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Rabbi Robert Orkand

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Israeli and Palestinian flags painted on a wall; the red triangle of the Palestinian flag is the shape of Israel turned sideways

In his best-selling new book, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, American-born Israeli writer Yossi Klein Halevi explores the challenges of self-transformation and the quest for peace, themes central in his earlier books: Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist: The Story of a Transformation, At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land, and Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation. Halevi is a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, where he lives with his wife...

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View of a boys head from above as he reads Torah using a yad

Twenty-five years ago, Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin wrote Putting God on the Guest List: How to Reclaim the Spiritual Meaning of Your Child's Bar or Bat Mitzvah, winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award for the best religion book published in the United States. In that book, he sought to answer the question: “How can a 13-year-old boy or girl feel the spiritual promise of the event, the pull of the divine, and understand that he or she is participating in an event that has meaning both in the ancient past and in the very immediate present?”

His new book, the JPS B’nai Mitzvah Torah Commentary...

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Headshot of Daniel Gordis in blue shirt

Rabbi Daniel Gordis says he wrote Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn (Ecco Press, 2016) because he couldn’t find a history of Israel that captured its “extraordinary human drama” in a book of “reasonable length, intellectually serious, yet readable.” I caught up with Gordis, who is senior vice president and the Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College in Jerusalem, to talk about the book.

ReformJudaism.org: Why write this book now?

Rabbi Daniel Gordis: The vitriol concerning Israel has become so ridiculous that it has to be countered by knowledge. I wanted to...

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Matti Friedman was conscripted into the Israeli Defense Forces at 20, along with 19 other young recruits, and sent to a border outpost in Lebanon called Pumpkin Hill, which he describes as “a forgotten little corner of a forgotten little war.” Israeli casualties of Hezbollah guerilla attacks were code-named “flowers,” hence the title of his new book, Pumpkinflowers A Soldier’s Story (Algonquin Books, 2016).

Friedman provides us not only a superb memoir of his experiences in a battle zone, but also an insightful history of Israel’s wars in Lebanon from 1982 through 2006, which, he...

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Man wearing a blindfold - side view

Hardly a week goes by without news of religious extremists committing atrocities against people of other faiths in the name of God or some other holy cause. As a result, “religion” itself has been put on trial.

Is religion to blame for the moral failures of the world, as some charge, or is it humankind’s best hope for peace?

In his eminently readable new book, Putting God Second: How to Save Religion from Itself (Beacon Press), Rabbi Donniel Hartman, an Orthodox rabbi and teacher who is president of the prestigious Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, has jumped boldly...

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