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? Monday, December 11, 2017


Think About It

When Yankie Schwartz e-mailed me an advance copy of his new book Contemplations: Wisdom for Living (published by Menucha Publishers) for review, I decided to print out 50 pages to read over Shabbos. After all, I reasoned, 50 pages of mussar and hashkafah essays would be enough for me to form a first impression. Boy, was I wrong.

The Ups and Downs of Life in Israel (Book Review)

Choosing Life in Israel evinces what it means to be emotionally, spiritually, and viscerally drawn, as a Jew, to the siren song emitted by Israel.

Title: Jewish Identity: Who is a Jew?: Modern responses and opinions on the registration...

Published originally in 1965, this reissue of a classic is now more relevant than ever. Jewish law legislates that a child is Jewish if the mother is Jewish, or one who had converted to Judaism according to specific halachic requirements. Jewish identity is thus not merely sociological and demographic (if Jews live in the land of Israel) nor ethnic (differences in customs, folkways, and liturgy and practice of Ashkenazi Jews vs. Sephardic Jews), but rather determined by a maternal hereditary religious blood covenant.

Title: Movers & Shakers

You’ll never get anything you need or want if you don’t ask. You have to ask the questions. Treasure this advice, because it’s one of the best you’ll get in life. At times it’s thorny and complicated to ask another for something – what if he says no and your request is rebuffed. Rejection is hard to take. And what if you’re imposing or the requestee has a hard time saying no? But you’ll also never get a “yes” without first asking.

Book Reviews

It might still be two weeks to Pesach, but is never too early to start thinking about Afikomen presents.

A Chassidic Classic For Readers Of All Backgrounds

Reading Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein’s Essays On the Weekly Parsha Based on Nesivos Shalom I could not help thinking of the old warning that “a young man who wishes to remain an unbeliever cannot be too careful of his reading.”

Title: Without Red Strings Or Holy Water: Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah

Rabbi Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) was a halachist par excellence, philosopher, physician, and a political leader of the Jewish community at the ibn Ezra Synagogue of Egypt. Born in Cordovero, Spain and caused to flee a fanatical Muslim sect, the Rambam travelled to Morocco, Eretz Yisrael, Alexandria, and then served as a physician in the court of the Sultan in Cairo Fostat.

Title: In One Era, Out the Other A Memoir of 20th-21st Century Jewish Life

Each one of us finds ourselves at the center of six generations of history. We hear the echoes of our grandparents’ era and see the beginnings of that of our grandchildren and we hope and endeavor to be the fulfillment of the hopes of one and the inspiration of the other.

You Can Tell This Book By Its Covers

You can tell Rabbi Yossy Goldman’s book From Where I Stand: Life Messages from the Weekly Torah Reading by its covers. The front cover is a photograph of a rabbi in a shul that is full of light.

Title: A Neuropsychologist’s Journal: Interventions and “Judi-isms”

I was recently invited to review A Neuropsychologist's Journal: Interventions and “Judi-isms.” Normally this wouldn't take me long as I would get the gist of the book by quickly skimming through it. Instead I found myself engrossed in reading this book word by word, cover to cover. The short chapters had me hungrily turning the 459 pages for more, and at times, I just could not put it down.

NY Book Takes Top 2012 National Jewish Book Award

A history of New York Jewry took Jewish book of the year honors in the 2012 National Jewish Book Awards.

Title: Harry Fischel: Pioneer of Jewish Philanthropy: Forty Years of Struggle for a Principle...

The Jewish people have been blessed with a plethora of biographies and memoirs about our rabbis, educators, philanthropists and community leaders. Unfortunately, many that were published in previous generations have been lost to history, and the impacts that many noteworthy individuals had on our people have been largely forgotten.

Title: Lexical Studies in the Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Inscriptions: The Collected Essays...

This excellent, delightful and lucid collection represents some of the best in academic research. Philological, lexicographical, linguistic, epigraphical, cultural, mythological, ritualistic, and historical knowledge are informed by virtuosity in comparative ancient Semitic languages. These erudite studies by the high-powered academic scholarship of Hayim Tawil – a professor of Hebrew languages and literature at Yeshiva University – shed light on Biblical Hebrew, the whole field of Ancient Near Eastern studies, medieval exegetical traditions, and the reception history of the Biblical text from antiquity to the present day.

Title: The Rarest Blue

I’ve always had an interest in the intersect between halacha, history, and archaeology. It is this interest that led me to research and write about the status of Purim in modern-day Israeli cities that are adjacent to ancient cities that had a wall around them in the days of Yehoshua Bin Nun. I concluded, in regards to Beit Shemesh at least, that there is much merit in observing a second day of Purim, on the 15th of Adar.

Title: Between 10 and 5 with Dad – Keeping the Fifth Commandment

No one likes to dwell about loss, or delve into the nitty-gritty issues and emotions that come along with losing a loving parent to a horrible illness. However life happens, and the sad truth is that many people every day lose parents to illness or age. It's the facts of life.

Title: Lilmod Ulelamed

In my weekly Jewish Press column, “Dear Dr. Yael,” I occasionally recommend books that will enhance shalom bayis, parenting skills and the quality of the Shabbos table. Lilmod Ulelamed, eloquently written by Rabbi Mordechai Katz, is a newly revised and expanded version of the original that was published by Feldheim Publishers in 1978. It is a book that can truly improve your Shabbos table.

Title: One Shot

ne Shot, authored by M. Wiseman, is an emotional drama that focuses on issues faced by some teens nowadays. In Suburbia, U.S.A., lived three extraordinary young men, Baruch, Nadav and Rafi. Nadav and Rafi have been friends forever, and Baruch joins the crew in his later teens. Pain is the bond that brings the threesome together. Baruch and Nadav have emotional pain and Rafi suffers from a physical pain; he discovered that he had advanced-stage cancer. The cancer was serious – too serious for the doctors, so they eventually stopped treating him.

Title: Not My Kind? I Don’t Mind!

When the Fine family (not related to the Feiners from Alone in Africa!) move into a new neighborhood, the twin siblings named Nesanel (again, not related to Nesanel Feiner) and Nechama set out on a very important mission – finding friends to rescue them from their boredom.

Title: Alone in Africa

Alone in Africa, by Avigail Sharer, is an original adventure story about three siblings named Nesanel, Penina and Chezky Feiner, who are, well, alone in Africa. Except they aren't entirely alone – they have animals and two battling African tribes to keep them company.

There Is A Season

The Holidays are over (please, no applause). But if you find yourself already missing them, rejoice, rejoice. A pleasurable new compendium of poetry by newcomer Yossi Huttler will keep you warm until Chanukah, Purim and – dare we say it too soon – Pesach once again come into view.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Receiving a difficult medical diagnosis can easily spell trauma, anguish, and hopelessness for a patient and his loved ones. Yet even amidst the dark skies of such a situation, Rabbi Y.Y. Rubinstein affectionately known simply as YY assures us that there is still hope.

Human Destiny And The Jewish People

Sadly, Dr. Zvi Faier, the gifted Torah scholar, theoretical physicist and poet, passed away in 2009, on the 10th of Tevet 5769, after a long illness borne with dignity and courage. There recently appeared the first of two posthumously published works that show the amazing breadth of his knowledge, insights and interests.

Briefcases And Baby Bottles: The Working Mother’s Guide to Nurturing a Jewish Home

Work-life balance has been in the media a lot lately. Anne-Marie Slaughter, a Princeton professor who served as the first female Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department, wrote a groundbreaking article in The Atlantic entitled “Women Can’t Have It All.” Slaughter writes about her struggle with balance—parenting and working, and the importance of being present, as well as the importance of absolute boundaries between work and parenting. As evidence—both of the compartmentalizing men are capable of and as an example of the type of behavior women should engage in more, Slaughter writes about Orthodox men she has worked with: “Come Friday at sundown, they were unavailable because of the Jewish Shabbat.”

Title: Land of My Past, Land of My Future

Title: Land of My Past, Land of My Future Author: Michael Kaufman Publisher: Targum Press, 2012

Title: The Lion Cub of Prague: Thought, Kabbala, Hashkafa from Gur Aryeh – The...

Rabbi Yehuda Loewe of Prague, known as Maharal, was one of the greatest lights that G-d has given to the Jewish people. Halachic authority and active communal leader, linguist and grammarian, philosopher and mystic, master of the totality of rabbinic literature and conversant in the arts and sciences as well, Maharal revealed new depths to the words of Chazal and uncovered layers of meaning that would otherwise have gone unnoticed.

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