New and Noteworthy Books

Tradition Online | December 28, 2021

Yitzhak Lewis, A Permanent Beginning: R. Nachman of Braslav and Jewish Literary Modernity (SUNY Press)
As a reimagination of Rebbe Nachman’s influential literary genius, Lewis explores the cultural, intellectual, and political underpinnings of Nachman’s time and examines the influences of the 19th century on modern Jewish literature. 

Jonathan D. Sarna, Coming to Terms with America: Essays on Jewish History, Religion, and Culture (JPS)
This anthology by the leading scholar of American Jewish history offers studies in three sections grappling with the relationships Jews faced with their secular surroundings, the polemic between the strong roots of tradition and the promise of the progressive era, and the understanding of the relationship between Jewish and Christian thought within the public and political spheres. 

Benji Levy, Covenant and the Jewish Conversion Question: Extending the Thought of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (Palgrave Macmillan)
Levy attempts to apply the thought of Rabbi Soloveichik in understanding the deeply controversial conversion processes and to bridge the gap between Jewish philosophical and rabbinical sources with the modern dilemma of conversion. 

Mira Balberg and Haim Weiss, When Near Becomes Far: Old Age in Rabbinic Literature (Oxford University Press)
When Near Becomes Far offers a nuanced literary and rabbinic understanding of aging in Jewish communities, tackling an array of questions and problems. For instance, the authors question how Judaism understands and celebrates old age and sheds light on some of the difficulties elderly Jewish individuals experience in their communities. 

Jewish Women’s History from Antiquity to the Present, edited by Federica Francesconi and Rebecca Lynn Winer (Wayne State University Press)
This work explores and examines the biblical, rabbinic, and literary texts of the past to better understand and reinterpret the roles women have in modern society. Likewise, the collection examines the causes of women’s role in ritual observance aiming to create a more open and comprehensive way to approach this long-standing issue.

Selected works of Katie Brown, A.M. Kaizer, and I.A. Lasky, London Yiddishtown: East End Jewish Life in Yiddish Sketch and Story, 1930-1950, translated with commentary by Vivi Lachs (Wayne State University Press)
In a successful attempt to reanimate the previously untranslated works of three British-Yiddish authors, Lachs retells the stories of the Jews in the 1930s and ‘40s to a modern audience, bringing to life the social and economic struggles, family life, and daily immigrant life.

Daniel Roth, Third-Party Peacemakers in Judaism: Text, Theory, and Practice (Oxford University Press)
Roth compiles and presents case studies of third-party peacemakers from Jewish classical, medieval, and early-modern rabbinic literature. Based on the author’s personal experience with religious conflict resolution and peacemaking, this book examines halakhic sources in concert with modern peacemaking.

Hasidism, Suffering, and Renewal: The Prewar and Holocaust Legacy of Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, edited by Don Seeman, Daniel Reiser, and Ariel Evan Mayse (SUNY Press, 2021)
This volume contains extensive insights into the life of R. Kalonymus Kalman Shapira’s pre-War career and legacy, analyzing and anthologizing his sermons, letters, and speeches to shape a profound understanding of faith and suffering in a post-Holocaust world. 

J. David Bleich, DNA in Halakhah (Ktav Publishing House, 2021)
As is well-known to readers of TRADITION, R. Bleich’s work focuses on bridging the gap between science and contemporary halakha—a true reckoning of Torah UMadda— as he explores recent scientific phenomena to understand timeless halachic controversies. The book is drawn from his series of columns on DNA first published in our pages.

Jewish Religious Life in Poland Since 1970, edited by Francois Guesnet, Antony Polonsky, Ada Rapoport-Albert, and Marcin Wodzinski (Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry 33)

This volume focuses on the religious, historical, and sociological aspects of modern Polish Jewry. With a fresh approach to understanding Hasidism, this volume brings to life women’s religious practices and reevaluates Jewish responses to assimilation, showing the continuity of Jewish praxis and examining what it means to be a Jew in an ever-emerging world. 

Rabbi Sacks and the Community We Built Together, edited by Michael Laitner and David Collins (United Synagogue)
This moving collection provides insights, stories, articles, and photographs of the late Rabbi Sacks zt”l by his family members and colleagues. 

Aaron Adler, Seventy Conversations In Transit: With HaGaon HaRav Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l (Urim Publications)
This book contains some enchanting vignettes of R. Adler’s term as shamash to the Rav. It provides first-person documentation of several well-known stories, and offers personal insight to the Rav’s Torah, and perhaps no less important, his humanity (and wit). 

Joseph Citron, Isaiah Horowitz’s Shnei Luhot Ha-Berit and the Pietistic Transformation of Jewish Theology: Revealing a Concealed Covenant (Brill)
Citron’s detailed study of R. Isaiah Horowitz’s works reveals the importance of the pioneering effort he made in creating an organic Jewish theological system grounded in the mystical structures of Kabbala and embedded in thought and legal practice following Orthodox Jewish principles.

Rebekka Voß, Disputed Messiahs: Jewish and Christian Messianism in the Ashkenazi World During the Reformation (Wayne State University Press)
This comparative study examines Jewish messianism in its broader European cultural, social, and religious contexts within the surrounding Christian society. Were Reformation-era end-time expectations by Jews influenced by Christian trends – and vice-verse?

Shimshon Meir Frankel, The Wisdom of Getting Unstuck (Mosaica Press)
This personal growth manuel, informed by a Torah perspective and sources, understands that we live in an age of anxiety. The author, a rabbi, educator, and clinical psychologist, offers strategies to help regain one’s sense of self-control.

שמואל פיינר, עת חדשה: יהודים באירופה במאה השמונה עשרה 1750-1800 (מרכז זלמן שזר)

Shmuel Feiner continues his survey of the Jewish condition moving forward into the second half of the 18th century through the opposing lenses of the promise of the enlightenment and humanism, on one side, and religious conservativism and inwardness on the other. Through fascinating vignettes this book offers a tour of the great events and figures of the era.

ירון בן-נאה, חגי פלאי, ומשנ אידל, ר’ יוסף קארו: היסטוריה, הלכה, קבלה (מרכז זלמן שזר)

This triple-authored volume on R. Yosef Karo portrays the historical background and biography of the “Mehaber”; an examination of his halakhic jurisprudence and its legacy as the author of the Beit Yosef and Shulhan Arukh; and explores his activities and role as a kabbalist.

יונתן גרוסמן, תורת הקורבנות: מחוות של בשר ורוח (הוצאת מגיד)

Yonatan Grossman explains the distinction between the sacrifices as they are presented in different texts. Surveying an array of Talmudic and Biblical sources, Grossman brings a modern perspective to understanding sacrifices. 

Appearance here does not preclude review in our print journal or on Publishers can contact our editor to submit titles. Complied with assistance from Rina Chaya Shamilov.


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