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Yesod reading list

Judaism and Jewish Thought

Leadership and General Thought

Jewish Fiction

 

Judaism and Jewish Thought:

I Asked for Wonder: A Spiritual Anthology -Abraham Joshua Heschel

Considered by many to be one of the most significant Jewish theologians of the 20th century, Abraham Heschel finds just the right words to startle the mind and delight the heart. He addresses and challenges the whole person, portraying that rarest of human phenomena—the holy man.

The Sabbath– Abraham Joshua Heschel

The classic book by 20th century Jewish philosopher, Abraham Joshua Heschel. In this short, poetic book he offers a powerful and relevant way of thinking about Shabbat and its contemporary meaning that transcends denomination.

 

A Passion for a People: Lessons from the life of a Jewish Educator – Avraham Infeld with Clare Goldwater

Avraham Infeld’s book takes the reader on a journey through Jewish Peoplehood, that powerful yet intangible idea that connects Jews together, no matter where they live or how they practice. Starting with the core components of Peoplehood, and ending with his ideas about the future of the Jewish People.

 

If All the Seas Were Ink: A Memoir – Ilana Kurshan

At the age of twenty-seven, alone in Jerusalem in the wake of a painful divorce, Ilana Kurshan joined the world’s largest book club, learning daf yomi, Hebrew for “daily page” of the Talmud, a book of rabbinic teachings spanning about six hundred years. Her story is a tale of heartache and humor, of love and loss, of marriage and motherhood, and of learning to put one foot in front of the other by turning page after page.

 

My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew – Abigail Pogrebin

This book explores what has kept Jewish holidays alive and vibrant, for thousands of years. My Jewish Year travels through this calendar’s signposts with candor, humor, and a trove of information, capturing the arc of Jewish observance through the eyes of a relatable, wandering―and wondering―Jew.

 

Ceremony and Celebration: Introduction to the Holidays – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Explore the deep meanings of the central Jewish holidays in this excellent overview. Rabbi Sacks focuses on Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Pesach and Shavuot, to expose what these holidays are really about and how to connect to them.

Future Tense: Jews, Judaism, and Israel in the Twenty-first Century – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Historically, Jews have thought of themselves in terms of the biblical phrase, ‘The people that dwells alone.’ In the current global environment, this is dangerous. It leads to the isolation of Jews, Judaism and Israel. Future tense attempts to persuade Jews and non-Jews alike that Jews, Judaism and Israel have something unique to contribute to the future. It provides an overarching vision for the future of Judaism, Jewish life and Israel for the twenty-first century.

 

Radical Then, Radical Now: The Legacy of the World’s Oldest Religion – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks 

A classic statement in answer to the question “how has Judaism survived for so long and, more importantly, what does it offer us today?” Clearly written and accessible, this is an inspiring statement about Jewish identity and the beauty of Jewish life in the contemporary world.

 

A Short History of the Jewish People: From Legendary Times to Modern Statehood – Raymond P. Scheindlin

Written by a respected Hebrew scholar, cultural historian, noted author, and rabbi, A Short History of the Jewish People carefully describes the story of a people as varied as the many cultures in which they have lived. Including detailed maps and stirring photos, as well as timelines and sidebars, this pioneering work is a valuable resource for anyone broadly curious about the Jewish people.

 

Pirkei Avot: A Social Justice Commentary -Shmuly Yanklowitz

Pirkei Avot is the oldest text of Jewish practical wisdom. In many ways, the words of Pirkei Avot were the first recorded manifesto of social justice in Western civilization. This commentary explores the text through a lens of contemporary social justice and moral philosophy, engaging both classical commentators and modern thinkers.

 

 

Leadership and General Thought:

The Road to Character -David Brooks

In this New York Times Number One Bestseller, David Brooks David Brooks argues that our hunger for wealth and status is eroding our ability to create meaningful inner lives. To show us how to live better, he looks at people whose sense of humility was fundamental to their success. What they all understood was a simple but counterintuitive truth: in order to fulfil yourself, you must learn how to forget yourself.

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts -Brene Brown

In her #1 NYT bestsellers, Brené Brown taught us what it means to dare greatly, rise strong and brave the wilderness. Now, based on new research conducted with leaders, change makers and culture shifters, she’s showing us how to put those ideas into practice so we can step up and lead.

 

Take Your Soul to Work: 365 Meditations on Every Day Leadership – Erica Brown

Jewish leadership expert and scholar Erica Brown condenses her ideas about leadership and how to practice it every day into accessible exercises and readings that help Jewish community professionals reflect, grow and put their best selves into their acts of daily leadership.

 

Catch-67: The Left, the Right, and the Legacy of the Six-Day War – Micah Goodman

A controversial examination of the internal Israeli debate over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a best-selling Israeli author Since the Six-Day War, Israelis have been entrenched in a national debate over whether to keep the land they conquered or to return some, if not all, of the territories to Palestinians. In 2017, best-selling Israeli author Micah Goodman published a balanced and insightful analysis of the situation that quickly became one of Israel’s most debated books of the year.

 

Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn – Daniel Gordis

A comprehensive yet accessible history of the state of Israel from its inception to present day, Gordis offers us a brief but thorough account of the cultural, economic, and political history of this complex nation, from its beginnings to the present. Accessible, levelheaded, and rigorous, Israel sheds light on Israel’s past so we can understand its future.

 

Thinking, Fast and Slow -Daniel Kahneman

A groundbreaking tour of the mind, explaining the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation―each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.

 

It’s Our Challenge: A Social Entrepreneurship Approach to Jewish Education – Jonathan Mirvis

Drawing from the lessons of social entrepreneurship, Jonathan Mirvis offers a model for understanding the work of Jewish community professionals as making social change; envisioning and implementing new ideas to meet evolving community needs. He brings a practical model for doing this, illuminated with lots of examples.

 

The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters -Priya Parker

In The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker argues that the gatherings in our lives are lackluster and unproductive–which they don’t have to be. We rely too much on routine and the conventions of gatherings when we should focus on distinctiveness and the people involved. At a time when coming together is more important than ever, Parker sets forth a human-centered approach to gathering that will help everyone create meaningful, memorable experiences, large and small, for work and for play.

 

Lessons in Leadership: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

In this companion volume to his celebrated series Covenant & Conversation, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks mines the weekly Torah portions for insights into the nature of power, authority, and leadership. Profound, eloquent, and deeply inspiring, Lessons in Leadership reveals the biblical secrets of influence, as relevant now as they were three thousand years ago.

 

Relational Judaism (and the Handbook) – Ron Wolfson

“It’s all about relationships!” This is the key message of Ron Wolfson’s book, which argues that the key to thriving Jewish communities and organizations is building meaningful relationships. Using many helpful examples (drawn from the American community) Wolfson demonstrates what can be done and how to think about relationship-building. This book also comes with a practical Handbook for how to implement these ideas in your community.

 

Jewish Fiction:

The Red Tent by-Anita Diamant

Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent is an extraordinary and engrossing tale of ancient womanhood and family honour. Told in Dinah’s voice, it opens with the story of her mothers – the four wives of Jacob – each of whom embodies unique feminine traits, and concludes with Dinah’s own startling and unforgettable story of betrayal, grief and love.

 

The Hilltop -Assaf Gavron

On a rock-strewn hilltop in the heart of the West Bank stands a lone second-hand shipping container, a generator and some goats. On this contested land, Othniel Assis – under the wary gaze of the neighbouring Palestinian village – installs his ever-expanding family. As he cheerfully manipulates government agencies, more settlers arrive and, with a hodge-podge of bankers, teachers, kibbutzniks and townies, religious and secular, the outpost takes root. But when a curious journalist stumbles into their midst, the settlement becomes the focus of an international diplomatic scandal.

 

Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor – Yossi Klein HaLevi

Israeli-American scholar and journalist Yossi Klein HaLevi writes a series of imaginary letters to his Palestinian neighbor, trying to reach across the barriers that exist in a highly conflicted region. In lyrical, evocative language, he unravels the complex strands of faith, pride, anger and anguish he feels as a Jew living in Israel, using history and personal experience as his guide.

 

Eternal Life -Dara Horn

Celebrated American-Jewish author, Dara Horn’s latest work of fiction is about life and death, the power of the generations and much more, as she imagines Rachel, a Jewish woman whose life spans more than 2000 years. Rich, beautiful and profoundly contemporary.

 

Einstein and the Rabbi: Searching for the Soul – Naomi Levy

Based on the famous correspondence between Albert Einstein and a grieving rabbi, this book is an inspiring, deeply affecting book for people of all faiths filled with universal truths that will help us reclaim our own souls and glimpse the unity that has been evading us.

 

 The Chosen -Chaim Potok

Following a baseball game that nearly became a religious war, two Jewish boys become friends. Danny comes from the strict Hasidic sect that keeps him bound in centuries of orthodoxy. Reuven is brought up by a father patently aware of the twentieth century. Everything tries to destroy their friendship, but they use honesty with each other as a shield and it proves an impenetrable protection.

 

As a driven Leaf -Milton Steinberg

First published in 1939, this masterpiece of modern fiction tells the tale of renegade Talmudic sage Elisha ben Abuyah s struggle to reconcile his faith with the allure of Hellenistic culture. Set in Roman Palestine, As a Driven Leaf draws readers into the dramatic era of Rabbinic Judaism. Watch the great Talmudic sages at work in the Sanhedrin, eavesdrop on their arguments about theology and Torah, and agonize with them as they contemplate rebellion against an oppressive Roman rule.