There Are No Basketball Courts in Heaven
By Dovid Landesman
The Jewish Educational Workshop
Rabbi Dovid Landesman’s volume of essays on Jewish themes is funny, serious and always relevant. In this thought-provoking book, he asks, for example, why do young students frequently complain that Torah studies are boring? This is not because students are rebellious. Rabbi Landesman says. “Rather the source is the home, primarily the father who rarely attends minyan during the week, only occasionally participates in serious Torah learning, and has little respect for those who do. If this is the level of the father, what hope is there for the child?”
Rabbi Landesman, who currently lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh, has held a number of senior positions in Jewish education. To give you a sense of his wit, chapter headings include “The Neshamah Does Not Speak English Fluently”; “They Were Never on the Derech”; “Baruch Hashem, Nothing Has Changed (There Was Sinat Chinam 2,000 years Ago, and It Still Exists Today”).
An incisive and enlightening book, it is recommended to readers of all ages.
Tales Out of Jerusalem
By Emanuel Feldman
In the aftermath of the Six-Day War, Rabbi Emanuel Feldman wrote a powerful and moving book that captured the spiritual essence of that unique event. Since then Rabbi Feldman, who served as rabbi of Atlanta’s Beth Jacob Congregation for forty years and as editor of Tradition, the journal of the Rabbinical Council of America, has written eight other volumes revolving around Jewish life and thought in America and Israel. His latest book, entitled Tales out of Jerusalem, is a hefty work of 398 pages encompassing the pathos, the power and intense seriousness of Israeli life. Rabbi Feldman is always to the point, especially when he describes Israeli political leaders who almost never admit their mistakes.
Somewhere between Chareidi and Modern Orthodox, Rabbi Feldman is refreshingly open-minded and cannot be pigeonholed. This book, which includes poetry, humor and satire, reflects this openness.
Matis Greenblatt is literary editor of Jewish Action.