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Showing posts from September, 2015

Spark United

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Spark United Michaela Lawson
With Ashira Yosefah
Menorah Books / 172 pages
Spark United is the heartfelt and personal presentation of a journey from fundamentalist Christian to orthodox Jew. The author tells it as it is, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Whether the topic is phony rabbis and batei din, or the evil schemes of fundamentalist Christian groups trying to penetrate into the Jewish community, there are “no holds barred” in this very moving diary type reader.
From social ostracisation to phony batei din, and doubts whether the decision to convert is the right one, Spark United shares with use the Ruthian process that those who leave the fundamental Christian world are forced to face. Nevertheless, the book is distinct from most others of this genre as it is written by a Christian insider who became Jewish; it is not the story of a ba’al teshuva who became frum. Make no mistake, there are tremendous differences between the two, they are two very different journeys. For example,…

It’s Okay to Laugh

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It’s Okay to Laugh Gitty Stolik Mosaica / 242 Pages

It’s Okay to Laugh is a book that explores the importance of humor and laughter in Judaism. Reading like an inspirational self-help guide (likely by an author with a positive dose of well-channeled hyperactivity) we are treated to sources on joy, smiling, humor, and laughter from throughout the corpus of Torah literature.  There are also excerpts from medical professionals and others on the importance of humor. It is well spiced with real life stores and events where laughter can and should be infused.
Some of the topics covered are how to use humor, the benefits of humor, humor in the workplace, and humor in the classroom. There is also material on when jokes are not appropriate, and an especially interesting section on how our mind responds to various types of humor in various situations. A number of modern day frum comedians and merrymakers make an appearance in the book, as well.
The author successfully drives home her point tha…
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Succos Inspired
Rabbi Moshe Gersht Mosaica / 225 pages
Succos Inspired, as its name implies, is full of inspirational divrei Torah relating to Sukkot. It contains fifteen chapters that are divided into four units. Each unit focuses on a particular theme of the holiday. For example, the first unit is an extensive discussion on the meaning of the Clouds of Glory and their connection to Sukkot. One of my favorite pieces in this unit was the fascinating connection between the famous dispute on whether one should engage in full time study, or rather, work in order to make a living (the dispute between Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and Rabbi Ishmael) and the different interpretations of the symbolism of the Sukka (the dispute between Rabba and Rava).
The second unit focuses on the mitzva of dwelling in the Sukka. The third unit is on the arba minim, with some especially neat teachings on the arba minim that I am seeing for the first time. And, finally, the fourth unit “The Soul of Succos” is a …

The First Ten Days

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The First Ten Days Rabbi Yaacov Haber
Mosaica / 88 pages
For those unfamiliar, Rabbi Yaacov Haber (of TorahLab fame), has published an inspirational reader for the days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. The First Ten Days, as its names implies, has an entry for each of the aseret yemei teshuva with inspirational material based on the sefirot. Indeed, Rabbi Haber, one of the few who is able to dance between the worlds of nigleh and nistar, has adapted each of the ten sefirot to each of the Ten Days of Repentance by delivering an easy to read and easy to internalize lesson based on each of the sefirot. It is one of the few pieces of kabbala that even a dry halachist like me has benefited from.
Now in its third printing, each of the ten short chapters opens with an explanation of that day’s ‘sefira’, its relationship to the days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, and finally, some food for thought and questions to ask yourself in order to maximize this special time of year and ensur…