Israel Drazin

Author

Mom’s Yartzeit is tonight. Here is her heroic story.

As my Dad was a Renaissance man, Mom — born in 1908, two years after Dad — was a Renaissance woman. Unlike most women of her age, she had an extensive Judaic education, attended a teachers’ training school in Hunter College, and obtained a teaching diploma. Among her siblings were community leaders and educators, including […]

A very good Bible commentary

Koren Publishers’ “The Steinsaltz Humash: Humash Translation and Commentary” by Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz is excellent. The word “Humash” means “five” and refers to the Five Books of Moses which is in this volume in clear Hebrew text in the beautiful Koren font, with a completely new modern English translation that is faithful to the […]

Was the biblical Joseph autistic?

  While the idea presented in Samuel J. Levine’s book Was Yosef on the Spectrum, that the biblical Joseph, son of Jacob, was autistic, having Asperger’s Syndrome, may bother some people who prefer to think that Israel’s ancient leaders had no imperfection,[1] they will still find much to learn and much to appreciate in this […]

God vs. gods

Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein’s book “God versus gods: Judaism in the Age of Idolatry” (Mosaica Press, 2018), which is found on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2NO4jLy is filled with information on every page about Jewish history, ideology, God, idols, superstition, and mistakes made by the ancients. There are seven chapters on the history of monotheism in 276 pages, many […]

Bin Gorion’s wonderful selection of Jewish folktales

As I mentioned in my review of Miriam & Other Stories, Micha Yosef Berdichevsky, who changed his name to Micha Joseph bin Gorion, was bothered his entire life with ideas and practices in Judaism which turned him into a scoffer, an attitude that is reflected in his stories in Miriam and sometimes in this book […]

The new Rabbinical Council of America Siddur

    This new 1452-page siddur, which includes 106 additional pages of essays, edited in chief by Rabbi Basil Herring, shows why it is beneficial to have more than one version of the siddur. This new version, with weekday, shabbat, yom tov prayers, and a host of additional sections, offers much that is not in many […]

The Chanukah story does not battle against Greek culture

   Many people are mistakenly convinced that the Jewish holiday of Chanukah celebrates the victory of the Jewish religion over Hellenism and that the enemy was Greece. Neither supposed fact is true. The Jews in Judea, Egypt and other countries of the diaspora had a longstanding favorable relationship with the Greeks and Hellenism well before […]

What prompted Jacob to wrestle with an angel?

  The extraordinary and astonishing episode of Jacob wrestling an angel at the Wadi Jabbok raises many questions and an assortment of conflicting answers.   The text The wrestling episode is related in Genesis 32:25–33. Jacob had reached the Wadi Jabbok on his return home after an absence from Canaan of some twenty years. He […]

Do Jews believe in angels?

 The Bible and prayers mention angels, but Jews differed in the past and still do today on the existence of angels. Should we interpret these allusions symbolically, and deny the existence of angels? Or, should we take these references literally, and insist that not only do angels exist but that they are involved in and […]

Fascinating tales by a scoffer

  “Miriam & Other Stories,”[1] is a splendid collection of stories by Ukrainian-born Micha Josef Berdichevsky (1865-1921). [2] He was a journalist, a scholar with a PhD, a writer of fiction, and a collector of Jewish legends which he published in a book called “Mimekor Yisrael,” From an Israel Source.[3] He wrote in Hebrew, Yiddish, […]

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