could not do so because all the children were baptized and once they were baptized they could not be raised in a different faith.

When Rav Herzog said that, he put his head down on the lectern and wept. And then he looked at all of us and said, “I can’t do anything more for those 10,000 children, but what are you going to do to help rebuild the Jewish people?” Later on, when we all went to shake his hand and receive a blessing from him, he said, “Don’t forget what I said, what are you going to do?” And that has reverberated within me all my life.

When most people hear your name, they think, “Ah, yes, the Jewish historian,” and yet, as your book makes clear, history wasn’t a career you chose. It essentially resulted from a fluke.

It wasn’t a fluke, it was accidental.

I was writing sefarim on the Talmud. Then one day in Jerusalem, a man came up to me – whom I never saw before or since – and said, “We’ve got plenty of people writing on the Talmud, but we don’t have anybody writing on Jewish history. You should write on Jewish history.”

That man – the prophet Elijah, I don’t know who it was – had an effect on me, and I began writing on Jewish history. I had always lectured on Jewish history, but I didn’t start writing until later.

But recording and distributing your lectures on Jewish history wasn’t exactly planned either.

No, it was not. I was giving a Jewish history class to women, and their husbands came and said they would also like a class. Many of them were physicians and did not have regular hours, so they asked me if they could send their tape recorders. I said certainly – especially since they had paid the registration fee – and after a while they came back and said, “You know, we circulate these tapes in the hospital to other doctors and everybody loves them. You should do something with them.”

About the Author: Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff reporter and author of “Movers and Shakers: Sixty Prominent Personalities Speak Their Mind on Tape” (Brenn Books).


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “‘How Can You Be A Jew If You Don’t Know Tanach?’: An Interview with Rabbi Berel Wein”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Obama Stops Punishing Egypt for Dumping Muslim Brotherhood Prez
Latest Indepth Stories
hurva

The rededication of the Hurva caused international hysteria.Arabs called the action a “provocation”

Photo from President Barack Obama's past visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

{Originally posted to author’s website, FirstOne Through} TRUST Trust is the bedrock of a functional relationship. It enables one party to rely on the other. A trust that includes both intention and capability permits a sharing of responsibility and workload. The relationship between US President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu started off badly and further […]

jabotinsky with sword

Jabotinsky said “Go To Hell” was a good retort to opponents of the Jewish people; fitting for Obama.

Obama Racine

Obama pulled off one of US history’s greatest cons,twice fooling a gullible electorate and most Jews

While in Auschwitz I felt a tangible intensity. I could sense that I was in a place of sheer evil.

Obama needs to wake up. The real enemy is not Netanyahu but Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad,IS

My beliefs & actions have led to numerous death threats against me; my excommunication by my church

In November 2014, Islamic Relief Worldwide was classified as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Erica Pelman is a spiritually-driven woman. She is founder and director of “In Shifra’s Arms” (ISA), an organization that offers aid to pregnant Jewish women of all religious backgrounds practically, financially and emotionally. Its arms are open to any pregnant woman in need whether single, divorced, separated, or from a financially-strapped family. “Presently, we are […]

Many so-called “humanitarian NGOs” frequently abuse Israel by applying false moral equivalencies

Israeli history now has its version of “Dewey Defeats Truman” with headlines from 2 anti-Bibi papers

In God’s plan why was it necessary that Moses be raised by Pharaoh, away from his own family&people?

In their zechus may we all come to appreciate that life is a fleeting gift and resolve to spend every precious moment of it as if it were the last.

More Articles from Elliot Resnick
Dr. Yael Ziegler

What I think is going on here is the Midrash is making a comment about Rut’s love for Naomi being some sort of reflection of how we have to love God.

HarperCollins’s omission was especially egregious because it is a major general and educational publisher.

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Nouril concluded he had no choice: He had to become more observant.

I was very pro-Israel, I was very proud of being Jewish, and I was living in New York at the time as a single man in my 20s and I was just looking for a little bit more.

A school voucher means the state is giving you a voucher to send your kid to whatever school you want. That might be problematic as far church-state issues are concerned.

It’s not an admiration. It is simply a kind of journalist fascination. It stands out, it’s different from more traditional Orthodoxy.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/how-can-you-be-a-jew-if-you-dont-know-tanach-an-interview-with-rabbi-berel-wein/2014/07/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: