Page 178 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
ical review, rather than a source o f guidance for decision making
in concrete situations.
Irving J. Rosenbaum explores the theme o f the Holocaust in
The Holocaust and Halakhah
(New York, Ktav, 1976), which is
based on responsa materials written in ghettos, labor camps and
death camps in the tragic years 1933-1945. Alas, not one country
but all o f Europe is the geographic background for reported
events. The subjects covered deal with every aspect o f the super­
human struggle for survival on the part o f the Jewish people.
Though not a book o f history in the technical sense o f the word,
the volume depicts the gradually growing destructive fury o f the
Nazi persecutors matched against the weakening stamina o f their
victims. Yet, theJewish will to survive prevailed under any and all
circumstances, a will fueled by the imperishable flame o f faith in
the God o f Israel and devotion to His law. This work describes
the faith and honors the will.
Walter Jacobs, editor o f
American Reform Responsa
(New York,
Central Conference o f American Rabbis, 1983), re-examined all
the responsa materials written since 1889 through 1983 under
the auspices o f Reform Judaism. The work includes, in addition
to an excellently organized index, a total o f 172 statements o f
guidance and advice to Reform communities in America and
Canada on a variety o f topics, e.g. bio-medical ethics, sexual
ethics, Jewish status, observance o f Holy Days and life-cycle occa­
sions. Like any selection o f responsa in the past, this book repre­
sents a valuable source o f information on the current thinking
and practices among Jews identifying with Reform.
Bernard J. Maislin has chronicled in
Jewish Law in American T ri­
bunals
(New York, Ktav, 1976) the numerous instances when
Jewish law was cited, substantively or procedurally, in court
actions, notwithstanding the concept o f separation between
church and state. The book is written in clear, non-technical, lan­
guage stimulating reflections on the complex issue o f church-
state relations. The discerning reader may observe that civil
courts are perhaps the only public forums in America where the
non-ritualistic parts o f the Jewish code o f laws are seen to exert a
measure o f influence upon judicial matters. T o be sure, Jewish
law, as recorded in Hoshen Mishpat, is applied whenever two
Jews voluntarily appear for a “Din Torah,” that is, adjudication
by a rabbinic court according to the rules o f Torah. But such liti­
gation is at best in the nature o f a personal agreement between