A guide to High Holiday reading

Holiday Repentence image

Due to the popularity of e-books, major Chicago bookstore chains have swung many of their doors shut. Local shops, like Rosenblum's World of Judaica in Evanston, have yet to turn off their lights, but still feel the impact of the growing digital library. 

"It's extremely disturbing," said Rosenblum's owner Avi Fox. "People need to be sensitive to the fact that if they don't go to the Jewish bookstores that provide extraordinarily important services in the community, when they want to go buy a Jewish book at a local Jewish bookstore, there won't be any to go to." 

Fox explained that when it comes to the High Holidays, not only are actual prayer books in high demand, but also supplementary reads to "inspire and give insight into the themes of the holidays."

And browsing through the shelves, according to Fox, is just as valuable as indulging in a book itself. "You can't have a real book-buying experience by going online," he said.

So, in the spirit of bringing back the traditional paperback book to be passed down from generation to generation, l'dor v'dor, here's a guide of reads to enliven your High Holidays- whether you're sitting in a service or your living room.


Rosh Hashanah Readings: Inspiration, Information, and Contemplation and Yom Kippur Readings: Inspiration,
Information, and Contemplation

Dov Peretz Elkins, Ed. (Jewish Lights)

To add spiritual depth and meaning to both the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement, this commentary fosters a personal understanding of what makes the High Holidays so holy. The collection of writings and prayers drawing from a variety of sources- ancient, medieval, Jewish, even non-Jewish-allows readers to experience the spirit of the holidays on an intimate level.


God In Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Heschel discusses not man's search for God, but rather God's search for man, questioning the idea of a Chosen People and the very nature of Biblical thought- and how ideas transform into beliefs. 


All These Vows: Kol Nidre

Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman (Jewish Lights)

This book examines the essence of Kol Nidre by tracing the prayer's history, detailing various attempts to revise it-and even erase it altogether! A diverse group of scholars, poets, and artists contribute to this exploration of why Kol Nidre remains a highlight for worshipers in the High Holiday season.    


All The World: Universalism, Particularism, and the High Holy Days (Prayers of Awe)

Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ed. (Jewish Lights)

Assembling the insights of over 40 scholars, rabbis, and artists from all over the globe, All The World sparks a dialogue on what the High Holidays reveal about the principles of universality and particularity in Judaism and Jewish stories. 


Repentance: The Meaning and Practice of Teshuvah 

Louis E. Newman (Jewish Lights)

By examining Judaism's core teaching of repentance, this book investigates the meaning of teshuvah from both its practical and philosophical sides. 


Change & Renewal: The Essence of the Jewish Holidays & Days of Remembrance 

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz (Maggid)

Take a deeper look into the essence of the Jewish calendar to find entirely new meanings of the Jewish holidays, with a highlight on the significance of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.


Gates of Repentance:
The New Union Prayerbook for the Days of Awe

Chaim Stern, Ed. (Central Conference of American Rabbis)

This unique machzor of the Reform Movement is filled with readings, meditations, and songs for the High Holidays using modern, gender-inclusive language. 


Worship of the Heart: Essays on Jewish Prayer

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (KTAV Publishing House, Inc.)

This rich collection of Rabbi Soloveitchik's commentaries on prayers such as the Amidah, the Shema and other biblical texts analyzes the Jewish tradition of prayer and its development from halacha (Jewish law) to modern Jewish practice.   n


To discover more Jewish titles, visit Rosenblum's World of Judaica (www.alljudaica.com), Hamakor Galley (www.jewishsource.com), or the Spertus Shop (http://shop.spertus.edu).

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