The Koren Sacks Rosh Hashana Mahzor


After the Koren Sacks Siddur, Koren Publishers has now published the Koren Sacks Rosh Hashana Mahzor.

Rosh Hashana is one of the most important holidays of the Jewish year yet, because of its length, it is not always the meaningful and transformative experience it is supposed to be.

Like the siddur, this new Mahzor provides a spiritual guide to the different services through Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’s translation, introduction and commentary.

Those familiar with Rabbi Sacks’s weekly commentary on the parsha will recognize his powerful style and all will appreciate the introduction and the Chief Rabbi’s ability to provide insights that are most valuable to modern man or woman as they seek “to understand their place in the world and their places before God”.

The Mahzor shares a number of features with the Koren Sacks Siddur:

– The Hebrew on the left and the English translation on the right – I have already commented here that this is not a problem at all.

– An unambiguous and exhaustive table of contents that helps us navigate the prayer book.

– A very clear layout with more paragraphs than in most siddurim, distinguishing poetry from prose.

– References to Biblical passages in the margin next to the text and not in the footnotes.

– The commentary at the bottom of each page and the additional explanations at the end of the siddur.

In addition to the prayers and blessings to be said at home during the High Holidays, the Koren Sacks Rosh Hashana Mahzor provides the blessings for the Rosh Hashana seder, additional piyutim and a Halakh Guide.

The Koren Sacks Rosh Hashana Mahzor will certainly be a welcome addition to the Mahzorim already in use and should soon prove to be as valuable as the Koren Sacks Siddur for those looking for a Mahzor that provides the necessary understanding of the High Holidays.

I want to thank Koren Publishers for sending me a review copy of the Koren Sacks Rosh Hashana Mahzor.

The Search for God at Harvard


I ordered this book after reading Rabbi Fink’s review on his blog. A New York Times journalist, Ari L. Goldman took a sabbatical to study religion at Harvard Divinity School. Being a Jew in a mostly non-Jewish environment I thought that Goldman’s account as an Orthodox Jew living at Harvard and learning about world religions would resonate with my own struggles; and it did.

Ari L. Goldman had been working as a religion writer for some years before he asked for a sabbatical to broaden his knowledge. The Search for God at Harvard recounts this very special year but also provides the background which enables the reader to understand the reasons for this unusual quest: his religious education in various Jewish schools (including a Crown Heights yeshiva and Yeshiva University), his secular education in high school, his parents’ divorce when he was 6 and his first years at the New York Times.

I respect people who steadfastly stick to their views but I deeply admire those who confront different people and beliefs. Ari L. Goldman is such a person. He knows that some of his former rabbis and teachers would disapprove but he sticks to his decision and studies Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, African religions and Christianity, or even of a course on Judaism by Louis Jacobs.

The Search for God at Harvard is not so much what these religions are but rather what they mean to him and how they help him strengthen his own beliefs.

Thus Ari L. Goldman contrasts Judaism – where God choses his own people – and Hinduism where believers choose a personal god among a pantheon of several million deities. He sees Buddhism’s attraction for many Jews who are alienated from judaism as a religious alternative that is not Christianity. “As disillusioned as many of these Jews were with their own faith, they had been conditioned by their upbringing to seeing Christianity not merely as a substitute for but as a repudiation of Judaism”.

A course on the different Protestant denominations sheds an interesting light on Fundamentalism.

“The White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant America the Fundamentalists say they are trying to get back to never really existed. From the beginning, this country had American Indians, Jews and catholics, as well as Protestants. They had red skin and black skin and white skin. To be sure, not all these groups were treated equally. It was most often the whites who were subjugated the others; maybe this is the America to which the Fundamentalists want to return. But, for most Americans, the thought of returning to slavery, anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism or anti-American Indianism represents America gone awry and not “America Back to Our Roots. “”

They are poignant moments when Ari L. Goldman struggles between his desire to remain an observant Jew while aspiring to become a New York Times reporter. Surprisingly it is his mother – a religious Jew – who encourages him not to give up.

He also recalls painful episodes when choosing a community as a young couple not long after the Harvard experiece. His wife once tells guests at a Shabbat meal that she and her husband look forward to situations where not everyone around them is an Orthodox Jew because they consider them broadening and a challenge. Sadly they soon realize that they are not on the same wavelength as these people when they become the synagogue gossip.

The Search for God at Harvard is a book I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend.

Paintings with Red




Summer vacations are an opportunity to visit local museums for which I do not always have the time during the school year. About 10 days ago we were in Arras where we visited the Fine Art Museum. The paintings above are all from the Dutch-Flemish collection. Can you spot the red details and guess which painting I like best?

On Tuesdays, just post any photo you like (it must be one of your own) that contains the color RED and then link to this blog.


This lovely badge was created by Leora from Here in HP.

Pre-Vacation Weekly Review with Town Hall


On My Blog

Photo Meme:
Deauville in Cloudy June for Summer Stock Sunday

More Photos: Arras: the Squares

Recipe: Ricotta & Lemon Cake

Ultra/Far/Extreme-Right in My School

Summer Reading

Teikei the French Way

Online Data vs Online Presence

This Week’s Basket for Nature Notes

Elsewhere in the JBlogosphere

The Jewish Book Carnival: July Edition is hosted by Ann D. Koffsky

Mrs.S. writes about the oleh’s folly

Shabbat Shalom from Torah MiTzion translated by a friend

Mother in Israel asks: Is 64 Too Old to Make Aliyah?

Leora hosts a guest post by Dottie: Camping and Healthy eating

Miriam writes about The Golem at the Table

The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of Sabbath, an article by Senator Joseph Lieberman

Jewish Living: Securing Your Home in an Insecure World by Abraham J. Twerski

Shabbat Shalom!

Nature Notes: This Week’s Basket


I explained last week that I recently joined a csa. The distribution was yesterday instead of today because of Bastille Day which is a national holiday in France.

Each week, two members of the group arrive 30 minutes before the beginning of the distribution, set up the tables, crates and scales so that everything is ready when the other people get there.

Yesterday was my turn and I had printed a recipe which included 3 of the ingredients in this week’s basket. Apart from the health and economical benefits from such an arrangement, I appreciate how it makes me more aware of what is growing in our area.

This week’s basket:
– 1 kg of red potatoes
– 600 gr of carrots
– 1 beet
– 1 cucumber or one big zucchini
– 2 different sorts of lettuce
– 2 garlic heads
– 300 gr of French beans
– 6 eggs

For more Nature Notes:


Arras: the Squares




Arras is an attractive town in the North of France. The town’s two great squares are stunning providing a collection of 155 unique facades of Flemish baroque architecture. In 1492 Arras had become part of the Spanish Netherlands and this explains the style of the architecture.

In Northern Europe these large town squares were originally designed to accommodate large markets which in different periods contributed largely to the prosperity of those cities.

I had been in Arras before but never for a whole day. On Sunday we walked round the town which is probably the best way to discover the cobblestoned town center and visited the museum.

Online Data vs Online Presence


I believed that the numerous stories and articles about being cautious about the information one shares online had led young people to be more careful, it seems they are not.

I first noticed this a few weeks ago with my students when I created a FB profile for our language exchange. When I set up the profile I sent an email to all the students involved to let them know but also warned them that they could choose what information they could share with the profile (aka me). Only one made sure I could send her messages but not see what her friends were writing on her wall.

Yesterday I got a letter about our future English assistant. As the French administration had apparently not asked the would-be assistants to provide an email, I googled his name and here is what I got:

– his date of birth
– several photos
– the name of his high school
– the name of his college
– the description of his current university program
– the names of both his parents
– some personal articles about trips abroad
– his twitter alias
– some particulars about hobbies and interests
– one email address
– his FB profile (which revealed even more, including his girlfriend’s name and photo)

all within a few seconds.

Do you believe that this is too much or just fine? How would you feel if anyone could find as many details about your own child even if – as in GL’s case – none of it is incriminating?

Teikei the French Way


Teikei is a system of community-supported agriculture in Japan, where consumers purchase food directly from farmers. When these groups emerged in the 1960s there was a general climate of environmental issues and distrust of the quality of food in the conventional food system.

It is quite similar to community-supported agriculture In the western world. In France the name is AMAP and a local group was created a few weeks ago.

The farmer is a young lady who joined her parents’ farm a couple of years ago but has chosen to grow organic produce. To begin with there are 25 individuals or families in our group but it is expected to grow to 35 fairly rapidly.

Each of us has signed a contract with the farmer and we get a basket of organic fresh produce, complete with eggs, each week. Every Thursday we go to a house in my hometown where the produce are brought by the farmer and distributed by two group members.

The first distribution was today. Here is what we got:
– 1 kg of rosabelle potatoes – a variety of red potatoes
– 1 kg of Swiss chard
– 1 bunch of carrots
– 2 lettuces
– 1 bunch of parsley
– half a pound of red currants
– 6 eggs