Rabbi’s Recommended Readings
Rabbi Tilsen recommends the following books. You can find most of them in BEKI‘s Rosenkrantz Family Library, or purchase them from Amazon.com or wherever fine Judaica is sold.
- The JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh (known as the “New JPS” version) (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society) 1999. ISBN 0827606567. The most accurate translation of the Hebrew Bible along with the original Hebrew text.
- Etz Hayim: Torah & Commentary, David L. Lieber (ed.), Jules Harlow (ed.) (New York: USCJ & The Rabbinical Assembly) 2001. ISBN 0827607121. The Five Books of Moses and the Haftarot in Hebrew with the New JPS English and wonderful commentary. It is the large maroon Humash we use at BEKI.
- A History of the Jewish People, Haim H. Ben-Sasson, ed., (Cambridge: Harvard) 1976. ISBN 0674397312. A comprehensive if dry Zionist synopsis in 1170 pages showing how all of Jewish history leads up to the creation of the State of Israel.
- Siddur Sim Shalom, Jules Harlow, ed. (New York: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism) 1985. ISBN 0916219011. The prayer book we use at BEKI and in many Conservative communities. No home should be without one. Represents the traditional Askhenazic (European) liturgy. The introduction may be most helpful as an overview. Also available in a Shabbat & Festivals edition, which we use on Shabbat & Festival mornings. Students are encouraged to obtain Or Hadash — A Commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom by Rabbi Reuven Hammer in place of the Shabbat & Festival edition. 2003, ISBN 0916219208. Or Hadash includes the Shabbat & Festival edition of Sim Shalom.
- Jewish Liturgy: A Comprehensive History, Ismar Elbogen, translated by Raymond P. Schendlin (Philadelphia: JPS) 1993. ISBN 0827604459. Originally published in German in 1913 under the title Der judische Gottesdienst in seiner geschichtlichen Entwicklung. A monumental work.
- Justice and Mercy: Commentary on the Liturgy of the New Year and the Day of Atonement, Max Arzt (New York: Burning Book Press), 1963. A fine introduction to the themes and literary history of the High Holy Days prayer book. Worth searching for in a used book store.
- The Halakhic Process: A Systemic Analysis, Joel Roth (New York: JTS) 1986 (Moreshet Series, Vol 13). ISBN 0873340353. The most complete, concise and accurate explanation of how the system of Jewish law works.
- The Sacred Cluster, Rabbi Ismar Schorsch. A concise statement of the essence of Conservative Judaism.
- Rereading the Rabbis: A Woman’s Voice, Judith Hauptman (Westbrook Press) 1999. ISBN 0813334063. Fascinating insights into the development of the status of women in Jewish law and culture.
- Conservative Judaism: Our Ancestors to Our Descendants, Elliot N. Dorff, (New York: United Synagogue) 1981. A concise outline of the history and development of the Conservative Movement written for youth. Order from USCJ at 1.800.594.5617.
- The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning, Maurice Lamm (New York: Jonathan David), 1969 (revised 2000). ISBN 0824604229. Although composed by a non-Conservative scholar, still among the best books detailing common laws and customs pertaining to mourning. Author often does not differentiates between the idiosyncratic custom of his community and mainstream halakha.
- Does God Belong in the Bedroom?, Michael Gold (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society), 1992. ISBN 0827604211. A liberal traditional interpretation of the sources.
- The Case for Israel, Alan Dershowitz (Wiley) 2004. ISBN-13 978-0471679523. An overview of oft-repeated myths, offering perspective on discriminatory criticism of Israel.
- Contemporary Jewish Ethics, Menachem Marc Kellner, ed., (New York: Sanhedrin Press) 1978. Twenty-eight topical essays by renowned writers. Not as contemporary as they used to be, but some essays are timeless, if you can find them.