The Rarest Blue, by Baruch Sterman '79 and Judy Taubes Sterman
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Lyons Press
For centuries, dyed fabrics ranked among the most desirable objects of the ancient world, fetching up to 20 times their weight in gold. Few people knew their complex secrets, carefully guarding the valuable knowledge. The Rarest Blue tells the incredible story of tekhelet, or hyacinth blue, the elusive sky-blue dye mentioned throughout the Hebrew Bible. Minoans discovered it; Phoenicians stole it; Roman emperors revered it; Cleopatra adored it; and Jews—obeying a Biblical commandment to affix a single thread of the radiant color to the corner of their garments—risked their lives for it. But as the Roman Empire dissolved, the color vanished. Then, in the nineteenth century, a marine biologist marveled as yellow snail-gut smeared on a fisherman’s shirt turned blue. What had caused this incredible transformation? Meanwhile, a Hasidic master obsessed with the ancient technique posited that the source of the color dye was no snail but a squid. Bitter controversy divided European Jews until a brilliant Rabbi proved one side wrong. But had people been deceived by an unscrupulous chemist? In this richly illustrated book, Baruch Sterman brilliantly recounts the amazing story of this sacred dye that changed the color of history.
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KI VA MOED
Rav David Milston '83
Ki Va Moed (because the time has come*), is an in-depth, two-volume series offering a fascinating journey through the Jewish Year, sharing refreshing, enlightening and eminently relevant insights into the Jewish calendar and festivals. Rav Milston presents classic sources and thought-provoking questions, always finding contemporary relevance and challenging you to search your soul. These essays will add a new dimension to your celebrations throughout the year, enrich your festive table and provoke lively discussion and debate about a wealth of topics and the very purpose of our modern Jewish lives. For more information. See also Rav Milson’s 5-volume set of The Three Pillars, essays on Torah which weave classical and modern day commentaries into messages for the contemporary Jew. For more information.
ECHOES OF EDEN
by Rabbi Ari D. Kahn '80
Published jointly by Gefen Publishing and the OU. Hardcover, 350 pages
As the Jewish people embark on their fateful journey toward redemption, we wonder: How did the Jewish people s suffering prepare them for their destiny? What enabled them to receive the Torah? How could the people have perpetrated the golden calf debacle, and how can we successfully learn from their experiences to live wiser, more God-conscious lives? Plumbing the depths of Jewish sources, Rabbi Ari Kahn provides fascinating answers to age-old questions, infusing the parashah with fresh significance. Through provoking questions and intriguing insights, Rabbi Kahn continually inspires us to seek the Godly. Salvation and Sanctity is the second in a five-volume work on the weekly Torah portion.
Rabbi Ari Kahn received his rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary where he studied with Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik. He graduated Yeshiva University with a BA in psychology and an MS degree in Talmud. He is Director of Foreign Student Programs at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, where he also is a senior lecturer in Jewish studies, he is also a senior educator at the Aish HaTorah College for Jewish Studies, and MATAN.
PASSAGES: Text and Transformation in the Parasha
by Rabbi Michael Hattin '85
Published by Urim Publications. Hardcover, 384 pages
Passages is a journey through the text of the Torah that can transform you.
Passages is a thought-provoking study of the weekly parasha that deftly weaves literary analysis of the Biblical text with selected teachings of classical Jewish commentary. Revealing the intricacies of the Torah portion and offering innovative readings, Passages applies the Torah’s message to the complexities of modern living. Passages is a journey into the landscape of Biblical study that will both challenge as well as refresh you. This volume of parsha commentary was inspired by Rav Hattin's series Introduction to Parashat HaShavua of the Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash.
MICHAEL HATTIN is a master teacher of Tanakh at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem and the Director of the Beit Midrash for the Pardes Educators Program. He studied for semicha at Yeshivat Har Etzion and holds a professional degree in architecture from the University of Toronto. He has served as scholar-in-residence in many communities in North America and Europe. He lives in Alon Shevut with his wife Rivka and their five children.
To order your copy, inscribed by the author, click here.
The Pillar of Volozhin: Rabbi Naftali Zvi yehuda Berlin and the World of 19th Century Lithuanian Torah Scholarship.
by Gil S. Perl '96
Published by Academic Studies Press. 291 pp. cloth
The work of Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, the Neziv, ranks amongst the most often read rabbinic literature of the nineteenth century. His breadth of learning, unabashed creativity, and penchant for walking against the stream of the rabbinic commentarial establishment has made his commentaries a favorite amongst rabbinic scholars and scholars of rabbinics alike. Yet, to date, there has been no comprehensive and systematic attempt to place his intellectual oeuvre into its historical context - until now.
In the Pillar of Volozhin, Gil Perl traces the influences which helped mold and shape the Neziv’s thinking while also opening new doors into the world of early nineteenth century Lithuanian Torah scholarship, an area heretofore almost completely untouched by academic research.
Gil Perl (PhD Harvard University) is the Dean of the Margolin Hebrew Academy/Feinstone Yeshiva of the South, a Prek-12 private school serving the Jewish community of Memphis. He has earned rabbinical ordination from Yeshiva University and sits on the editorial board of Ha-Yedion, RAVSAK’s journal of Jewish education, as well as the advisory council of the Institute for University-School Partnership at Yeshiva University.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ROSH HAYESHIVA HARAV BARUCH GIGI
ON THE PUBLISHING OF HIS SEFER, TALLELEI SHABBAT. Read more.
CONGRATULATIONS TO RAV EZRA BICK AND RAV YAAKOV BEASLEY
ON THE PUBLISHING OF THE SECOND VOLUME OF TORAH MI-ETZION - NEW READINGS IN TANACH - SHEMOT.
STORIES OF THE LAW: NARRATIVE DISCOURSE AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF AUTHORITY IN THE MISHNAH
by Dr. Moshe Simon-Shoshan
In this new book from Oxford University Press, Moshe Simon-Shoshan '88 offers a ground-breaking study of Jewish law and Rabbinic story-telling. Focusing on the Mishnah, the foundational text of Halakhah, he argues that narrative was essential to early rabbinic formulations and concepts of law, legal process, and political and religious authority. Stories of the Law presents an original and forceful argument for applying literary theory to legal texts, challenging the traditional distinctions between law and literature that underlie much contemporary scholarship. Available at Amazon.com
MIKRA & MEANING, Studies in Bible and Its Interpretation is the newest release by Tanakh teacher and rabbi, Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot 81. This collection of essays offers an in-depth analysis of selected episodes in Bible, from the life of Abraham to the trials of the Jewish people throughout their desert journey, using the unique literary-theological method for which the author is renowned. Helfgot’s approach towards these biblical narratives revitalizes the text with a refreshing blend of critical awareness, intellectual honesty and religious commitment, thereby facilitating a rethinking of Jewish peoplehood. The book includes a preface by Harav Aharon Lichtensteina and a foreword by Rav Yoel Bin Nun.
Available at Koren Publishers
DEFINING THE MOMENT: UNDERSTANDING BRAIN DEATH IN HALAKHAH
by Rabbi David Shabtai, MD
Does Judaism allow donating life-saving vital organs? Almost certainly, so long as the potential donor is dead. And this is where the story begins. Medical ethicists and leading rabbis have struggled for decades to determine the precise moment of death. Does death occur at the irreversible cessation of respiration, when the brain is completely gone, or when the heart stops beating? The practical consequences are enormous and they determine when vital organs may or may not be donated. Read More....
Rabbi Shabtai '98 will be kicking off the book launch with a lecture for the Medical Ethics Society of Yeshiva University at The Seforim Sale, this Sunday, February 19th, at 7pm. To celebrate the book’s debut, it is being offered at a 15% discount at the Seforim Sale and in the Glueck Beit Midrash of YU after the lecture. The book is available at Amazon.
GRAY MATTER VOLUME 4: EXPLORING CONTEMPORARY HALACHIC CHALLENGES
by Rabbi Chaim Jachter
Chaim (Howard) Jachter '81 has just published his fourth volume of Gray Matter. Rabbi Chaim Jachter selects topics of relevance and interest to contemporary Jews and in his characteristically clear and readable style comprehensively surveys the issues and the varying views of contemporary scholars. Instead of simply presenting the rules, Rabbi Jachter fully explains the sources of the Halacha from the Gemara, to the Rishonim and Acharonim and then to current rabbinic authorities. Rabbi Jachter has created a new style of Halachic literature which not only tells you what to do but allows readers to understand how and why great rabbis arrive at their conclusions. A wide range of Halachic authorities are included in these broad studies. Rav Amital zt"l and Rav Lichtenstein Shlita are quoted extensively in all volumes.
OPENING THE GATES OF INTERPRETATION: Maimonides’ Biblical Hermeneutics in Lights of His Geonic-Andalusian Heritage and Muslim Milieu
by Mordechai Z. Cohen
Prof Mordechai Cohen ’82, who has been serving as Associate Dean of the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies (Yeshiva University) since 2008, recently published his second book, Opening the Gates of Interpretation: Maimonides’ Biblical Hermeneutics in Lights of His Geonic-Andalusian Heritage and Muslim Milieu (Leiden: Brill Academic Press, 2011). The biblical hermeneutics of the illustrious philosopher-talmudist Moses Maimonides (1138-1204) has long been underappreciated, and viewed in isolation from the celebrated philological schools of “plain sense” (peshat) Jewish Bible exegesis. Aiming to redress this imbalance, this study identifies Maimonides’ substantial contributions to that interpretive movement, assessing its achievements in cultural context. To order
Last year Prof. Cohen was on sabbatical at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he led an international team of 14 scholars engaged in a research project entitled “Encountering Scripture in Overlapping Cultures: Early Jewish, Christian and Muslim Strategies of Reading and Their Contemporary Implications.” For further details see http://blogs.yu.edu/news/2011/11/21/a-multi-faith-approach-to-scripture/#more-8928
Turning things Around at Bikur Cholim
Dr. Raphael Pollack '74 has performed 1,372 ‘external cephalic versions’ – an alternative to cesarean sections or breech births. A father of six – none by breech deliveries – and the grandfather of one (with another on the way), he still finds the experience of delivering a baby very moving, and even holy. The modern Orthodox physician has done it many thousands of times, and has performed a total of 1,372 ECVs in his career – a record that might qualify him for inclusion in The Guinness Book of Records. Read more.
WE'RE MISSING THE POINT: WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE ORTHODOX JEWISH COMMUNITY
by Rabbi Dr. Gidon Rothstein
In We’re Missing the Point: What’s Wrong with the Orthodox Jewish Community and How to Fix It, the newest publication of the OU Press, Rabbi Gidon Rothstein '82 argues vigorously and convincingly that the Orthodox Jewish community is “missing the point” in many aspects of its Torah observance and mindset. Too often, the Orthodox community’s educational system and cultural institutions place excessive emphasis on the technical aspects of religious observance while ignoring the profound transcendent truths and principles that should animate a rich, authentic religious life. From a thorough study of the classical sources, Rabbi Rothstein identifies those transcendent truths and demonstrates their conspicuous absence in contemporary Orthodox Jewish life. Read more.
BETWEEN THE LINES OF THE BIBLE, EXODUS, BY RABBI YITZCHAK ETSHALOM '83
Published by Urim Publications and OU Press
Hardcover, 220 pages
The study of Tanakh has always been a staple of Jewish life. The new windows which have opened up in the last century into the rooms of academia – anthropology, archeology, philology and literary analysis, to name a few – have given new perspectives to traditional study and have allowed Orthodox students of our Book of Books to understand, with greater depth and insight, the stories, laws, prophecies and poems that have been our breath for these millennia. In this rich volume, Rabbi Etshalom demonstrates the methodology through which traditional study meets academic rigor, and new insights into the meaning of the text and its import come to light. (“The old will become renewed and the new will become sanctified.” –Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook)
About the Author
Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom was educated at Yeshivot Kerem B’Yavneh, RIETS/Yeshiva University and Har Etzion, after which he received rabbinic ordination from the Chief Rabbinate of Jerusalem. While completing his M.Ed. at Loyola Marymount University, Etshalom began his career as an educator and a leading teacher of Tanakh in North America. Rabbi Etshalom resides in Southern California with his wife and five children, where he teaches adults, high school students, and many of all ages via the Internet. See also volume 1 of this series.
Allow us to feature a member of the Har Etzion Community: Channah Koppel (married to Moshe '74, and aunt of Hesder bogrim Mordechai and Daniel, and media consultant for the Yeshiva!)
"As the mother of an Israeli soldier and the organizer of a local group of handcrafters called "Chicks with Sticks", I began a small grass roots initiative to knit hats for soldiers...and it grew...and grew...and grew. This small, concrete way to send a soldier a little warmth struck a chord with knitters around the world. Thousands of their handmade hats are already in use by combat soldiers on Israel's front lines." Read more about it on these pages. Write to her at email@example.com or better yet, watch an interview with Channah. Hers is an inspiring story.
The Black Banners - The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against Al-Qaeda, by Ali H. Soufan.
This book was co-authored by Har Etzion alumnus Daniel Freedman ('00). Daniel is currently the Director of Strategy and Policy Analysis of The Soufan Group, an international strategic consultancy that advises governments, businesses, and institutions on policy, strategy, security, and risk management; and trains law enforcement, intelligence, judicial, and security services. He also serves as the Director of Policy Analysis at the Qatar International Academy for Security Studies (QIASS). "This narrative account of America's successes and failures against al-Qaeda is essential to an understanding of the terrorist group. We are taken into hideouts and interrogation rooms. We have a ringside seat at bin Laden's personal celebration of the 9/11 bombings. Such riveting details show us not only how terrorists think and operate but also how they can be beaten and brought to justice."
Art Intended to Make the End of Life Beautiful. Artist Tobi Kahn '72 has created art for hospices, hospitals and memorial chapels, ranging from a single canvas to an entire room for meditation, and has several commissions in the near future. Read more.
More than 100 people protested Sunday December 19th outside a Wheaton apartment complex for a local man to give his ex-wife a religious divorce. Har Etzion alumnus Rabbi Jeremy Stern, executive director of ORA, Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, explains.
"While one need not accept the British belief that the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, there is no question that within the essentially trivial world of sports, real moral greatness and real moral degradation can be seen. If you see someone on the basketball court who wants only to shoot and score, and defense means nothing to him, this is not simply disturbing to another basketball player, but is morally repugnant." - Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, Developing a Torah Personality Lecture #2
Rabbi Dov Huff '2000 appears to have taken these words of the Rosh Yeshiva to heart, and succeeds in conveying them to his students at Maimonides. Our congratulations to the Maimonides School for being awarded the District Sportsmanship Award. “For me it’s not about winning the game; it’s about playing well,’’ said Sophie Edelman, the varsity volleyball captain. “I want to have a good relationship with my teammates rather than show them I’m the best server in volleyball.’’ Read more.
Maccabeats, a group of Yeshiva University students, has transformed Taio Cruz's hit song "Dynamite" into a holiday parody "Candlelight."
The Maccabeats, an all-male a cappella group at the Orthodox Jewish university, authored and put together the video. The video is a hilarious montage of spoofs on music videos, battle scenes between Jews and Greeks, the inexplicable appearance of a NASA astronaut, and at least one sufganiyah whose fillings cannot be contained.
The English-speaking population in Ariel has grown at a quicker pace as of late, albeit still small. Ariel's 20,000 residents are mostly Russian immigrants and native Israelis, mostly secular, who were drawn to the West Bank settlement for its relative cheap housing and central location.
The number of English-speaking families in Ariel has risen from some 15 years ago to around 50 families, largely the result of the Absorption Ministry's Communal Aliyah Program, geared toward immigrants from English-speaking countries but which was cut earlier this year.
Some of the increase is the result of English-speaking immigrants moving to Ariel from other communities, primarily Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem. Many are religious and say they were drawn to Ariel because of its diversity. The lack of availability of housing, however, has caused several interested Anglo families to look elsewhere.
Nefesh B'Nefesh, which recruits immigrants from North America, "initially didn't want to get involved in Ariel because of its location, but once it saw the success of our aliyah and were pleased about it, and understood that there is more opportunity here, they began to work with us," says Avi Zimmerman, executive director of the American Friends of Ariel, executive director of the Ariel Development Fund and an American immigrant.
"The seeds have been laid already so that the new immigrants themselves are drawing in other new families," says Reuven Franks, Ariel's British-born aliyah coordinator.
As the number of Anglo immigrants grew, Zimmerman decided it would be good to hire an English-speaking rabbi. Rabbi Hillel Maizels, an immigrant from South Africa, and his wife Yael joined the comminity and rejuvinated one of the dying congregations in the city by attracting both English-speaking immigrants and other residents.
Photo: Rabbi Hillel Maizels '95 with Avi Zimmerman '95. Read more.
Ethiopian rabbi brings synagogue to life
Rabbi Shalom, who immigrated through Operation Moses, woos a congregation of Holocaust survivors
by Itamar Eichner – Published Ynet News October 11, 2010.
It was exactly two years ago that Yedioth Ahronoth's David Regev published a story about the appointment of Rabbi Sharon Shalom, a 37-year old Ethiopian who married an Ashkenazi Israeli and fathered four, to the position of rabbi of Kdoshei Yisrael Synagogue in Kiryat Gat.
His appointment as an Ethiopian rabbi serving a congregation of Holocaust survivors was unprecedented, yet there is only one way to describe what Rabbi Shalom has managed to accomplish in the past two years – a revolution. Under his care, the dying synagogue became the source of a young, modern, thriving community.
Since his arrival, the synagogue is constantly packed with congregants and visitors. On Rosh Hashana alone, 300 came through its doors – more than double what the synagogue is capable of holding.
Ziva and David '80 Schapiro, featured in "Planting Hope"
by Ruth Eglash – Published Jerusalem Post Monday, June 22, 2010.
It’s a Sunday morning at the Ligdol V’lifroah Child and Family Services facility in Ramat Beit Shemesh, just outside Jerusalem.
Known locally as Merkaz Rakefet, the modern well-equipped center is bustling. Phones are ringing nonstop and almost all of the 10 colorful, toyfilled therapy rooms are in use.
Little children hold on tightly to their parents’ hands as they are led through the sun-filled, air-conditioned hallways to participate in a variety of speech therapy, occupational therapy or other type of learning support session.
“It’s always busy like this,” explains Ziva Schapiro, founder and director of the center, who made aliya with her husband, David [alumnus 1980], and two of their four children (the other two were born here) in January 1990. “We provide services for about 450 children a month, about 2,000 children a year.”
Spielberg of the underground
Aryeh Halivni hopes to record testimonies of 5,000 veterans of pre-state organizations and of the War of Independence.
Aryeh Halivni dreams of becoming Steven Spielberg. Actually, the young American-born Orthodox man, who immigrated to Israel a few years ago, has no pretensions of being a successful Hollywood film director and producer. He is merely interested in creating a documentary enterprise in Israel similar to the video archive the famous director has established, which contains interviews with Holocaust survivors. Copies of those testimonies, gathered by Spielberg's Shoah Foundation Institute at the University of Southern California, have been given to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Authority in Jerusalem.
Halivni's project, called Toldot Yisrael, has a slightly different twist: "I want to interview, film and perpetuate the memory of veterans of the [pre-state] Haganah, Etzel and Lehi underground organizations, of the clandestine immigration operation Aliyah Bet and of the War of Independence," he explains, noting that the name of his enterprise was taken from the last line of Natan Alterman's poem "Magah Hakesef" ("The Silver Platter").
"My object is to preserve the personal stories of veterans from that period for future generations, by capturing them on video," says Livni, who is 36. "The plan is to build an archive of unedited oral history accounts." Read more.