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Jewish Thought

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  • Halacha Yomis

    Rabbi Yaakov Luban and Rabbi Eli Gersten

    Shortly before the petirah in 2016 of Rabbi Chaim Yisroel Belsky zt"l, a renowned halachic authority and one of the senior poskim of the Orthodox Union Kosher division, the OU began a daily halacha email in his merit, containing one halacha each day composed by a team of OU rabbis. After Rav Belsky s passing, the highly popular Halacha Yomis email has continued in his memory, sponsored by Gerald and Karin Feldhamer. This Halacha Yomis volume contains a wide selection of entries from the Halacha Yomis email series, consisting of 354 halachos, one for each day of the Hebrew calendar year. With each halacha presented in a clear, succinct and highly readable fashion, Halacha Yomis strikes the balance between accessibility to beginners and examination of laws that are not well-known even to advanced students. As attested to by the thousands of subscribers who have been reading and enjoying the email version of this halacha series for years, Halacha Yomis is a worthy companion to the study and observance of halacha in our times

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  • Giving

    Rabbi Yehuda Lev Ashlag

    With Commentary and Insights for Living the Kabbalah by Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Gottlieb

    The purpose of our lives is to grow step by step toward a fundamental transformation. Instead of always seeking some form of self-gratification, we can learn to give to others with no self-interest at all. This is the essential teaching of the Kabbalah portrayed in these essays by Baal Hasulam - the greatest modern explicator of Kabbalah. Rabbi Gottlieb provides an illuminating commentary as a living chassidic rebbe devoted to the practice and teaching of Baal Hasulam's spiritual path.

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  • Torah Beloved

    Norman Lamm

    Daniel Gober

    The weekly sermons delivered by Rabbi Norman Lamm while Rabbi of The Jewish Center in New York City are legendary for their profound intellectual substance and soaring eloquence. Dynamic and charismatic, Rabbi Lamm, through his spellbinding sermons, guided his congregants in confronting the corrosive influence of contemporary secular culture and choosing instead steadfast loyalty to Orthodox tradition. Rabbi Lamm's words and thoughts are as relevant today, to twenty-first century Jewish life, as they were when originally expressed decades ago.

    A recurring theme that runs through many of Rabbi Lamm's messages is the love of Torah and the concept that the study of Torah is not merely an intellectual exercise but that which imbues our lives with meaning and value. In Torah Beloved, a group of Rabbi Lamm's sermons has been assembled which celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, the holiday of the giving of the Torah, and which express the love of Torah. With this collection of sermonic gems, together with two essays by Rabbi Lamm which delve in greater detail into the appreciation of Torah and Torah study, the idea of the love of Torah takes on a new and deeper meaning.

    About the Author

    Rabbi Norman Lamm, former President of Yeshiva University and Rosh HaYeshiva of its affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, is one of the most gifted and profound thinkers of the Modern Orthodox community. He was the founding editor of Tradition, the journal of Orthodox thought published by the Rabbinical Council of America, and established the Orthodox Forum, a think tank of rabbis, academicians, and community leaders that meets annually to discuss topics of concern in the Orthodox community.  Before assuming the presidency of Yeshiva University, Rabbi Lamm served for many years as Rabbi of The Jewish Center, one of New York City's most prominent and vibrant Orthodox synagogues. A prolific author in the field of Jewish philosophy and law, a distinguished academician, and a charismatic pulpit rabbi, Rabbi Lamm has made an extraordinary impact on the Jewish community. With a rare combination of penetrating scholarship and eloquence of expression, he has successfully presented a Torah view of contemporary Jewish life that speaks movingly to all.


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  • Deference to Doubt

    Herman M. Van Praag

    Amos, a young Judean living in the first century CE, is searching for his identity. He debates with representatives of the main religious and ideological movements of his time, subjecting the resulting torrent of varying, often contradictory views to critical analysis.
    The conclusion Amos reaches is that there is no obvious dogmatic endpoint to his quest. From the profusion of opinions, he will have to compile a fitting spiritual "menu" that gives depth and meaning to his life, with dialectics and ongoing discourse as his guiding principle and doubt as the foundation for his religious life.
    In Deference to Doubt: A Young Man's Quest for Religious Identity in First Century Judea, Professor van Praag pursues the direction he took in his books God and Psyche (God en Psyche), Beyond Sensibility (Het Verstand te Boven) and Just Beyond Reason (Net Voorbij de Rede), and boldly, yet respectfully, interprets and reflects on the concept of God, the Bible, and the people who appear in it.
      

    About the Author

    Professor Herman M. Van Praag is Professor Emeritus in Psychiatry at the Universities of Groningen, Utrecht and Maastricht in The Netherlands and at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
    He has conducted a great deal of research into the relationship between (abnormal) brain function and (abnormal) behavior.
    In 1989, he was knighted by Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands for his scientific and educational work. 
    Received the Founders Award from the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) in December 2019, to acknowledge his efforts to put religion/religiosity/meaning/purpose -- long considered to be irrelevant for psychiatric diagnosis and treatment -- on the agenda.
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  • Kosher Living

    Rabbi Ron Isaacs

    Kosher Living is an essential guide to Jewish ethics and morality for your everyday life. Rabbi Ron Isaacs offers a warm, humorous, and eminently useful book that shows what is really kosher, proper, and appropriate in all aspects of our lives. Kosher Living includes comprehensive entries organized into practical categories of daily life practices -- business hospitality, relationships, care of the body, and more; it gives advice from all aspects of Jewish religion, custom, ritual, and tradition. This book in an invaluable source of inspiration and a definitive reference work for every Jewish family. Written in an easy-to-use format, Kosher Living is a perfect tool for teaching Jewish values and tradition.

    About the Author

    Rabbi Ron Isaacs is currently the rabbi of Beth Judah Temple in Wildwood New Jersey.  He is also the Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Sholom in Bridgewater New Jersey, a congregation which he served for forty years.  In recent years he has used his guitar skills to offer therapeutic music to people in hospice.  Ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Rabbi Ron received his doctorate in education from Columbia University Teacher's College.  

    A prolific author, his many books include the well-known Every Person's Guide series and The How to Handbook of Jewish Living, which he coauthored with Rabbi Kerry Olitzky.

      Known as the teaching rabbi, Rabbi Ron has taught in the Graduate Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Drew University, and has lectured throughout the United States in various synagogues and Jewish Community Centers. He also has chaired the Rabbinical Assembly's Publications  Committee. For more than a decade, he and his wife, Dr. Leora Isaacs, have designed and coordinated the adult learning experience called Shabbat Plus as well as Family Camp at Camp Ramah in the Poconos.

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  • The Hidden Light

    Dr. Jerry Hochbaum

    In this fascinating journey through the weekly parashah, Rabbi Dr. Jerry Hochbaum focuses on the theme of leadership. In addition to elucidating the Torah text with keen understanding, he also offers trenchant lessons about the Torah’s view of effective Jewish leadership that are clearly relevant to our own times.

    Praise for The Hidden Light: Biblical Paradigms for Leadership

    “The topic of leadership is of critical interest to all of us today. Dr. Jerry Hochbaum’s The Hidden Light: Biblical Paradigms for Leadership addresses this topic in a thorough and thoughtful manner. Dr. Hochbaum draws upon his many decades of experience at the helm of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, along with his academic expertise in the social sciences and his Torah erudition, to produce a most insightful and helpful work. The reader is sure to come away from this original book informed, enlightened, and inspired.”

    Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb
    Executive Vice President, Emeritus
    Orthodox Union 

    “Dr. Jerry Hochbaum has given us a real gift. The innovative, insightful and inspiring divrei Torah on each parashah presented in this volume are devoted in particular to thoughts about the development and strengthening of Jewish leadership, which has been the focus of Dr. Hochbaum’s thinking and attention
    for decades. Throughout this work, Dr. Hochbaum demonstrates exquisite sensitivity to the nuances of the biblical text, paying careful attention to the significance of each word of the Torah. I learned much from his thoughtful insights and often novel interpretations, and I have no doubt that every reader will
    be greatly enriched by his ideas.”

    Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter
    University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought
    Senior Scholar, Center for the Jewish Future
    Yeshiva University

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  • Strangers & Natives

    Ron Rubin and Jonathan D. Sarna

    Foreword by Jonathan D. Sarna
    Developed by Peri Devaney

    Strangers and Natives: A Newspaper Narrative of Early Jewish America, 1734 - 1869 focuses on the daily life and customs of the Jewish community and the Jewish people; the formation of Jewish congregations and organizations; and the involvement of Jews in education, literature, journalism, politics, the marketplace, the military, and history itself. While there are numerous historical accounts of early American Jewry quoting documents, diaries and memoirs, this is the first that uses periodicals from that time period. Using scans of the original newsprint, most from the author s own extensive collection, Strangers and Natives displays the actual written words - the first blush of history - in visual form.

    About the Author

    Ron Rubin, PhD, a political science professor emeritus at the Borough of Manhattan Community College of the City University of New York, is a well-published author. Rubin retired from BMCC after fifty years as the political science department's most senior professor. A graduate of Yeshiva University High School, New York University (BA and Ph.D.) and Brown University (MA), he was first published in 1959 as Editor-In-Chief of the NYU Huntington Hill Historical Society's Historian.
    A prolific writer, Rubin has had more than 100 works published globally since then. His books include Controversies Over the Objectives of the U.S. Information Agency (Praeger, 1968), The Unredeemed: Anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union (Quadrangle Books, 1968), Rudy, Rudy, Rudy: The Real and the Rational(Holmes & Meier, 2000) and Anything for a T-Shirt: Fred Lebow and the New York City Marathon (Syracuse University Press, 2004). In 2013 more than 75 of Dr. Rubin's commentaries - focusing solely on topics relating to Israel, the global Jewish community and the American Jewish community - were anthologized in A Jewish Professor's Political Punditry: Fifty Plus Years of Published Commentary by Ron Rubin, edited by Peri Devaney (Syracuse University Press).
    Rubin resides with his wife, Miriam, in Riverdale, New York, where he is an active member of the Jewish community.


    Peri (Perel Chana) Devaney is an editorial, marketing and administrative consultant with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and computer science from the State University of NY at Buffalo. Her editorial career includes more than 30 years of writing and editing newsletters and brochures as a volunteer for non-profit organizations and schools. In the late 1980s, as Executive Director of a major international association, AFCOM, she served as Founding Editor of its highly acclaimed magazine and was responsible for editorial content, design, advertising and staff development.
    Devaney left association work to form PERIodicals and devote more time to her editorial work and to the Jewish community. Under the PERIodicals banner, in addition to continuing her work for non-profit organizations, she served as editorial consultant and rewrite editor on two books by Harvey Rosenthal: Diary of a Dirty Little War: The Spanish American War of 1898 [Praeger, 2000] and Richmond Pearson Hobson: Naval Hero from Magnolia Grove [Yucca Tree Press, 2001]. From 2000-2013, in addition to her work with PERIodicals, she served as Administrator for Jews for Judaism, an international non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening and preserving Jewish identity and counteracting deceptive proselytizing.
    A native of Long Island, NY, Devaney lived in Buffalo, NY, Albany, NY and Vermont before moving to California. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband Michoe-l, who is also known as ''the Cowboy Chassid'' at home and as ''Cantor Bob'' in Nevada.

    Praise for Strangers & Natives:

    "From the earliest colonial printings to the rise of newspapers as a serious political force in the 19th and 20th centuries, newspapers are among the most significant sources of information with respect to the American past. Ron Rubin's new book, Strangers and Natives, based exclusively on newspaper accounts, plumbs these great resources in a fascinating and thought-provoking account of American Jewry. The book traces some of the direst moments in this history - for example, Grant's infamous expulsion of Jews from Tennessee - as well as some of the happiest, including Jewish political and social triumphs and holiday celebrations. A must-read for anyone interested in learning how the media portrayed, understood, and promoted the Jewish experience in early America."

    -Louise Mirrer, Ph.D., President and CEO, New York Historical Society

    "Professor Ron Rubin has produced a truly extraordinary and colorful compendium of newspaper stories that transport the reader back in time to experience Jewish life in early America. This fascinating and diverse array of newspaper accounts - written both by Jews and about Jews - sheds new light on what E pluribus unum really meant to our American forebears. General readers and scholars alike will find a treasure-trove of interesting facts in this page-turning documentary volume."

    -Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, and the Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professor of the American Jewish Experience, Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion

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  • Under My Hat

    Sally Berkovic

    Sally Berkovic chronicles the challenges of raising daughters while straddling the tensions between an Orthodox religious life and the competing forces of secularism. First published in 1997, Under My Hat presciently raised issues that have since dominated the Orthodox world. This new edition is augmented by an extensive introduction delving into the impact of more than 20 years of evolutionary change. Sally Berkovic's insights and analysis demonstrate how women's scholarship and mastery of Talmudic texts, the burgeoning movement of Orthodox women clergy, enhanced ritual participation, women's political and communal leadership and the pushback against the 'modesty wars' are shaping an Orthodox community that is struggling to be 'fit for purpose' in contemporary society. She does not hesitate to ask the difficult questions, acknowledging that answers may be elusive. Her bold predictions for the future may infuriate, but they cannot be easily ignored.

    About the Author:

    Sally Berkovic was born in Australia and is the daughter of Slovakian Holocaust survivors. She studied at Melbourne University and worked as a social worker and academic for ten years. Sally lived in Jerusalem and New York before an epistolary romance brought her to London in 1993 where she established a freelance writing career while her children were young. Since 2009, she has been the CEO of the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe, supporting Jewish heritage and culture across Europe.

    Praise for Under My Hat:

    Peppered with wit, warmth and humor, painful anomalies were portrayed with honesty, alongside a conviction that rather than seek neat solutions, living with the tensions would lead to new and unexpected breakthroughs. An updated chapter introducing this republication of Berkovic's original work offers a well-informed and optimistic prognosis to those seeking a realistic alternative to the bitter rancor that often accompanies discussion the of women's status in traditional Judaism.
    --Professor Tamar Ross, author, Expanding the Palace of the Torah


    The positive changes Sally applauded 20 years ago--and has helped fuel in the intervening decades--are here to stay, and reading this wide-ranging and perceptive accounting is both a pleasure and a challenge to further action.
    --Susan Weidman Schneider, Editor in Chief, Lilith magazine

    …What is unique in Sally's writing is her affectionate, bemused and sometimes very funny depiction of the resistance of her community to any hint of feminism. Her conclusion is optimistic as she summarizes the astonishing transformation in the prospects of women over the last two decades. The acute, concerned and unconventional voice of a social anthropologist who writes from the inside.
    --Dr Aviva Zornberg, author, Moses, A Human Life

    Reviews:

    https://jewishreviewofbooks.com/articles/5561/setting-the-table/ By Ilana Kurshan, Jewish Review of Book


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  • Ask the Rabbi

    Volume Augmented Edition

    Rabbi Ron Isaacs

    Does God really have a chosen people? Do Jews believe in an afterlife? Why do all Jewish holidays begin at night? When is it okay to tell a lie? What does Judaism say about being gay? From the mundane to the perplexing, Rabbi Ron Isaacs answers all your Questions about the Jewish faith in a manner that is warm, wise, and witty. Isaacs brings his many years of experience as a rabbi and scholar to create a family-friendly resource that you and your children can use again and again to answer questions as they arise in your day-to-day lives -- such as questions about worship services, blessings, famous people in the Bible, miracles, fast days, Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, the Seder, circumcision, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, marriage, keeping kosher, sex, death and dying, medical ethics, Jewish beliefs, Hasidim, Jewish denominations, rabbis and cantors, black Jews, Jewish professions, what others think of the Jews, Israel, ritual garments, the Torah, the mezuzah, anti-Semitic documents and statements, Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews, language, Jews and cults, kabbalah, classic Jewish books, and an all new chapter on animals.

    About the Author

    Rabbi Ron Isaacs is currently the rabbi of Beth Judah Temple in Wildwood New Jersey. He is also the Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Sholom in Bridgewater New Jersey, a congregation which he served for forty years. In recent years he has used his guitar skills to offer therapeutic music to people in hospice. Ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Rabbi Ron received his doctorate in education from Columbia University Teacher's College. 

    He is the author of more than one hundred books, including the well known Every Person s Guide to Judaism to series. 

    Known as the teaching rabbi, Rabbi Ron has taught in the Graduate Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Drew University, and has lectured throughout the United States in various synagogues and Jewish Community Centers. He also has chaired the Rabbinical Assembly's Publications Committee.

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  • The Light That Unites

    Aaron Goldscheider

    Anyone seeking the deeper meaning, the true spirituality of Chanukah, will want to have this book as a holiday companion and guide. This first-of-its-kind book offers a teaching for each candle of Chanukah gathered from the most beloved and esteemed sages and masters: Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, and other great luminaries. Be prepared for a new appreciation of Chanukah, the holiday of light and unity. Learn More

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