RABBIS: The Many Faces of Judaism

Michael Kress, Editor, George Kalinsky, Photographer, Kirk Douglas, Foreword by . Universe $39.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-7893-0804-7

This biographical coffee-table book features 100 portraits of various rabbis from all persuasions of Judaism and all corners of the world. There are the usual suspects, such as Harold Kushner (When Bad Things Happen to Good People) and Shmuley Boteach (Kosher Sex), though there are also dozens of lesser-known rabbis, both male and female. The book's international flavor does it credit: we learn about the chief rabbis of Russia and Ethiopia, read of the first Israeli-born woman rabbi to be ordained in Israel, and meet the director of Chabad in Rome, Italy (who is pictured talking on a cell phone and sitting on a red motorcycle). Indeed, the photographs do much to illuminate the characters and specific occupations of the rabbis profiled here. Lynn Gottlieb, one of the first female rabbis in the United States and a leader of the Jewish Renewal movement, is shown with long hippie hair and dangling star earrings, wearing a peasant skirt and chanting while she beats a drum in the desert. Jacob Goldstein, a chief chaplain in the U.S. National Guard, is depicted in full combat fatigues in the wreckage of Ground Zero. Apart from the arresting images, the book's greatest strength is that the rabbis tell their stories in their own words. These personal essays, edited by PW freelancer Michael Kress, help the reader understand their sacred mission more than any third person biography ever could. There is, unfortunately, no index or table of contents, though the rabbis are helpfully profiled in alphabetical order. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/28/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
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