Staff Picks-Rabbi Yossi Pollak

Yossi Staff picks2

Yossi Pollak is Koren’s director of sales for the Northeast US (and Atlanta) and has been with Koren for almost 6 years. Yossi is a former pulpit rabbi who served shuls in Westport, CT, the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and Washington, DC and was the first person hired to work full time for Koren outside of Israel. Originally from East Brunswick, NJ, Yossi currently resides in White Plains, NY with his wife and two amazing daughters (who are Koren’s biggest fans!). Yossi is also a passionate fan of the New York Yankees and live music.

The Ani Tefilla Siddur: Weekday Edition

siddur_dalet_ashkenaz_3d_for_website_1_2_1When I first started working at Koren, I saw a page of this commentary during the proofreading stage. I didn’t know anything about the Magerman Educational Series at the time, but I knew that this was something special, and it has become a real potential game-changer for tefilla. Knowing that this was something that was coming out from Koren was one of the things that convinced me to accept the job! Since then the Ani Tefilla siddurim  (comes in Shabbat, Summer Camp, and Weekday Editions) have absolutely transformed the way I daven. I love the reflective questions that appear on many of the pages which encourage me to think more deeply about what my prayers mean and how they can affect my life.

Jeremiah by Rav Binyamin Lau

Jeremiah final-2d-korenI owned this book in the original Hebrew but was happy to read it and gain even more understanding of what Rav Lau was writing. Jeremiah is the story of a passionate prophet who preaches God’s message to the Jewish people (and kings) despite the unpopularity of that message. His devotion to the truth is only matched by his deep love and care for the fate of the Jewish people. This was the book that first introduced me to Rav Lau who has become a rabbinic voice I look to for insight.

 

 

A City In Its Fullness by S.Y. Agnon

Agnon_a city in its fullness 3D hig hresAnother important series published by the Toby Press in recent years has been the annotated translation of the work of S.Y. Agnon. While I had read some stories in Hebrew in my younger years, these annotated editions help bring out both the major literary themes that Agnon was trying to convey as well as the little details that could easily be missed by a reader either in Hebrew or English. I’m particularly fond of the opening story in this collection, ‘The Sign”, which communicates the power of the story. The introductions in these books are helpful, particularly for those like me without a sophisticated literary background.

 

 

Holistic Prayer by Rabbi Avi Weiss

holistic prayer FINAL 3DI am a student of Rabbi Weiss and his deep spirituality has always been one of the things that drew me to him. As someone who is always striving to connect more deeply to tefilla, this book helped open new ways of understanding for me to approach it. I appreciate how Rabbi Weiss lays out the purpose of the different structures and sections of our services, and brings new insights to spirituality that I can use both personally and in teaching others about the potential for meaningful prayer.

 

 

 

Subversive Sequels in the Bible by Judy Klitsner

subversive-sequels-new-cover.pngWhile this title has featured in Maggid’s catalog for sometime, it was recently re-released in a new edition with an additional chapter on the matriarchs. For a book so rich with meaning and challenging ideas, the new chapter on the imahot is particularly exciting! Judy Klitsner has a rare gift for seeing connections between different biblical stories that enhance my understanding and show how those stories might be in conversation with one another. I love reading and rereading these essays (as well as learning in person from Judy!) and it inspires me when I’m reading other texts to search for those connections and think about what other “subversions” I might notice in reading different parts of Tanakh. It makes learning Tanakh into a fresh adventure!

 

False Facts and True Rumors by Rabbi Daniel Feldman

false factsRabbi Feldman is a Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS, but I also had the privilege of knowing him when he was younger; his father, Rabbi David Feldman zt’l was my grandparents’ rabbi in Teaneck for the last 15 years of their lives. In this book Rabbi Feldman applies the halakhot of Shemirat Halashon, proper speech and applied it to the very relevant situations from today’s world including what we read,write, and comment on social media.This book is vitally important for Jews who want to retain our commitment to ethical speech in an increasingly challenging environment

 

 

Halakhic Realities – Organ Donation

Halakic Realities_part2_3d high resI’ve long been committed to Jewish organ donation and breaking the stigmas and myths around it. This book lays out many of the important sources and debates, as well as providing some personal stories from Rabbis who have handled these cases — whether in their communities or hospitals — as well as people who had to respond when faced with the questions of donating the organs of family members. In particular, the article by Blu Greenberg about her son J.J. z’l is very powerful. Organ donation is something that I have been passionate about for many years and I think this book makes one of the strongest arguments for Halakhic organ donation. It is a a must read for all observant Jews and ethicists.

 

 

Tikon Tefilati by Rav Dov Singer

Matkoney Tfilla 2DSo, can you tell that I’m interested in tefilla ? Rav Singer, provides a book full of teachings and exercises, or more accurately, “recipes” by which a person can train themselves to be more open to having a meaningful tefilla experience.The teachings mostly come from Hasidic sources like Rabbi Nahman, but the exercises are very powerful. Imagine responding to a blessing or a statement about what God does not just with an “Amen” but with a “wow!” Rav Singer has helped me to see the wonder and potential of what our tefillot could be. Sometimes just doing something to break out of the “rut” of our usual davening experience can make a huge difference! I am very excited that this book is being translated into English and will hopefully be available soon for English speakers, so that more people can benefit from Rav Singer’s approach.

 

Up to 30% off Yossi Pollak’s list until August 19th

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