This email actually marks the completion of my first year working for the Friends of Louis Jacobs! With that in mind, I have to make sure the content matches my own level of excitement…
By all means, it does. Some of you might recall an announcement I made during in my High Holy Days post about audio tape recordings of 25 lectures Rabbi Jacobs gave at Leo Baeck College between 1983 and 2002, which we had recently received. Well, we’ve worked hard in the past two months to upload and edit them, and they are now available for public access – see here! I have listened to nearly every single one of them, and would say that these are among the most exceptional features of our website. Rabbi Jacobs’s lecturing style comes out vividly. They illustrate his wide range of interests and his tremendous erudition, as well as his passion and wit. The subjects covered include the Mussar movement, Hasidism, theology, passages in the Torah portion, or talmudic sugyot. Enough to satisfy everyone’s interests!
I’ve mentioned quite a few times over the past months that we’ve added hundreds of book reviews to the website, a few of which I’ve offered links to in my previous blog posts. There is, however, one sort of review which I haven’t yet mentioned… the bad one! What did it look like when Rabbi Jacobs gave a negative review of a book? You’ll find two such examples here and here! In short, his criticisms remained stern and succinct. All the more so in these two essays, since they relate to theology and halakhah, a subject so dear to his heart. He refrained from harsh words against the authors, and developed at length on the specific problems he took issue with. Hence both pieces actually prove quite instructive in their own right!
Hanukkah, one of the most delightful Jewish holidays, will soon be upon us. A good opportunity for a few relevant sources, selected from the wealth of material on our website: an encyclopedia entry written by Louis Jacobs on the holiday itself; a dvar torah (published in 1957) on the relation between Hanukkah and faith in God; and two other, timely divrei torah, for the portions of Vayeshev and Vayehi. Some food for thought!
Elie Jesner also delivered, last month, the final of his Honest Theology Project lectures, on Religious Education. A passionate lecture by all means, which you can now watch again online! And if you want to catch up with any of the previous sessions, they’re all available here. We look forward to the book, Elie!
Many of us are now gearing up for Limmud. The Louis Jacobs Foundation has decided to take a break this year, and will therefore not be hosting or sponsoring any special sessions, but we do encourage you to attend some of Elie’s lectures (all on Tuesday). Unless you’re in a lighter mood, in which case Ivor will be doing a musical session (on Wednesday)! Finally, I’m chairing a particularly promising panel discussion (also on Tuesday) on French Jewry, alongside the Chief Rabbi of Luxemburg and the President of the French Union of Jewish Students. Please feel free to come along!
A happy Hanukkah and very best wishes to all our friends,
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