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August 28, 2016 / 24 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘book’

Book Review: The Spiritual Journey Of A Jewish Chaplain

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Life Support: Stories of My Chaplaincy and Bikur Cholim Rounds by Rachel Stein, 213 pages, (Lakewood, New Jersey: 2016), published by Israel Bookshop

 

“What do you mean you won’t do a baptism?” asked a nurse. “All of the other chaplains do!” Rachel Stein, working in a hospital with mostly non-Jewish patients, whom she prayed with and comforted, was put on the spot many times because she is Jewish. That didn’t keep her from completing the chaplaincy training. Now Rebbetzin Stein has written a book about her experiences as the co-founder of Bikur Cholim of Atlanta and as a Jewish chaplain.

In her moving introduction, Rachel, who has written eight children’s books, tells about losing her father at age four and how difficult it was to grow up without a father and grandparents. Rachel says she sought out the elderly. “I found the elderly to be cute, fun people who twinkled when they laughed and exuded unconditional love.” She was also so driven to visit the ill that at the age of 14 she volunteered in a cancer hospital, “drawing immense satisfaction from bringing sunshine into the patients’ days.”

When her mother became ill, Rachel was 25, married, had young children at home and was pregnant. Living two hours away from her mother’s home in Philadelphia, she hoped to visit often, but the drive was too much for her. Then a special friend, Elaine, offered to take her every week. This lasted for a month, enabling Rachel to be there on the day that her mother’s soul left this world.

“How can I ever repay you for what you did for me?” Rachel asked Elaine.

“When someone needs help, you be there for them,” said Elaine. “And that’s how you will repay me.” It’s obvious from reading Life Support that Rachel has repaid Elaine many times.

There was no organized bikur cholim society when Rachel and Michele Asa started one in Atlanta in the merit of a refuah sheilamah for Danny Miller, a father, aged 34, battling cancer. Everyone loved Danny and he loved them. Each morning he woke up to a sign in his bedroom: “Hello, G-d. It’s me, Dan Miller, reporting for service.”

Rachel Stein (seated) at a book signing for Life Support. Left to right: Rena Naghi and her daughter Janet Afrah, owners of Judaica Corner in Atlanta, where the book signing took place.

Rachel Stein (seated) at a book signing for Life Support. Left to right: Rena Naghi and her daughter Janet Afrah, owners of Judaica Corner in Atlanta, where the book signing took place.

Even while enduring chemotherapy, Danny did mitzvos for others, especially bikur cholim. With his warm smile and sunny disposition, he uplifted the sick. He also had a thirst for Torah. He arranged to learn with several chavrusos and was “…determined to master as much Torah as he could.” Later, everyone who visited Danny knew that he yearned to hear a new thought in Torah.

One day, Rachel received a call from his devoted wife. “We’re asking the community to come over today,” she said softly. “Danny wants to say goodbye.” Rachel writes about the day throngs of people came to the Miller’s house to tell Danny how much he meant to them and their children. “A minyan many times over formed around him, and our community experienced a second Yom Kippur.”

When Danny Miller passed away, the Bikur Cholim of Atlanta was dedicated in his memory.

Changing names for privacy, Rachel, in her vibrant, easy-to-read style, shares remarkable stories of volunteers and those they visit. The stories are vignettes – short but powerful. She takes the reader along with middle-school girls who spontaneously dance and sing at a nursing home. “I can still see the smiles of the girls as they locked eyes with their elderly friends,” writes Rachel. Titles of other vignettes about volunteers include: “Two Men on a Mission,” “The Perk Lady,” “A Southern Belle,” “Shidduch Services” and “A Pastrami Sandwich on Rye.”

One story, which Rachel titles, “The Call of the Shofar” is told in the voice of Chana, a woman in a rehabilitation facility after a serious fall. On Rosh Hashanah, Chana waited for Rabbi G. to blow shofar for her.

R.M. Grossblatt

Of The Book – June 2016

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Jewish Press Staff

Book Week in Israel

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Jewish Reader, Beware!

It’s Book Week in Israel, and I would like to ask a question. Why are so many Jewish writers in America screaming Leftists? Why do they consider their Israeli brothers “occupiers,” and champion the Palestinian cause? To be honest, I don’t follow the American literary scene anymore, but it seems to me that the Jewish writers who make headlines are the ones who take cheap shots at Israel and Jewish tradition. The novelist, Jack Engelhard, is just about the only American Jewish writer I know who still has his head on straight, and his heart in the right place, even though he’s a Jew in America.

When I was living in America, the big Jewish writers were Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer, Joseph Heller, Philip Roth, and others whose names I’ve forgotten. Arthur Miller was a great writer but he bit into the American Dream so much, he married Marilyn Monroe- the goddess of gentile America. Norman Mailer had eight gentile wives – no kidding. That’s really making it big! To the best of my knowledge, Joseph Heller’s two wives were gentile as well. One of his novels was a rowdy satire about King David, which I am sure he regretted having penned when he went up to novelist’s Heaven. Philip Roth opted for a gentile wife too. His nasty novel about a Jewish son who hated his overbearing Jewish mother was a huge bestseller. Apparently lots of Jewish children felt that way, as the number of copies sold attests. Too bad. After all, it does say, “Honor thy father and mother.” For Roth’s sake, I hope he publishes a retraction before he leaves this world. After all, Mrs. Portnoy wasn’t to blame for being so neurotic. She was a Jew in America, in a country she didn’t belong, trying to fit in to the foreign gentile culture around her – naturally she was schizophrenic and worried for her son. But Roth, like all the other American Jewish writers, didn’t know that the average Jew in America pops uppers and spends time on the couch precisely because he or she doesn’t belong in America to begin with. Even the Jewish writer, Isaac Bashevis Singer, who married a Jew, and wrote a wonderful novel about a baal tshuva, called “The Penitent,” ended his tale with an unusual author’s disclaimer, insisting that the hero of the novel was not, by any means, a self-portrait, and that he himself didn’t believe in Judaism at all.

In those days, the Palestinian issue didn’t dominate the news, so American Jewish writers took out their frustrations and guilt on the Jewish religion and on being

Jewish, as if that was a big scandal and sin. Now the self-hatred of Jewish writers has been projected away from themselves onto the State of Israel. Now that they have successfully assimilated out of being Jewish, they vomit their inner angst out on Medinat Yisrael.

This Book Week don’t waste your money on their dribble. They may know how to put sentences together, but not every writer with a Jewish mother is a Jewish writer. Jewish readers, beware!

Tzvi Fishman

New Book Draws Parallels Between Cold War and Israel, Iran, Nuclear Tensions

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

History doesn’t need to repeat itself – not when leaders and citizens understand and apply the lessons of the past. That’s the position of information systems expert, researcher and author Ozzie Paez. His recently published “Decision Making in a Nuclear Middle East” uses the Cold War as a template for understanding the risks of nuclear conflict in the Middle East if Iran becomes a nuclear power.

“The Cold War was not as ‘cold’ as many remember,” explains Paez. “More than once, the world came to the brink of catastrophe. Military and political leaders routinely made decisions in environments of high uncertainty, sometimes taking reckless risks with the lives of millions. Even lower ranking military officers sometimes faced tough decisions that could have led to a nuclear exchange. If you are among the many, including politicians, academics and policy makers, who believe that the Cold War turned out as it was destined and that history suggests a similar outcome for a nuclear Middle East, then this book should give you pause.”

Decision Making in a Nuclear Middle East: Lessons from the Cold War (PRNewsFoto/Ozzie Paez)

Decision Making in a Nuclear Middle East: Lessons from the Cold War

Amazon reviewer M E Niehoff agrees with Paez’s analysis, comparing the mutual deterrence mindset of the USSR and USA during the cold war and the “spatial and timing realities of a nuclear conflict in the Middle East. He concludes (and I agree),” Niehoff notes, “that mutual deterrence is not a valid concept for the Middle East. … It appears that unless current nuclear armed countries come together and take a unified hard line against nuclear proliferation in the world (probably very unlikely), eventual nuclear conflict may be inevitable.”

“Decision Making in a Nuclear Middle East” takes an “operational” view of history, and includes documents and interviews with key players from the Cold War. With the release of many classified materials from that era, it’s now possible to objectively assess the conditions and decision making processes behind pivotal nuclear crisis in hot spots like Korea, Berlin and Cuba.  They can help us put in context the emerging nuclear standoff in the Middle East and its implications for millions of lives in the region and beyond.

Amazon reviewer Ben Gilad notes that, “Ozzie’s analysis of the nuclear Middle East is based on a novel application of ‘benchmarking’ – a technique used in business to compare best practices. Dissecting the Soviet-US Cold War nuclear deterrence history with great clarity. … Paez shows how fickle and unreliable mutual deterrence can be in the Middle East context. This is one of […] if not the most insightful, concise, clear-eyed analysis I’ve read about the Middle East’s fragile balance of power.”

Paez is also the author of “Going Nuclear: The Influence of History and Hindsight on the Iranian Nuclear Negotiations.” His upcoming book, “Informed Decision Makers—And Other Myths and Fallacies,” will address informed decisions across time and industries to illustrate the challenges and possibilities inherent to information driven environments.

David Israel

Anne Frank’s Book of Fairytales Auctioned for $62,500

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

A book of fairytales that was once owned by Anne Frank has been sold at auction in New York for $62,500 by the Swann Auction Galleries on East 25th Street. The book is a German language copy of the 1925 edition of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” including Snow White and Hansel and Gretel. Anne Frank wrote her name and her sister Margot’s on the first page.

According to a spokesman for the auction house, the auction included half a dozen potential buyers and lasted a minute.

Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl,” which she wrote in an attic in Amsterdam from June 1942 to August 1944, hiding from the Nazis, has sold more than 30 million copies and translated into 67 languages. She dies in Bergen-Belsen in 1945. The Grim Brothers book was left behind in the Frank apartment when the family moved to their hiding place. It was bought by the Museum of World War II near Boston.

Kenneth Rendell, the museum’s founder, told the New York Times he plans to make the book would a centerpiece of the museum’s Holocaust collection, which includes other personal possessions belonging to members of the Frank family, alongside what he calls “very human pieces” from other concentration camp victims. These include the concentration camp pajamas worn by Josef Wolski, a prisoner in Auschwitz, Mauthausen and Buchenwald, and a chess set, made from rye bread by a prisoner at Auschwitz for an SS guard. The King piece on the brown German side was crafted to resemble Hitler.

David Israel

Judea and Samaria Wines To Be Included in New Guide

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

By Anna Rudnitsky/TPS

Yediot Books Publishing House will print a new edition of their 1997 wine guide that will include wines produced in Judea and Samaria.

Wines from Judea and Samaria had been included in Daniel Rogov’s widely respected Guide to Israeli Wines first published in 2005 and updated annually until the author’s death in 2011. Israel Hayom wine correspondent Yair Gat and wine consultant Gal Zohar filled the void this year with their publication of the New Israeli Wine Guide, but they had originally decided not to include wines from Judea and Samaria in the guide.

The project’s launch was celebrated with a special event in the Knesset. As an exception to regulations that generally forbid consumption of alcohol in the Israeli parliament, wines from Judea and Samaria were brought to the presentation, and a number of high-ranking guests made the Jewish blessing on wine and gave their blessing to the idea of a new guide.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett reminded those in attendance that Judean and Samarian territories had many wineries during Biblical times, and that while no wines were produced in the Land of Israel during the years of Muslim rule due to the Islamic prohibition on alcohol, “our generation is renewing the tradition that is more than 2000 years old.”

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein praised the idea of a new guide as yet another step in the fight against the boycott of Israeli products and suggested that consumers and political entities have equal power in this battle. “Whenever I go to a restaurant, I always ask if they have wines from Judea and Samaria. Once it becomes an issue of consumer demand and not simply about ideology, it can lead to changes in attitudes and policies,” Edelstein said.

Science Minister Ofir Akunis added that wines from Judea and Samaria are his personal choice because “they simply are good.”

“The territories of Judea and Samaria are the perfect place to cultivate grapes because they are at the right altitude and have the right weather conditions a number of wineries that produce excellent wines have been founded there in recent years,” Israel Wine Experience CEO Oded Shoham told TPS. He added, however, that these wines have faced difficulties reaching consumers because of the controversy over their place of origin. “Owners of Judea and Samaria wineries used to ask me to help sell their wines in Tel Aviv area stores and restaurants, but it really depends on the owner of the place and the political attitudes of his clients,” Shoham said.

Critics of the original decision not to include Judean and Samarian wines noted that besides the fact that it lent support to the boycott of products from Judea and Samaria, it was also illogical because many wineries inside the Green Line use grapes grown in Judea and Samaria.

“If you look at the number of awards received in international competitions by Israeli wines, including those from Judea and Samaria, it’s almost as disproportionate as with Nobel Prize laureates,” Amichai Luria, a Samaria winemaker attending the event, told Tazpit News Service (TPS).

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Pushing the Boundaries of Outreach

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

One of the most difficult challenges of the 21st century was made very clear by the recent Pew study on American Jews. The fact is that except for Orthodoxy – Jewry is shrinking. I need not go into the statistics. They have been discussed ad infinitum by just about everyone. The shrinkage is due to a combination of factors mostly having to do with the lack of any significant meaning attributed to Judaism by those devoid of a religious education. Young Jews even with the highest of ethical values see no value in the religion of their forefathers. They see themselves as ethical human beings – same as anyone else with ethical values. They see all religious ritual adding nothing to their sense of ethics.

The question arises – what do we do about that? As Orthodox Jews who understand the value of the Torah and the importance of following Halacha – how can we change this new secular Jewish paradigm?

There are those who would answer: Nothing! There is nothing we can do to significantly change the attrition away from Judaism the masses are undergoing… that there has been attrition one way or another in every generation. Although they might wish things were different, they say it is virtually impossible to influence the minds of the vast majority of Jews whose secular – even ethical values were formed by a society devoid of Torah.

They will therefore say that we Orthodox should instead turn inward and work on ourselves and that the future of Judaism rests with us. While I understand that mentality and would certainly agree that we all need to work on our ourselves – I strongly disagree that we ought to ignore the rest of Jewry. We are not talking about a few Jewish souls here. We are talking about the vast majority of them. Fully 90% of all American Jewry is not Orthodox. Are we simply to just write them off? I don’t think so.

Thankfully neither do all the outreach organizations. They have had much success in reaching out to our secular brethren. But it is still a drop in the bucket. We Orthodox remain only 10% of the total. We may be growing, but a lot of that is internal because of our higher birth rate. The amount of successful outreach is still relatively small.

One way to reach more people is by interdenominational interaction. The problem with that is that some of the greatest religious leaders of the 20th century – including Rav Soloveitchik – have forbidden doing that. They forbade religious interaction of any kind because it would grant them tacit recognition. We cannot be seen to recognize movements that legitimize heretical thought. I understand and appreciate that.

Which is why the actions of the well intentioned Yeshiva Chovevei Torah are so problematic. Outreach is what motivated them to host leaders of Reform and Conservative Judaism at a round table discussion during the installation of their new president, Rabbi Asher Lopatin. That certainly does seem to legitimize them. Both in the eyes of the leaders themselves and in the eyes of those who attended the session. While I support YCT’s intentions, I believe they have crossed a line here. As much as I would love to see cooperation between the denominations towards the goal of outreach that we all share – it cannot be at the expense of undermining our theology.

I know that YCT argues that such interactions do not validate heterodox movements. But it is impossible for those who attend to not see it that way – watching them all discuss their religious views as equals at the same table.So even though I agree with their motives, I disagree with what they did. That leaves the problem unsolved.

But there are other ways that we can participate with them and at the same time not be seen to recognize them. One way was when Yosef Reinman, a right wing Orthodox Rabbi from Lakewood, co-wrote a book with Amiel Hirsch, a Reform rabbi he had befriended… and then went on a book tour with him.

He was immediately – roundly criticized by the Agudah Moetzes for violating the ban on interacting with heterodox rabbis. They asked him to stop the tour and withdraw his book. He acceded to their requests but lamented the fact that he was now impeded from making the inroads he had started making with Reform Jews he would have otherwise never met.

Harry Maryles

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/pushing-the-boundaries-of-outreach/2013/10/23/

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