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Targum Shlishi Supports Book Projects Ranging from Jewish-American History to Elie Wiesel’s Teaching to Navigating Grief

Several authors and/or publishers have received support from Targum Shlishi in the past several months, as part of the foundation’s core commitment to education and knowledge exchange. The foundation’s funding helps authors with various aspects of publication-related work, including research, editing, and translation.

“The book and authors we support range widely, but a common theme through these projects is their potential contribution to the Jewish world,” says Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi. “Books are an area where modest grants can have a significant impact. Most of these authors labor for many years to produce their unique works, and it is our honor at Targum Shlishi to support them. While not everyone is in a position to support them financially, we can all contribute by choosing to read and discuss some of the new books being published in the areas of Jewish studies, Jewish history, religious studies, and more, and by partaking in and fostering the conversation that these books generate.”

The following is a selection of some of the book projects Targum Shlishi has supported recently. A second update will follow in the coming weeks with more books.

Rabbi Shagar, Faith Shattered and Restored: Judaism in the Postmodern Age

(Maggid Modern Classics Series, 2017), edited by Dr. Zohar Maor, translated by Elie Leshem, preface by Aryeh Rubin, afterword by Rabbi Shalom Carmy

Targum Shlishi’s director, Aryeh Rubin, wrote the preface to this important book. Rav Shagar (Rabbi Shimon Gershon Rosenberg) (1949–2007), one of Israel’s most creative and influential thinkers, was a Torah scholar, religious postmodern thinker, founder and head of Yeshivat Siach Yitzchack, and the author of several books on Talmud, Jewish philosophy, and contemporary religious society in Israel. This volume, a collection of essays, is the first authoritative collection of his work in English. These selected essays consider the intersection of Judaism and postmodernity and the challenges—and opportunities—posed by postmodernity. In this volume, Rav Shagar explores a wide range of topics, among them thinkers such as Rav Kook, Rav Nachman of Breslov, Wittgenstein, Lacan, and Lyotard; he also examines questions of faith, certainty, freedom, justice, nationalism, mysticism, and love. Targum Shlishi supported the translation into English of this volume.
Maggid Modern Classics series publishes work by the premier thinkers of the Modern Orthodox/Religious Zionist community.

Please note: The publisher has generously offered a 25 percent discount on this volume for all readers of this newsletter. Simply go to this link and enter the promotion code: MAGGID25.


Who Rules the Synagogue? Religious Authority and the Formation of American Judaism

by Zev Eleff

Who Rules the Synagogue: Religious Authority and the Formation of American Judaism  (Oxford University Press, 2016) explores how American Jewry in the nineteenth century transformed from a lay-dominated community to one whose leading religious authorities were rabbis. While previous scholars have chartered the religious history of American Judaism during this formative era, no work has focused on the changing role of religious authority in this period. Early in the century, American Jews consciously excluded rabbinic forces from playing a role in their community’s development. But by the final decades of the 1800s, ordained rabbis—most noticeably in the commotion caused by the Pittsburgh rabbinical conference of 1885—were in full control of America’s leading synagogues and large sectors of American Jewish life.

Investigating this change, its causes, and its controversies through time will offer a new understanding of religious history during this century. The American Civil War played a major role in these changes, as did a widening gulf between the Jewries of Europe and America, which freed Jewish clergymen in the United States from the strong grip European rabbis. Additionally, the aftermath of the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution provided opportunities for select members of the American Jewish community to amass great fortunes and to support the construction of new synagogues that provided new opportunities for the ministry. For the first time, laypeople were no longer at the helm of their religious institutions and no longer felt compelled to serve or frequent their synagogues. In turn, vested with great power, America’s rabbis had to figure out how to use their authority to bring congregants back to their sacred spaces.

Zev Eleff is an assistant professor of Jewish history at Touro College and chief academic officer at Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, IL.


Literature of Memory: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom

by Ariel Burger

Ariel Burger spent several years as Elie Wiesel’s student and then as his teaching assistant. Literature of Memory: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom (Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt, forthcoming 2018) is an exploration of Wiesel’s unique approach to teaching and learning, including plenty of personal anecdotes and reflections. Burger hopes the book that this account of a committed Jewish moral voice will yield lessons of relevance to leaders in many fields, and particularly to young emerging leaders, as he feels there is a dearth of leaders today with finely tuned moral compasses willing to speak up on global issues. Additionally, he is concerned that many young people have little awareness of the events of the twentieth century and are largely ignorant of the Holocaust. He believes that this loss of memory, not only of the Holocaust, but of history generally, and of our civic and religious traditions, is a contributing factor in the culture of ambivalence and political correctness common on college campuses and elsewhere.

Wiesel’s classroom helped address these issues—loss of memory, personal responsibility to respond to the challenging issues in our world, and the shadows of ambivalence and political correctness. Wiesel’s approach in the classroom was “unabashedly Jewish yet universal,” explains Burger; Wiesel inoculated students from many backgrounds against these intellectual traps, giving them tools to grapple honestly with complex issues and competing values. In particular, Wiesel’s approach helped students to hold the tension between particular identity and universal concern by modeling his own deeply committed Judaism and his commitment to human rights around the world.

Ariel Burger received his Ph.D. under Elie Wiesel. He is a teacher, community leader and artist, and is based in Massachusetts.

From Mourning to Morning

by Simeon Schreiber

“It’s important to grieve. Grief is a natural, cathartic, healing process. There is nothing wrong with it. You have to allow it,” says Simeon Schreiber, a rabbi who has worked for many years as a hospital chaplain. Schreiber has long seen the need for his book From Mourning to Morning (Urim Publications). His book deals with grieving, myths about grief, and the proper way to make a shiva call.  The shiva call is a particular focus of the book because Schreiber feels that people have forgotten how to make shiva calls and as a result, they are not always as comforting as they have the potential to be. Sometimes visitors will try to distract the mourner(s) by talking about superficial topics such as sports or the stock market, rather than comforting the mourner and allowing them to express their loss. Shreiber encourages those making shiva calls to “allow the person sitting shiva to really talk about the person who has passed away.” As he notes, “If they are sad or they cry, there is nothing wrong with that.” Schreiber also points out that grief is very personal and subjective. Although there is no one size fits all, his book offers practical advice for both mourners and those around them.  Simeon Schreiber is senior staff chaplain at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami and with the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

About Targum Shlishi

Targum Shlishi, a Raquel and Aryeh Rubin Foundation, is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. For more information on the foundation, visit its website. Follow Aryeh Rubin, Targum Shlishi’s director, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Aryeh5.

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