Archive for the 'Maimonides' Category


About Tomorrow’s Radio Show…

After a far too long hiatus (due to the final disease and subsequent ptirah of my uncle – Henry Moss, alav haShalom), we are back with a radio show special on motzey Shabbat at 11:30 pm (Eastern Time). We prerecorded it on Wednesday, at Sotheby’s, at the press intro to the exhibit of the Michael and Judy Steinhardt Judaica Collection.

The collection's catalog...

The collection’s catalog…

Detail of a very ornate Shabbat oil lamp, from the 18th Frankfurt Ghetto

Detail of a very ornate Shabbat oil lamp, from the 18th century Frankfurt am/Main ghetto.

We spoke with Jennifer Roth, Sotheby’s Senior Vice President and Department Head of the Judaica Department, John D. Ward, Vice President and Department Head of the Silver Department, Sharon Liberman Mintz and David Wachtel, Senior Judaica Consultants. The exhibit covers a millennium and a half of Jewish Ceremonial Art, from aquamanile to matza tools, from German Shabbat oil lamps to a British decorative silver plate given by the Jewish community to the Lord Mayor of London, to an illuminated medieval edition of MaimonidesMishnah Torah and hundreds more. Each item is unique, some are very rare, all show the extent to which the Jews appreciated art and integrated the artistic fashion of the time into their every day ceremonial needs.

The conversations with the four experts listed above were fascinating, as they opened up a new way to look at our history, at our values, and how the Jews truly fared in the European societies of old. Please listen to this fascinating show at at 11:30 pm (Eastern Time) motzei Shabbat.

Meanwhile, in case you missed, please listen to the archive of our last show with Paula Shoyer.

Don’t forget to listen in tomorrow evening at 11:30 pm (Eastern Time), we’ll be wait’n for ya.



A Journey Into History, Rare Judaica Auction – Part 2

Last Wednesday, I found my way to the Rare Judaica Auction at Kestenbaum and Company. The place quickly filled up with eager buyers and observers, I found it fascinating! Among the many items auctioned off there were printed sforim, letters, manuscripts, ceremonial art and more.

The first set of printed machzorim in the US (1837-1838)- Isaac Leeser‘s six volume edition of Siddur Siphtei Tzaddikim sold for$30,000.00.

The catalog describes it:

Siddur Sipfthei Tzaddikim, Isaac Leeser’s comprehensive prayer book, was the first American edition containing the liturgy for the entire year. It contains the original Hebrew text and an original English translation. Leeser marketed his prayer book to audiences both in America and the British colonies in the Caribbean and thus included “A prayer for a Royal Government” and “A prayer for a Republican Government”

Another interesting item that attracted attention was a broadside commemorating the 4th of July:

It commanded $20,000.00; it was printed in 1876 and is the only known copy.

“Dedicated to the People of America on the Centennial of their Liberty, July 4th 1876. On behalf of the People of Israel by Moses A. Schreiber of the 44th Street Synagogue, City of New York.”

A highly original production by Moses Aron Schreiber, Rabbi of Cong. Sha’arei Tephillah, New York. This lengthy ode celebrating the Centennial of American Independence is evenly divided in Hebrew and English and ingeniously rhymes in both languages, while being an exact translation of each other. Following an Introduction, it is set into seven sections entitled: “Taxation; Declaration; Constitution; Immigration; Arts & Sciences; Exhibition and Judah’s Offering”

Written with immense patriotic fervor informed by a passionate religious belief, clearly Rabbi Moses Schreiber’s sense of being a patriotic American is certainly not less than his pride in being an Orthodox Jew.

Another interesting item, that sold for $11,000.00 was:

The first printed edition of the Bible, published in 1515 in Hebrew and Latin by Daniel Bomberg, translated by the apostate Felix Pratensis, sold for $11,000.00. While Bomberg’s intention was to publish the whole of the Old Testament only this book appeared. By 1516-17 Daniel Bomberg realized that he could never sell this to the Jewish market, he therefore printed the first Mikroth Gedoloth TaNa”CH (Biblia Rabbinica), which was auctioned off at $47,500.00.

A fragment of a lost manuscript of Maimonides Commentary on the Mishna

It went for $23,000.00. Written less than 20 years after Maimonides passing, by Saadia al-Addani in 1222 in Judeo-Arabic, it is the oldest known Hebrew codex copied in Yemen.

The Szyk Haggadah commanded $25,000.00, the last Lubavitcher Rebbe‘s letter (written when he was only 23, long before he took over his father-in-law’s position as the revered head of the movement) to the Rogatchover Gaon sold for $30,000.00.

Many items representing our religious/literary endeavors through out the ages, and from many countries were featured in this auction. Many of these revolutionized Jewish thought, many became intrinsic texts elucidating various aspects of Jewish Law, tradition, kabbalah and more… The great, the controversial, the unknown and the unknown were well represented here.

In Part 3, the final installment of this series, we will cover Ceremonial and Fine Art items.



A Journey Into History, Rare Judaica Auction – Part 1


Healing with Kindness – An Evening with Women of Valor

The RaMBa”M (Maimonides) said; Ma’aseh avot siman lebanim…the actions of our forefathers are symbols/models for their descendants to follow.  Such is certainly the case for the women who make up Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Bikur Cholim of Crown Heights.

The honoree, Mrs. Ita Lustig (Photo, courtesy of: Percia)

Baila Olidort, editor of Wellsprings Magazine &, did a superb job hosting the evening and sharing her personal account of how helped her mother during her illness. The matriarchs of the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Bikur Cholim had labored with Herculean effort –short staffed, under-funded, and as low-tech as imaginable.  Women like Mrs. Ita Lustig –the Honoree, Tzippora Clapman and a host of others got the job done through persistence, a love of chesed, wearing out their shoe-leather, speed dialing the old fashioned way; catching neighbors at simchas, by chance or design to get the necessary funding and aid required for the community’s Bikur Cholim.

What was heartening to see was the enthusiasm, arduous commitment, talent, and passionate fresh young talent of the new generation that took up the torch of chesed – infusing new blood and koiches into attending the growing needs of their community. When the Olidorts called, they mobilized; creating rides, services, and revitalizing the organization to meet the needs of not only this family but the community at large.  Kol Hakavod to Bikur Cholim’s administrators: Grunie Grossman, Ruthie Kirschenbaum, Esther Blau and to the staff of the Services department: Esther Lebovic, Naomi Pinson, Esther Blum, Rivkah Krinsky, Chanah Pinson., for all their hard work on behalf of Bikur Cholim and in making the Summer Fete Evening the great success it was.

Kudos to Marcia Bodenstein, CEO of Start Fresh Weight Control Program for her “SNAP” summary of what it takes to live a healthy lifestyle.

Chef Levana Kirscenbaum (Photo, courtesy of: Percia)

Levana Kirschenbaum, renowned chef, author and cooking instructor demonstrated her quick-easy-wholesome whole food philosophy & techniques, preparing a sampling of the fabulous dinner later served to all the guests in attendance: miso soup, salad, maple roasted salmon with spanish couscous, and chocolate espresso mousse along with her award-winning carrot cake.  She makes it looks soooooo easy as she efficiently tosses the fresh ingredients into her food processor and bowls.  The woman is a culinary master magician. Chick chock it was all done and healthy, delicious and fabulous.  Judging from the way the food disappeared, the guests were more than delighted with the outcome.

Everything tasted spectacular; it’s hard to pick a favorite.  I’d just serve up the whole menu if I were preparing for a large group.  I’ve included, with permission, Levana’s  Maple-Roasted Salmon.  Enjoy!  Enjoy!

As several women said during the course of the evening, in the future may we only need Bikur Cholim services to attend to kimpeturen (women of childbirth).  May all our readers and Klal Yisroel be healthy & happy, giving generously of their time and efforts for those less fortunate.

Maple Roasted Salmon (Photo, courtesy of Miriam Slater)

Maple Roasted Salmon


1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon cracked pepper, or less to taste
1 whole side salmon, about 3 1/2 pounds, skin off, bones out.


Mix all but the last ingredient in a bowl. Place the salmon skin side up in a baking pan just large enough to fit it snuggly in one layer. Pour the sauce evenly over the fish. Bake 18 minutes to 20 minutes. Transfer to a platter and pour the cooking juices over. Serve hot, or at room temperature.



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