Judaism book reviews

A model way to read the Torah

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2013

For commentators on the Torah, the white spaces between the letters can be as significant as the letters themselves. What the text does not say has given rabbis down the ages the freedom to fill in the gaps in biblical stories, an invitation to creative reinterpretation which they have been only happy to take.


A torch carried from the past

By Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild, June 30, 2013

For three weeks Jonathan Wittenberg and his dog Mitzpah walked through Germany and Holland with a torch lit from the ner tamid of the Westend Synagogue in Frankfurt, the synagogue of his grandfather Georg Salzburger, in order to light the ner tamid in the new building of his own synagogue.


A question of blessing Israel

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2013

The prayer for the state of Israel has become so much a regular part of the Shabbat morning service in most synagogues that it is easy to forget that its wording is still a source of controversy.


The greatness of the Gaon

By Simon Rocker, April 8, 2013

If anyone were to open a rabbinic hall of fame, then one of the first entrants would be Elijah ben Solomon, the 18th-century authority known as the Vilna Gaon (“Genius”). The reclusive scholar, who was too busy studying and writing to publish in his lifetime, was the presiding spirit of a community which became the intellectual capital of east European Jewry.


Learning from the Litvaks

By Rabbi Dr Harvey Belovski, March 4, 2013

A fascinating collaboration between Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein of South Africa and Rabbi Berel Wein, the historian and Torah teacher, this work considers the scholarly and ethical achievements of the Lithuanian yeshivah world and its key rabbinical leaders.


In the footprints of Lord Sacks

By Simon Rocker, February 4, 2013

The first tribute to Lord Sacks in his final year as chief rabbi will take place on Monday night at a book launch. This time it will be not for one of his own books — and his output has been prolific — but a collection of essays written in his honour.


Little room for Europe

By Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild, December 27, 2012

This is a beautifully produced book, clearly set out and accessibly written, which will no doubt make it a welcome addition to those who want to buy an attractive gift for a child celebrating bar- or batmitzvah.


Meeting points for Abraham's children

By Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild, November 30, 2012

The product of a group who met over many years, this book is remarkable for the appreciative openness its members achieved with each other. Dialogue is always a journey, beginning with suspicion of the other accompanied by a desire to defend the obvious rightness of one’s own position. If it works, there is meeting and engagement, re-imaging of one’s own tradition and of the other.


The worldly wisdom of the Talmud

By Simon Rocker, August 10, 2012

The Talmud is often thought of as a legal source-book, which sets the precedents for Jewish practice. But it is also a work of imagination in which the rabbis explored the world and its ways through parables and anecdotes.


What does the Bible say?

By Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild, July 6, 2012

Bible is used by very different groups to support their own view of morality, and this book was written not to provide the definitive view of what the Bible teaches, but to make the biblical evidence known to those who would use it.