The month of Ellul is upon us, and the yamim nora’im (High Holy Days) are nigh. The time is ripe, according to our tradition, for introspection, repentance, and good deeds. Thankfully, our website has plenty of inspirational reading to prepare oneself for the coming weeks. I singled out, for our readers, a few pieces penned by Rabbi Jacobs:
- two encyclopedia entries, the first on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and the second on Repentance, which can serve as succinct introductions to the themes of the holidays;
- a guide to the Machzor, the prayer book used for the services on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur;
- a reflection on the expression shanah tovah, the equivalent of the English phrase ‘Happy New Year’;
- a dvar torah published in the Jewish Chronicle for parashat Ha’azinu, the penultimate one in the yearly cycle.
While browsing through the website, you may realize we’ve made a number of noteworthy changes to the layout. These were all put into place to help our readers navigate comfortably through the very large number of pieces available, especially when searching for a particular topic.
You will notice, for example, that the ‘Articles & Reviews’ menu has an additional entry, entitled ‘Sermons / Divrei Torah’. Up until this point, Rabbi Jacobs’s divrei Torah were listed as articles, alongside the huge number of scholarly pieces he wrote over the course of his lengthy career. These shorter pieces, relating to the parashah, were therefore difficult to spot. By creating a new entry designed specifically for that purpose, with separate entries for shabbat and chagim material, we hope additional readers will make optimal use of the website to enhance their religious experience – over a shabbat dinner for example! We only have 16 pieces there for the time being, but many more will make their way there over the course of the next few months!
We have also introduced a major change in the ‘Reviews of Louis Jacobs’s book’ entry in the same menu. The reviews now appear in a more orderly fashion, alongside the particular volumes they comment on. Ever wondered what Raphael Loewe thought of Rabbi Jacobs’s The Talmudic Argument? Or Marc B. Shapiro’s thoughts about The Jewish Religion: A Companion? Or perhaps Arthur Green’s impressions upon reading Jewish Mystical Testimonies? Look no further. It is all available on the website. The large majority of the reviews are highly positive, with always some minor, critical comments as well. They are helpful, scholarly pieces, which complement rather than contradict Rabbi Jacobs’s argument in each book. Again, you will notice that some books, such as Theology in the Responsa, do not yet have reviews available. We add material on the website nearly on a daily basis, so I can promise, we’ll have many more in due course!
That’s it for this week! Stay tuned for more information next month, including the recording of Sunday’s ‘Honest Theology’ session led by Elie Jesner on the topic of a Jewish sexual ethic!
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