Volume 8 Number 85
                       Produced: Fri Aug 20 12:36:26 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Abortion -- Just One Life
         [Benjamin Svetitsky]
Jewish Fiction (5)
         [Martha Greenberg, Janice Gelb, David Charlap, Yapha Schochet,
Norman Miller]
Kosher Mezuzah and Disaster
         [Allen Elias]
         [Jonathan B. Horen]


From: Benjamin Svetitsky <FNBENJ@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 93 04:08:01 -0400
Subject: Abortion -- Just One Life

As long as people are discussion abortion, I'd like to give publicity to
an organization named Just One Life (Nefesh Achat be-Yisrael), an
offspring of the National Council of Young Israel operating in Israel.
 From their letter:

Just One Life "is a non-political, voluntary, private social service
agency offering help to Jewish women in Israel contemplating abortion.
Our professional counsellors assist such women by outlining other
options available, and by helping to mitigate any immediate social,
economic, or emotional stress, thus affording each woman an opportunity
for a free and informed choice in a highly personal decision.
Counselling, volunteer aid, and financial assistance have been made
available to over 700 women in Israel through our efforts.

"There is much more to be done to significantly reduce Israel's high
abortion rate...

"We welcome your financial contribution to our work, in any amount."

The letter is signed by the director, Rabbi Macy Gordon. On the
letterhead are Rabbi Solomon Sharfman, chairman; Madelaine Gitelman,
counselling coordinator; and Menachem Bar-Shalom, international director
of development.  I saw their presentation and was impressed at the scale
of the effort and apparent success in preventing abortions through
counseling and through offering financial aid to struggling families.
For more information, write to Just One Life, 37 King George Street -
Suite 44, Jerusalem 94261 or to P.O.B. 2457, Jerusalem 91024.
Telephone: (02) 254 973/983, FAX (02) 254 994.

Contributions, tax-deductible in the US and in Israel, may be sent to
the same address.

B. Svetitsky       <fnbenj@...>


From: <marthag@...> (Martha Greenberg)
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 93 15:20:17 -0400
Subject: Jewish Fiction

Two very good works of Jewish fiction that I've read are "Jepte's
Daughter" and "Sotah", both by Naomi Ragen.  One warning though, the
books are very critical of certain parts of the Orthodox Community.

Martha Greenberg

From: <Janice.Gelb@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 93 09:37:06 PDT
Subject: Re: Jewish Fiction

I can't agree with David in recommending Diasporah, but For better
Jewish science fiction, I strongly recommend Wandering Stars, and More
Wandering Stars, both edited by Jack Dann. They are unfortunately out of
print but can sometimes be found in used bookstores. Also, stuff by
William Tenn and Avram Davidson often has Jewish themes and characters.
The book "A Canticle for Lebowitz" by Walter Miller also has strong
Jewish characters.

Janice Gelb                  | (415) 336-7075     
<janiceg@...>   | "A silly message but mine own" (not Sun's!) 

From: <dic5340@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 93 14:21:05 -0400
Subject: Jewish Fiction

<litwin@...> (Todd Litwin) writes:
>Probably the best book that I've read in this category is Milton
>Steinberg's "As a Driven Leaf." It takes a fictional look at Elisha ben
>Abuya, who is mentioned a few times in the Talmud, was a contemporary of
>Rabbi Akiva, and is thought to have become an apostate from Judaism.
>Steinberg, by his own admission, takes plenty of liberties with our
>understanding of Elisha, but manages to build a compelling story. I
>highly recommend it.

I will agree with this, except for a technicality:  I don't consider
this to be truly a work of fiction.  Most of the story comes from
Talmudic sources, with dramatization and character development added
to make the book readable.  In my opinion, I don't consider this book
to be truly a work of fiction.

From: Yapha Schochet <YAPHA@...>
Date: Thu,  19 Aug 93 10:00 +0300
Subject: Jewish Fiction

I recommend Jephte's Daughter by Naomi Ragen. This is an interesting and
readable novel, written by someone who obviously has first hand
knowledge of Orthodox Judaism and the Haredi world. Although certain
elements in the Haredi community are portayed as narrow minded and
limiting to the point where Batsheva, the main character, is forced to
run away from the community, she never abandons her faith or her
observance. Also it is clear that the Orthodox world is much broader
than this particular narrow minded element. I saw the book as affirming
of Judaism and Halakha.

For people who like mysteries, don't forget the Rabbi Daniel Winter
mysteries by Joseph Telushkin: The Unorthodox Murder of Rabbi Wohl, The
Final Analysis of Dr. Stark, and An Eye for an Eye. As you may remember
Telushkin co- authored The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism. His
mysteries all have a special theme; lashon hara is the theme of The
Final Analysis, for example, and they're full of Jewish content.

Yapha Schochet

From: Norman Miller <nmiller@...>
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 93 18:03:47 -0400
Subject: Re:  Jewish Fiction

[This posting is an edited version of some back and forth email between
Norman and myself. Mod.]

The recent posts about "Jewish fiction", by which is presumably meant
something that's knowledgeable about Judaism and presents it in a
favorable light, tell a sad story.  For, given the enormous number of
talented Jewish writers in the U.S., Europe and Israel, why is there so
little serious Jewish fiction. Does this suggest that religion and
serious literature don't mix?

There is at least one important exception among Jews: Chaim Grade. 
Though he broke with conventional Orthodoxy, every word he wrote dealt
not simply with the surface realities of Jewish life in Vilna but with
precisely those questions about faith and God that make him a genuinely
Jewish writer.

Another candidate is Bernard Malamud, who explored the religious
dimension of being Jewish in his own zany but very serious way.  Maybe
Cynthia Ozick, one of the smartest people writing.  

And of course, S.Y.Agnon.

But it's slim pickings.  A more interesting question might be why
this is so. A discussion of the literary aspects of Judaism is a topic that
I would very much like to see.

Norman Miller


From: Allen Elias <100274.346@...>
Date: 19 Aug 93 12:08:45 EDT
Subject: Kosher Mezuzah and Disaster

>From: <M.Isaacs@...> (Malcolm Isaacs)

>I recall an incident a few years ago, in which a school in
>Israel (Haifa?) lost a number of children in what I think was a
>terrorist attack.  The mezuzah of that classroom was checked (at
>the instigation of the Lubavitcher Rebbe?) and found to be
>passul.  Does anyone have the details of this incident?

I don't remember when but it was a school bus from Petach Tikvah.
It was hit by the Haifa-Tel Aviv train at an unofficial crossing.
22 children were killed. It was not the Lubavitcher Rebbe who called
for examining the mezuzas but someone from Bnei Brak.

This railroad crossing is known to be dangerous but nothing was done
to either fence it off or put in lights. Three of my wife's friends
were killed at the same crossing about 20 years ago.


From: Jonathan B. Horen <horen@...>
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 93 12:13:15 -0400
Subject: Mechitzot

> Anyway, on to mechitza design. I've seen lots of styles. An
> assortment, listed in increasing order of the isolation imposed on the
> women's section:

It took me a few moments to understand what Susan meant here -- if I
understand correctly, the "isolation imposed on the women's section"
can either be with regard to the bima and/or shaliach-tzibur, or with
regard to the men.

The first case seems to mandate an `ezrat nashim' (women's section)
located in the rear of the shul, and the men in the front; whereas the
second case could be (as it was in our shul in Sunnyvale, CA -- the Bar
Yochai Sephardic Minyan) with the women's section on one side of the
shul, and the men on the other side.

Our setup was the result of dissatisfaction among the congregants with
the "fore-and-aft" seating arrangement, and the "side-by-side" shita
proved to be effective *and* lowered the "signal-to-noise" ratio during

There were those (myself, included) who would have preferred a higher
and sturdier mechitza (ours was cloth, and only about 3-feet high).

> What are the various interpretations that lead one synagogue to choose
> to put up an eight foot high mechitza and another a three foot high
> one? Is the eight foot high one just a stringency? Is the three foot
> high one invalid?

I leave the halachic aspects of mechitzot to competent poskim, as well
as to those s.c.j.netters who are knowledgeable in this area.  What I
am certain of, however, is that men, regardless of their marital
status, look at women. Period.  We look at them on the street, in the
subway or on the bus, in the workplace, at the `mall', and most
definately in shul on Shabbat/Yom Tov, when they are especially

I am reminded, in instances such as this one, of the verse in Lecha
Dodi which ends "...Sof ma'ase, b'makhshovo t'khilo" (that which ended
in action, began with a thought) -- and would like to paraphrase it
"Sof makhshovo, b'r'iah t'khilo" (that which ended in thought, began
with a look).

It is for this reason that many of us like high, sturdy, and
*soundproof* mechitzot.

Jonathan B. Horen


End of Volume 8 Issue 85