Judaism book reviews

The Koren Rosh Hashana Mahzor, Minhag Anglia

By Dr Jeremy Schonfield, September 22, 2011

Translation and commentary by Lord Sacks
Edited by Dayan Ivan Binstock,
Koren £29.99

This new machzor, the first of a hoped-for translation and commentary of the whole cycle by the Chief Rabbi, has been worth waiting for. And it has been quite a wait.

Machzorim in this country tend to come at intervals of around a century.


The Status of Women in Jewish Tradition

By Simon Rocker, August 25, 2011

Isaac Sassoon
Cambridge University Press, £45

In ancient days, the prophetess Huldah was said by one venerable sources to dispense her religious teaching from inside a yeshivah.


Review: In the Narrow Places

By Simon Rocker, July 28, 2011

Erica Brown
Maggid/OU, distributed by Kuperard, £15.99

We are now in the middle of the Three Weeks, the period from the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, when the Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem, to Tishah b'Av, commemorating the destruction of the two Temples (which begins on Monday week).


Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays

By Rabbi Harvey Belovski, June 16, 2011

Norman Lamm
Edited by David Shatz, OU Press, $45

This is an edited collection of sermons delivered over a 50-year period by Rabbi Norman Lamm, Chancellor of Yeshiva University and a well-known voice of modern Orthodoxy.


Review: The Wisdom Books

By Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild, May 12, 2011

A translation with commentary by Robert Alter, W.W.Norton, £25


Review: I'm God, You're Not

By Simon Rocker, March 31, 2011

Lawrence Kushner
Jewish Lights, $21.99


The Relationship of Orthodox Jews with Believing Jews of Other Religious Ideologies and Non-Believing Jews

By Rabbi Harvey Belovski, March 10, 2011

Edited Adam Mintz, Ktav $30

As suggested by its rather unwieldy title, this volume tackles some of the thornier aspects of inter-denominational interaction from modern Orthodox perspectives. It is a sequence of papers, originally presented at one of Yeshiva University's Orthodox Forums by a distinguished group of educators, professors and yeshivah heads.


Review: Great Reform Lives

By Simon Rocker, January 27, 2011

Edited Jonathan Romain
The Movement for Reform Judaism, £9.99

This short collection of pen portraits of leading Reform figures was produced to mark the bicentenary of the first Progressive service in 1810. Sketched by various members of the British Reform rabbinate, they have been edited by Jonathan Romain, who gives a typically concise and lucid introduction to the principles of Reform.


Exodus: The Book of Redemption

By Rabbi Harvey Belovski, December 29, 2010

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
OU/Maggid, £16.99

This second volume of Chief Rabbi Sacks's essays on the weekly parashiyot, containing articles adapted from his popular electronic Covenant and Conversation series, will find a broad and receptive audience.

Attractively produced, the book includes a powerful thematic introduction to Shemot and four essays for each of the 11 parashiyot. As ever, Rabbi Sacks blends literary and philosophical references with classic rabbinical sources to create a sophisticated, thought-provoking, yet readable, collection.


The Jews of San Nicandro

By Simon Rocker, December 2, 2010

John A Davis
Yale University Press, £20

I was talking recently to Professor Tudor Parfitt of London School’s Oriental and African Studies when he he mentioned a story which I had never heard before: about a band of Catholic villagers from San Nicandro in a remote region of south east Italy who took up Judaism in the 1930s and eventually settled in Israel. By chance, just a couple of days later, a new book on the subject appeared at the office.