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Jewish Thought

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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
  • Thirteen Steps

    Rabbi Joseph Karasick

    Rabbi Joseph Karasick was one of the leaders who helped preserve Orthodoxy in twentieth century America. His life story is a compelling testament to the Orthodox community's deep inner strength and its ability to confront challenges, persevere, and triumph. Learn More
  • 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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  • Four Rabbis at Lunch

    Dov Peretz Elkins

    1 Review(s)

    Many people want to know what rabbis talk about when they know that no layperson is listening. Four Rabbis At Lunch provides a fictional attempt at replicating some of these intimate, no layperson present conversations by listening in on four rabbis as they meet for their weekly lunch. 

     About the Author

    Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins is a nationally known lecturer, educator, workshop leader, author, and book critic, and is a popular speaker on the Jewish circuit. Rabbi Elkins is a recipient of the National Jewish Book Award and is the author of over fifty books. His Chicken Soup For The Jewish Soul was on the NY Times best-seller list. His most recent books are Jewish Stories from Heaven and Earth: Inspiring Tales to Nourish the Heart and SoulTales of the RighteousSimple Actions for Jews to Help Green the PlanetHeart and Scroll: Inspiring Stories from the MastersIn the Spirit: Insights for Spiritual Renewal in the 21st Century; and For Those Left Behind: A Jewish Anthology of Comfort and Healing.

    Praise for Four Rabbis At Lunch:

    “What do rabbis discuss when they get together in private? Dov Peretz Elkins, a rabbi of many years and a writer, makes that question the intriguing basis for his new novel, Four Rabbis at Lunch.”

    Professor Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth College

     

    Four Rabbis at Lunch is a marvelous discussion sprinkled with seriousness, humor and a great amount of important information about what rabbis have to deal with whatever their denomination and struggles. Much to learn from, to have a good laugh, and think what Judaism is all about and why it is of crucial importance.”

    Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo, author of Jewish Law as Rebellion

     

    “Based on his lifetime of experience in the Conservative rabbinate, Dov Peretz Elkins invites readers to eavesdrop as four fictional rabbis – Conservative, Orthodox and Reform – gather weekly to converse and schmooze. Major issues that rabbis face in their work – everything from intermarriage and Israel to circumcision and sex – fill out these conversations, which are punctuated by learning, humor and practical wisdom. More eye-opening than any sermon, this is a guide to what rabbis really talk about among themselves.”

    Professor Jonathan D. Sarna, Brandeis University

     

    “Through the lunch-table conversation of four imaginary rabbis, Four Rabbis at Lunch offers the reader an original perspective on the Jewish community and Jewish religious leadership in our time by a master rabbi drawing on his decades of experience in the Jewish community.”

    Professor Raymond Scheindlin, Jewish Theological Seminary

     

    “Rabbi Elkins has written a book that richly reflects his many years on the pulpit. His liberal Conservative perspective is balanced by other rabbinic voices he has created. The result is a book that teaches his valuable Torah in an engaging and charming way.”

    Rabbi David A. Teutsch, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

     

    “The rabbis may be fictional, but the brilliant Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins is sharing truths stranger and more meaningful than fiction. If you’ve ever wondered how rabbis make decisions, grab this book. You’ll find it hard to put down!”

    Professor Ron Wolfson, American Jewish University

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  • Questions Obnoxious* Jewish Teenagers Ask

    Rabbi Mordechai Soskil

    Over the last twenty years I’ve had a chance to work with all sorts of teens from all parts of the Jewish community and I’ve noticed that they all have very similar questions. In some places those questions are encouraged and discussed openly. In some places those questions are whispered and hidden. I hope you have at least one adult you can speak to with your questions. Questions are good! The whole process of learning Torah is based on questions! If you’re not asking questions then how do we know if you’re really engaged in what we’re doing? And not asking the questions out loud doesn’t make the questions go away. It makes them roll around in your head until they make quite the racket. Sometimes teens don’t ask because they think their questions are so powerful that if they got out the whole system of Torah will crumble under the weight of the question. Well, wonderful and important teenager, that is wholly unlikely.

    So this book is about questions teens like to ask. We’ll try to explore some thinking on the big topics: davening, faith, working with parents that are complicated, Hashem, Torah, the purpose of life, that sort of thing. Maybe you’ll like my answers. Maybe you’ll have more questions. That’s great. Ask them. You deserve really great answers. You are, after all, the most important thing in all of creation.

    Okay, let’s jump right in. Who’s got a question?

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  • Journey to Open Orthodoxy

    Avraham ''Avi'' Weiss

    1 Review(s)

    In Journey to Open Orthodoxy, Rabbi Avi Weiss outlines his vision of Judaism - a vision that in recent years has become known as ''Open Orthodoxy.'' The scope of this work reveals that Open Orthodoxy goes well beyond such controversial issues as women's ordination and LGBT+ inclusion. For Rav Avi, Open Orthodoxy is holistic, embracing the whole of Jewish spiritual, religious, halakhic and national life. The title of the book, Journey to Open Orthodoxy, invites readers to evaluate the book's content while assessing their own journeys, leading, it may be hoped, to a consideration of an Orthodoxy that is inclusive, non-judgmental, loving, modern and open.

    Topics Include:
    Mesorah: Bridging Past and Future
    Is Halakha (Jewish Law) Ethical?
    Da'at Torah: Do Decisions of the Rabbis Close Off Discussion?
    Nation Is Family
    Creating Spaces for those with Disabilities
    Embracing the Elderly
    Alternatives to Kiruv (Outreach)
    Interdenominational and Interfaith Relations
    Infusing Halakha with Spirituality
    Women Rabbis
    Belief and Doubt
    Coping with Adversity
    Jewish Leadership
    Reining in Israel s Chief Rabbinate
    Conversion: Building Walls or Welcoming People In?
    Mission-Driven Judaism
    Ritualizing the Shoah
    The Holiness of Israeli Soldiers

    "[Rabbi Weiss'] writings… his reflections on how his worldview has grown, matured and diversified are a welcome addition to our literature... A wide-ranging audience will, through this work, have the chance to examine and be moved by Rabbi Weiss up close and personally." --Professor Jeffrey S. Gurock

    About the Author

    Rabbi Avi Weiss is the Founding Rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale-the Bayit, and founder of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and Yeshivat Maharat. He is also the co-founder of the International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF), an international organization of Modern Orthodox rabbis. Rabbi Weiss served as National Chairman of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) from 1982-1991 and subsequently as National President for AMCHA - the Coalition for Jewish Concerns, raising a voice of moral conscience on behalf of the Jewish people and humankind throughout the world. In 2013, Newsweek ranked him the 10th most prominent rabbi in the United States. Rabbi Weiss is the author of Holistic Prayer, Women at Prayer, and Spiritual Activism.

    Click here for LA Jewish Journal feature review of Journey to Open Orthodoxy 


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  • Living in the Presence

    Benjamin Epstein Ph.D.

     About the book: Have you ever questioned the purpose of our earthly existence? Why am I here? What is my role in the overall scheme? And what should I do to make that purpose meaningful and fulfilling? The answer, explains Psychologist and Mindfulness Meditation teacher and consultant Benjamin Epstein, is by “Living in the Presence.” Living in the present has become a therapeutic cornerstone; living in the presence transforms the technique into a life-changing experience. With exquisite simplicity, straightforwardness, and heartfulness, “Dr. Benjy” presents an approach culled from the teachings of the great Jewish spiritual masters that span thousands of years.

    This approach demonstrates how Jewish tradition is extraordinary in conjoining the Divine and the mundane, essentially postulating that the present moment--each present moment-- holds the key to connecting to the Divine. Imbuing workaday life with transcendent meaning, this book demonstrates that our awareness of the divinity manifest within the present moment consecrates the present with presence, and makes it both meaningful and holy. This book is designed to introduce you to who you are, as God made you, and to the gift God has placed within you. Living in the Presence – a Jewish Mindfulness Guide for Everyday Life provides a practical and hands-on roadmap to discover purpose in your life, to capture and experience some of the benefits of the world-to-come...right now, in this world.

     

     

    About the author: Rabbi Benjamin Epstein, Ph.D. is an experienced psychologist, author, and speaker who blends traditional Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) with cognitive behavioral, spiritual, and acceptance techniques. Dr. Benjy works effectively across a broad spectrum of age groups to enhance well-being by teaching how to live more mindfully and in the present. In addition to his private practice and mindfulness seminars, he spends his summers as the Director of Staff Development and Clinical Research in Camp HASC.

     

    Praise:

    “Living in the Presence is a work of art that could only have been written by someone who is truly living in the present. My dear friend Dr. Benjy has his finger on the pulse of our turbulent generation, one that is seeking more than ever a practical path of mindfulness and emunah to live by. This is a treasure.”     – HaRav Moshe Weinberger, Marah d’Atra of Congregation Aish Kodesh, Woodmere, NY and Mashpia at Yeshiva University

    “Living in the Presence is an invaluable resource for those looking to deepen the connection between mindfulness and spirituality, specifically as it relates to the Jewish faith. While contemporary research makes an effort to remove the transcendent from mindfulness practices, Dr. Epstein deftly articulates that indeed it is the spiritual element that gives mindfulness the ability to transform the totality of how a person relates to his daily existence. This is a book of enormous breadth and depth and will enhance the lives of those who internalize its message.”      – Harold G. Koenig, M.D., Director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health Duke University Medical Center

    “Ben Epstein masterfully connects ancient religious wisdom with modern scientific research, providing a roadmap to a more spiritual, happier, existence.”        – Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., Founder of Happiness Studies Academy Co. and Founder of Maytiv Center

    “Living in the Presence reveals a way of being that attunes us to the beauty, opportunity and blessing inherent in each moment and every breath. Dr. Epstein is a master craftsman and guide cultivating positivity, confidence, joy, gratitude awareness and self-acceptance. In setting us on the path of spiritual mindfulness, Dr. Benjy’s handiwork is an invaluable gift for all of us who yearn for wholeness and deeper connection with others and within. This book serves as a reminder to Dr. Benjy’s mantra that “the goal is soul.”          – Rabbi Judah Mischel, Founder of Tzama Nafshi, Executive Director of Camp Hasc, and Mashpia at NCSY

    “My religious, spiritual, and professional identities simultaneously intersected while reading Living in the Presence: A Jewish Mindfulness Guide for Everyday Life. Dr. Benjamin Epstein has written a unique text that offers sound guidelines for daily mindfulness practice in a busy world. If you are Jewish, if you are a mindfulness practitioner, if you are an acceptance and mindfulness clinician or researcher, or any combination thereof, you should definitely buy and read this book. You will be glad you did!”          – Amy R. Murrell, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of North Texas and Author of the Becca Epps Series on Bending your Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors

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  • The Year 6000

    Dr. Robert Wolf

    This book explores the historical basis for the significance of the year 6000 and what the world can expect. Moreover, it explains how we should prepare for this moment both spiritually and practically. The book demonstrates how close we are to the Year 6000 and the coming of the Mashiach.

    We need to move forward as a unified people as we approach this great moment. Learn More

  • Encyclopedia of Jewish Values

    Nachum Amsel

    3 Review(s)

    A continuation to his widely praised Encyclopedia of Jewish Values, Rabbi Nachum Amsel presents as organized compendium of Jewish values and ethics that deal with human interaction. The topics addressed in this work include Jewish attitudes to leadership, business ethics, modesty with dress, self-defense, peer pressure, family, friendships, and more. Gleaning from the Bible and classic Jewish texts, as well as later authorities such as Maimonides, Nachmanides, Rashi, and the Code of Jewish Law, this work is accessible to readers of many backgrounds.

     

    About the Author:

    Rabbi Dr. Nachum Amsel is the director of education at the Destiny Foundation and the author of The Jewish Encyclopedia of Moral and Ethical Issues and The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values.
     

    Topics Include:

    • Animals - How Jews Should Relate
    • Antisemitism and Amalek
    • Business Ethics
    • Civil Disobedience
    • Climate Change - Is It a Jewish Issue? (Ecology)
    • Drugs, Alcohol & Marijuana - Are They Ever Permitted in Judaism?
    • Ethics of Torture in Judaism
    • Family - the Key to Jewish and World Redemption
    • Friendship
    • Freedom in Judaism
    • Getting Old, Being Old and Senility
    • Going Beyond What is Required: Good Idea or Obligatory?
    • Honesty and Cheating
    • Human Dignity, Human Embarrassment, and Humiliating Oneself
    • Individuality and Conformity
    • Jewish Happiness
    • Jewish Hospitality - Hachnasat Orchim
    • Jewish Leadership - What is It?
    • Learning and Teaching in Judaism
    • Mentally Handicapped Jews
    • Modesty - Tzniut: More than Dress
    • Money, Wealth and Tzedaka - More than Jewish Charity
    • Jews Living in a Non-Jewish Society & General Attitude to Non-Jews
    • Obligation to Help Other Jews, Especially Those Less Observant
    • Parents and Little Children, Parents and Teens
    • Peace - at What Cost?
    • Peer Pressure
    • Physical Beauty and Ugliness
    • Privacy vs. Community Obligations
    • Refusing an Immoral Military Order - Siruv Pekudah
    • Returning Found Objects
    • Self-Control
    • Self Defense
    • Sex
    • Snitching and Telling Secrets
    • Speech in Judaism
    • Triage: Priorities in Allocating Resources
    • Universal Healthcare (Obamacare) from the Jewish Perspective
    • War
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  • Reading the Torah

    Heinrich W. Guggenheimer

    This book is written for the modern Jewish reader conversant with the text of the Pentateuch and Rashi’s commentary, exploring text and meaning using modern linguistic and historical tools to understand the Torah as a uniform composition by Moses, the Lawgiver. The origin of the book are weekly commentaries to the Torah readings in the Sephardic (originally Moroccan) Minyan of Congregation Anshe Shalom in West Hempstead NY. The encouragement of the rabbinic listeners for the ideas of a nonprofessional Jewish student was most welcome. This book was written on the request of a Yeshiva-educated grandson to see the weekly Notes turned into a book, showing points of view of which he never heard in the Yeshiva.

    About the Author

    Heinrich W. Guggenheimer is a German born (1924), Swiss educated, American mathematician, since 1989 Professor Emeritus of Polytechnic University (today Polytechnic Institute of New York University.) He received his advanced Jewish education at the Bet Midrash of Basel, Switzerland. After retirement following a successful career as research scientist, he turned his interests to Jewish subjects, writing with his wife Eva nee Horovics, “Jewish Family Names, an etymological dictionary” (1992, 2 nd ed. 2017; German version 1996), and as sole author “The Scholar’s Haggadah” (1995), “Seder Olam, the rabbinic view of Biblical chronology” (1998), a seventeen volume edition, translation, and commentary of the Jerusalem Talmud (2000-2014), and “The Songs of Psalms” (2017).

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