On Sunday, October 30, I traveled to New York to participate in the rededication of Dr. Philip Birnbaum’s gravestone. About a year ago, I noticed that Birnbaum’s gravestone of 8 words had 3 errors. So I worked with Rabbi JJ Schacter and the Jewish Center of Manhattan to fix it. Sunday was the day I got to see the fruits of my efforts. Here are links to recordings of the day’s events:
I’m very pleased to share my latest for the Lehrhaus, a history of a heated debate over how to translate poetry in the Machzor, the Jewish holiday prayer book.
On one side, you’ll meet the poet Nina Salaman, the first woman to give the sermon on Shabbat in a British synagogue. You’ll also meet Israel Zangwill, the famous Anglo-Jewish novelist who despite not being very observant of Jewish law, wrote some of the most memorable translations of the Yom Kippur prayers.
On the other side, you’ll meet Philip Birnbaum, a devoted believer in the importance of the Hebrew language, whose translations are still ubiquitous in American shuls.
I just published my 11th article for The Lehrhaus, where I am also one of the editors. This article takes me outside my comfort zone: I talk about the Sotah trial in Bamidbar (Numbers) 5 and three writers from very different backgrounds who approach the passage in a counterintuitive, yet fascinating way:
How do we know what the Beit Hamikdash (Jerusalem Temple) really looked like if it was destroyed nearly 2,000 years ago? And yet, its picture is everywhere. Read more in my latest article for Jewish Action:
As Rosh Hashanah approaches, some synagogues are dusting off their prayer books translated by Dr. Philip Birnbaum, just as they’ve been doing for the past 70 years. Here I reflect on the history of the Birnbaum machzor and why it’s still around after so long:
How should we end the recitation of kinot on Tisha Ba’av morning? Eli Tziyon, although perhaps the most famous kinah, isn’t quite the last one. In most contemporary editions, its Shomron Kol Titein by Solomon ibn Gabirol. My latest article at The Lehrhaus explores why:
In honor of Israel Independence Day, the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals posted my article on Rabbi Yitzhak Yaakov Reines (1839-1915), founder of Mizrachi, which appears in the most recent volume of their journal Conversations:
I have a new article up at Lehrhaus today. The Passover Seder suggests orderliness, but the Haggadah is hard to follow. How best can we understand the Haggadah’s odd storytelling techniques? Click below to find out: