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Contemporary Jewish Life

  1. Apples & Honey Press: Jewish . . . with a Point

    It's not enough to teach our children HOW to be Jewish. Apples & Honey Press books also seek to show them WHY the values and the teachings of our tradition are important.
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  2. Clear Through the Parenting Clutter to Recapture a Sense of Wonder

    Clear Through the Parenting Clutter to Recapture a Sense of Wonder

    New parents get overwhelmed, regularly pushed to their limits and confused by contradictory feelings of elation and near-despair.

    A recent New York Times article shared parenting advice you really need. One parent contributed this gem: "You're allowed to feel overwhelmed and overjoyed. You can be both. Feeling it all doesn't make you a bad parent. It makes you human." 

    This is the premise behind the new book from Alicia Jo Rabins. Humorous, self-reflective, and comforting, Rabin’s musings on both heartening and cringe-worthy biblical examples of parenting can help any caregiver see beyond the detritus of day-today living with young children and recapture a sense of wonder at the process of raising small humans.

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  3. The Awakening Vibrancy of American Judaism

    The Awakening Vibrancy of American Judaism

    Is Judaism in North America dying?  Is religious life in general on the wane?

    Or is Judaism thriving, but simply doing so outside those legacy institutions that have so far resisted change?

    In their new book, Awakenings: American Jewish Transformations in Identity, Leadership, and Belonging, Rabbis Joshua Stanton and Benjamin Spratt invite debate about the future of Jewish communal life in North America, and claim that inspired, nimble religious organizations of all kinds are now retooling to meet the very different needs of today’s congregants.

    They show us new organizations now being created and argue that we are already witnessing the early stages of renewal i

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  4. Salt and Honey: Can You See God in a Grapefruit?

    Salt and Honey: Can You See God in a Grapefruit?

    Can You See God in a Grapefruit?

    by Aliza Abusch-Magder

    from Salt & Honey: Jewish Teens on Feminism, Creativity, and Tradition

     

    Thousands of juice packets. Sweet, tangy, sour. Packed so closely together in communities commonly called "pieces," and when you hand me a piece of your grapefruit, you hand me a little collection of individuals held together by a thin, opaque, fibrous skin.

    When I passed the grapefruit tree on the way to the bank, I effortlessly plucked the ripe, perfumed, leathered teardrop slowly falling from its tired branch.

    I casually held a world in my hand, a real-life Horton Hears a Who! 

    Don't you see God in Dr. Seuss? Wasn't it divine?

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  5. Celebrate and Explore Jewish Teen Voices

    Celebrate and Explore Jewish Teen Voices
    Celebrate the sprawling, complicated, glorious nature of being a teen today.
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  6. Social-Emotional Learning Embedded in Jewish Materials for Every Age

    Social and emotional learning is at the heart of Jewish education.

    According to educators Jeff Kress and Nancy Parkes in a recent article, there is substantial research evidence linking social and emotional competence and academic achievement.

    “Educators in Jewish settings are not only concerned with what our learners know, but also in the sort of people they become. A goal of Jewish education, regardless of where or how it takes place, is for learning to inform practice and shape how one lives that learning in the world,” they write.

    “Educators in every setting (day school teacher, bunk counselor, etc.) always shape the social and emotional growth of their learners (students, campers, etc.). SEL aims to do this in a more goal-directed, structured, and powerful way. In fact, many educators are already “doing” SEL as part of their everyday practice.” 

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  7. Celebrating 50 Years of Women in the Rabbinate

    Celebrating 50 Years of Women in the Rabbinate

    It was the 1970s. and doors were opening for women all across America. They could be doctors, lawyers, even pilots. But two thousand years of tradition said they couldn't be rabbis.  Until Sally.

    Sally Priesand wanted not just to learn Torah, but to teach it; not just to listen to a sermon, but give one; not just sit in the congregation, but lead it.

    In rabbinical school, people whispered, "She is only here to find a husband."

    "She will never finish."

    "No congregation will hire her."

    But Sally didn't listen. She finished her studies and became the first women rabbi in America. She opened the door for the many women who followed, and her story inspires us all to reach for our dreams.

    Sally Opened Doors - coming June 7

    By

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  8. Rabbi Steve Leder’s First Book, The Extraordinary Nature of Ordinary Things, Still Touches Hearts and Souls

    Moments of profound introspection can start with a simple story.

    With a new foreword by the publisher and a reflection by the now bestselling author looking back twenty years at his first book, The Extraordinary Nature of Ordinary Things is back to make us laugh and cry and notice the small things in our lives that are actually remarkable insights.  

    “Revisiting these essays is . . . a reminder of who I was, still am, and always will be, and also how I have grown. For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in the ways the most particular and smallest experiences reveal the most universal truths. Much like how identifying the tiniest of particles t

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  9. Behrman House’s Commitment to Diversity in Learning Materials Has Never Been Stronger

    We recently received a letter from “Concerned Citizen,” an anonymous 8th grader from Boston, who noticed that in the Hebrew series Z’Man L’Tefilah (Time for Prayer) “every single illustration in the book depicts white people,” and urged us to do better than to present “a singular image of Jews.”

    The student is right. This series, developed in the 1980s by the publishing company A.R.E., is illustrated with small line drawings that present what could be called an Ashkenazic world view, a view that North American Jews are exclusively descended from the Eastern European Jews who immigrated during the late 1800s and early 1900s as they fled pogroms and other atrocities.

    Behrman House took over distribution of this series in the early 2000s, and while we regularly review already published titles, as a small independent publisher we do not often have the budget to go back and

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  10. Salt and Honey: The Menu is Overwhelming

    Salt and Honey: The Menu is Overwhelming

    The Menu is Overwhelming

    by Emanuelle Sippy

    from Salt & Honey: Jewish Teens on Feminism, Creativity, and Tradition

     

    Sometimes age is as muddled as life's unanswerable questions.

     

    Arbitrary, in our cravings for adulthood and infancy. 

     

    Forget deciding--knowing alone is a task so cumbersome

    that control is not envied but rather exiled.

     

    When worry overpowers, I order life without

    obligation,

    nuance,

    and choice.

     

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