Abraham Socher

Says Who?

Peter Berger listened to me patiently, and then he said, “You can come to see me, but”—and here he spoke with heavy emphasis—“it sounds like you have read my books . . . and I haven’t thought of anything new.”

Always Messy: A Rejoinder to Andrew N. Koss

It may be useful as a tool for moral self-improvement to see oneself as adjudicating between opposing forces within one’s breast or brain, though where precisely the adjudicator, or charioteer, resides is more than a moot point.

The Modern Crisis of Moral Thought: An Exchange

Abraham Socher's pre-Yom Kippur assessment of the possibility of true repentance led to a discussion on the mussarist's answer (or non-answer) on moral choices.

Is Repentance Possible?

And should we add a confession on Yom Kippur “for the sin of opening browser windows of distraction”? On Aristotle’s akrasia and Maimonides’s teshuvah.

Is Love Stronger than Death?

Near the outset of his book about mortality, Hillel Halkin has fallen into a grave, gazed at the remnants of a skull, succinctly described ancient Israelite burial practices, and vividly illustrated the ritual and material basis for that resonant biblical phrase in which the dead are “gathered to their ancestors.”

What They Talk About When They Talk About Golems

On golems and global conspiracy theories.


I left the conversation with the entirely erroneous, in fact libelous, impression that “Marmorsher” was Yiddish slang for horse thief.

It’s Spring Again

A startling painting on the walls of the ancient synagogue at Dura Europos depicts some 2nd-century Jews who have, until recently, been dead and who look very surprised to have been reconstituted and revived.

A Party in Boisk

The bodily joy a group of Boiskers took in fulfilling the commandment to study Torah is still surprising, and that may have something to do with the Torah they chose to study.

High Fives

The JRB editors celebrate our fifth anniversary with our top-five book lists.

Live Wire

Bellow’s not so innocent knock in The Adventures of Augie March is generally taken as the moment when Jews barged into American literature without apology.

How the Baby Got Its Philtrum

The idea of learning as a recovery of what we once possessed is what makes Bogart’s bubbe mayse, and ours, so memorable: We can all touch that little hollow and feel the impress of forgotten knowledge.

A Conversation with Leon Wieseltier

Abraham Socher and Leon Wieseltier talk about the responsibilities of Jewish intellectuals, standing on the shoulders of (and tearing down) giants, and crying cookies.

Accounting for the Soul

Mussar Yoga makes for a surprising deli combo platter of the spirit, even in our easy-going mix-and-match America.

The Digression

A doctor walks into the examination room and tells his patient that the drugs aren’t working and there isn’t anything else to try . . .

Heschel Transcendent

Abraham Joshua Heschel’s intellectual peers included Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Reinhold Niebuhr, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe. His main thought, Shai Held argues, was of transcendence.

Salsa and Sociology

When I was a child, eight or nine, I evolved a theory about different kinds of Jews, based, more or less, on the hot sauce we kept on our table.

Hebrew School Days

“Of course, I had myself gone to Hebrew school—that’s what we always called it though very little Hebrew was ever learned—through most of elementary school. I’d walk the five blocks down Bancroft . . .”

Light Reading

Stoicism and the human heart.

Something Antigonus Said

When the Saducees misinterpreted Antigonus of Sokho, they lost eternity--at least that's what the Rabbis thought.


Harry Wolfson, Reinhold Niebuhr, and chutzpah.

The Chabad Paradox

Despite its tiny numbers, the Hasidic group known as Chabad or Lubavitch has transformed the Jewish world. Not only the most successful contemporary Hasidic sect, it might be the most successful Jewish religious movement of the second half of the twentieth century. But two new books raise provocative questions about it.

Welcome to the Jewish Review of Books

Welcome to the first issue of the Jewish Review of Books.

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