A Tidbit of Torah – Parshat Chaye Sarah 5784 Jewish Book Month

A Tidbit of Torah – Parshat Chaye Sarah 5784 Jewish Book Month

Celebrating Jewish Book Month
Given the current situation in Israel and the challenges facing Jews around the world I share with you several titles which I hope you will find edifying and even inspiring. Each of them has been featured as a Jewish Book Month Title in recent years.

Israel: A Con­cise His­to­ry of a Nation Reborn by Rabbi Daniel Gordis
Released in 2016 it is an excellent overview of Israel’s history. Here is an excerpt of the review written by Philip K. Jason for the Jewish Book Council.

Daniel Gordis’s new his­to­ry of Israel should become a stan­dard for years to come, per­haps even a clas­sic. At 576 pages, Israel: A Con­cise His­to­ry of a Nation Reborn can indeed be con­sid­ered con­cise, as so much more could be and has been writ­ten about each era and asso­ci­at­ed issues addressed in the book.

Gordis also has a new book on the Jewish Book Council’s list for this year entitled, Impos­si­ble Takes Longer: 75 Years After Its Cre­ation, Has Israel Ful­filled Its Founders’ Dreams?

Catch-67: The Left, the Right, and the Lega­cy of the Six-Day War by Mic­ah Good­man; Eylon Levy, trans.

From a review written by Stu Halpern on the book’s release in 2018.

In Catch-67, already a best­seller in Israel, Mic­ah Good­man con­vinc­ing­ly argues that although each side of the Israeli polit­i­cal divide believes they know the path to solv­ing ​“the Pales­tin­ian prob­lem,” both are incor­rect. But at the same time, in their own ways, they are each also cor­rect; that is what makes the issue so intractable.

Can We Talk About Israel?: A Guide for the Curi­ous, Con­fused, and Conflicted by Daniel Sokatch

In her review of this 2021 release Joy Getnick writes:

Can We Talk about Israel? is a supreme­ly nuanced dis­cus­sion of the Israeli-Pales­tin­ian con­flict, past and present. It is broad in scope yet detailed in analy­sis, thought-pro­vok­ing for the well-informed yet acces­si­ble for the new learn­er. It is an impor­tant and need­ed addi­tion to the books on the subject.
As the CEO of the New Israel Fund, Sokatch’s agen­da is quite clear, and he shares that stance up front. He runs an orga­ni­za­tion with a goal of advanc­ing Israel as a lib­er­al democ­ra­cy, and ensur­ing com­plete equal­i­ty for all inhab­i­tants. He believes that ​“the Israeli-Pales­tin­ian con­flict is, essen­tial­ly, a strug­gle between…‘righteous vic­tims.’” The book is not over­ly slant­ed for or against Israel, Israelis, or Pales­tini­ans. Sokatch pos­es crit­i­cal ques­tions, and strives to give hon­or to why dif­fer­ent peo­ples hold dif­fer­ent mem­o­ries about his­tor­i­cal events, or feel dif­fer­ent­ly about pos­si­ble solu­tions to con­tem­po­rary challenges.

Anti­semitism: Here and Now by Deborah E. Lipstadt
Professor Lipstadt was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 30, 2022 as the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, with the rank of Ambassador. Her book was completed and published in the wake of the Unite the Right ral­ly in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia in the sum­mer of 2017 and the Tree of Life in syn­a­gogue shoot­ing Pitts­burgh in 2018.

Lipstadt explores difficult issues such as: Is today’s anti­semitism the same as what we have experienced before, and if it is dif­fer­ent, how so? How does antisemitism manifest itself on both the far right and the left wing? Lipstadt also offers thoughts on how we can respond.

Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Nathan Englander
Englander’s newest book is featured as a Jewish Book Month Title for this year. While I have not yet read it, I have enjoyed his other works greatly.

From the Jewish Book Council:

“Eng­lan­der writes about the con­flict from mul­ti­ple points of views and gives insight into var­i­ous per­spec­tives on Israeli-Pales­tin­ian rela­tion­ships. While also being polit­i­cal, this sto­ry is filled with adven­ture. England­er writes about romance between a Pales­tin­ian and an Israeli nego­tia­tor, he writes about spies, espi­onage, and fam­i­ly secrets.”

Enjoy these and the many others wonderful books you discover.
Shabbat Shalom –
Rabbi David M. Eligberg

Musical Moment – Parshat Chaye Sarah
This week’s Torah portion details for us the end of the first generation of patriarchs and matriarchs telling us of the death of Sarah and later Avraham. Between these two events, the Torah brings us the marriage of Yitzchak and Rivka. These life cycle moments inspired the choice of this week’s musical moments.

Tribute – Safam

Joel Sussman wrote this song in memory of his father, Max.

Oh, the man was not a saint
Because no mortal man could be.
But the man he was the kind
I’ve tried so very hard to be,
For he said it does not matter
What you earn or where you live.
For a man he is remembered
By the way that he would give.

And the man he was a giver
And he gave with all his heart,
But it pained him so to take
Because he loved the giving part.
So I give to you my father dear
In sad memorium,
That this man he is a better man
For knowing he’s your son.

Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’mei rabah,
Sanctified and hallowed is His
Kingdom over us all.
Oseh shalom bim’romav
Hu ya’aseh shalom
Aleinu v’al kol Yisrael v’imru amen.

May God’s great name be praised
and acclaimed for now and evermore.
Y’hei sh’mei rabah m’varach
L’olam ul’olmei olmaya

So I give to you my father dear
In sad memorium,
That this man he is a better man
For knowing he’s your son.
Asher Bara

Here are two versions of this traditional wedding song. Enjoy the playfulness of both the Piamenta and Neshama Carlebach versions.


Neshama Carlebach


Asher Bara
Asher bara sasson v’simcha,
Chattan v’kallah
gilah, rina,
ditza, v’chedvah,
ahavah v’achava,
v’shalom v’rey’ut

He who created
happiness and bliss,
groom and bride.
Joy, gladness,
pleasure and delight,
love and harmony,
peace and companionship.