Says Who?

Abraham Socher

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.”

Is Love Stronger than Death?

Abraham Socher

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.”

Marmorshers!

Marmorshers!

Abraham Socher

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

It’s Spring Again

It’s Spring Again

Abraham Socher

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

Abraham Socher

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.

Live Wire

Abraham Socher

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.

Heschel Transcendent

Abraham Socher

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.

Hebrew School Days

Hebrew School Days

Abraham Socher

“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 . . .”

The Chabad Paradox

The Chabad Paradox

Abraham Socher

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.