James Striar School of General Jewish Studies

Rabbi Mordechai Becher

Rabbi Mordechai Becher, originally from Australia, an instructor at the James Striar School of Yeshiva University and a senior lecturer for the Gateways Organization. Rabbi Becher received his ordination from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. He taught at Ohr Somayach, Neve Yerushalayim and Darchei Binah in Jerusalem for 15 years, served in the Israel Defence Forces and taught in a number of Rabbinic training programs. His latest book, Gateway to Judaism, published by Shaar Press, is now in its sixth printing. Rabbi Becher has lectured for the UJA, Jewish Federations, the Zionist Organization of America, Hillel and is on the speakers’ bureau of the Israeli Consulate in New York. Rabbi Becher has answered thousands of questions on the Ask-the-Rabbi website, and has taught in Canada, the United States, England, Israel, South Africa, Australia and Russia. Sample Titles “An Eye For An Eye”: What Does it Really Mean? What If We Found Moshe’s Tefillin – Archaeology and Halachah Occupied or Liberated: Whose Land Is It Anyway? Jewish State or State for Jews? The Ideal of a Jewish State in Jewish Thought Cloning in Halachah “Triage” Rationing Resources, and Priorities in Medical Emergencies The Sabbath : Who Invented the Weekend Anyway? Exile of the Body, Exile of the Soul: The Exodus as a Metaphor. Freewill and Conditioning: A Delicate Balance. Jewish Law in a Non-Jewish Society Strings Attached: The Mitzvah of Tzitzit From Cairo to Cambridge: Jewish Treasures of Egypt (Cairo Genizah A/V) A Prophet for Our Time: The Life and Philosophy of Rabbi Samson Raphael...

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Rabbi Yosef Blau

Rabbi Yosef Blau has been mashgiach ruchani (spiritual guidance counselor) at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University since 1977. He also serves as spiritual guidance counselor for students at Yeshiva College. Rabbi Blau earned a BA in 1959 from Yeshiva College and an MS at Yeshiva’s Belfer Graduate School of Science in 1960. He was ordained at RIETS in 1961. Rabbis Blau is president of the Religious Zionists of America and served as national president of Yavneh, the National Religious Jewish Students’ Association. He is a former national vice president of the National Conference of Yeshiva Principals. An author of many articles on Jewish thought, Rabbi Blau became a member of the Orthodox Forum in 1989. He is a former member of the executive board of the Orthodox Caucus, was a delegate from the Religious Zionists of America to the World Zionist Congress and was elected a member of the Vaad Hapoel of the World Zionist Organization. Sample Titles Preserving the Jewish Character of Israel Challenges facing religious Zionism Halakhic Responses to scientific, economic, and social changes in society Women’s role in Orthodox Judaism The ethical dimension in Judaism Relating to non-Orthodox Jews Living in democratic America: An Orthodox Jewish perspective Moshe and Aharon: Balancing Truth and Peace Religion and Superstition A historical analysis of Orthodoxy in...

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Rabbi Benjamin Blech

Rabbi Benjamin Blech, a Maggid-shiur at Yeshiva University, is an internationally recognized educator, religious leader, author and lecturer. He has written 12 highly acclaimed and best-selling books, with combined sales of close to half a million copies, including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Judaism and Understanding Judaism: The Basics of Deed and Creed, which was chosen by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations as the single best book on Judaism in our generation. Together with an accompanying six-hour video, filmed by the producers of 20/20 and featuring Rabbi Blech, Understanding Judaism: The Basics of Deed and Creed is used in study groups in numerous synagogues and universities around the country. His book Taking Stock: A Spiritual Guide to Rising Above Life’s Financial Ups and Downs was featured in a full-page article in the New York Times and his If God is Good, Why Is The World So Bad? has been translated into Indonesian, where it has had a powerful reception in the wake of the country’s tsunami. Rabbi Blech’s most recent book is The Sistine Chapel: Michelangelo’s Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican. Coinciding with the 500th anniversary of Michelangelo’s starting work on the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, this groundbreaking book is already the subject of huge interest, discussion and controversy. Translated into 15 languages, available in 25 countries, a first printing of 100,000 copies by HarperOne, movie and TV rights presently in negotiation with three major film companies and with national TV coverage, this major work proves that Michelangelo incorporated many teachings of Jewish Midrash and Kabbalah into the Sistine Chapel. As a result of a personal meeting with the late Pope John Paul II, Rabbi Blech was instrumental in securing the loan of Jewish manuscripts for exhibition in Israel and he is involved in further negotiations for the return of precious Judaica held by the Vatican that may prove to be of historic significance. Rabbi Blech, a 10th generation rabbi, is rabbi emeritus...

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Rabbi Yona Reiss

Rabbi Yona Reiss, a noted Torah scholar, attorney and jurist, is the Av Beth Din of the Chicago Rabbinical Council and a Rosh Yeshiva at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University (RIETS). He previously served as the Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS. Rabbi Reiss is a summa cum laude graduate of Yeshiva College and went on to receive his law degree from Yale Law School, where he was a senior editor of the Law Journal. He received semikhah (rabbinic ordination) from RIETS, where he also earned the distinction of Yadin Yadin. Rabbi Reiss served as director of the Beth Din of America from 1998 to 2008. In his directorship of the Beth Din, Rabbi Reiss worked to resolve cases of agunot and popularized the use of the Rabbinical Council of America pre-nuptial agreement as a protection against future agunah problems. From 1992 to 1998, Rabbi Reiss was an associate at the international law firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in Manhattan. He is a member of the New York State Bar Association, a certified mediator for the City of New York court system and a member of the Family and Divorce Mediation Council for New York. Rabbi Reiss serves on the editorial board of Tradition magazine. A frequent writer on a variety of topics relating to both Jewish and secular law, he has published widely in Jewish publications, as well as in the Wall Street Journal and New York Law Journal. Sample Titles Should a Good Jewish Boy/Girl be a Lawyer? Jew vs. Jew in Secular Courts Teshuva as Liberation: The Joy of Being Only Human The Power and Limitations of Jewish Justice Litigating Outside of Beis Din The Yamim Noraim: A Wake Up Call for Teshuva Contemporary Aspects of the...

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Rabbi Michael Taubes

Rabbi Michael Taubes is Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS, and has served as Head of School at the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy – Yeshiva University High School for Boys, as well as a past member of the rabbinic faculty of Yeshiva College. He is also the spiritual leader of Congregation Zichron Mordechai in Teaneck, New Jersey, delivering regular Shiurim and lectures both there and at the Beis Medrash of Bergen County, housed in Teaneck’s Congregation Bnai Yeshurun. His classes are well known for their breadth of sources and clarity of presentation. Rabbi Taubes has been involved in formal and informal Jewish education for more than thirty years, serving both in the classroom and in various administrative posts. An alumnus of Yeshivat Har Etzion (“Gush”) in Israel where he was a student of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, zt’l, Rabbi Taubes attended Yeshiva College and was honored upon graduation in 1980 with an award for excellence in Talmud. He subsequently studied in the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary for several years in the Shiur of the revered Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt’l, and from where he received his ordination. He also earned a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education from Yeshiva University’s Ferkauf Graduate School and then spent several years learning in Yeshiva’s Marcos and Adinah Katz Kollel, headed by Rabbi Hershel Schachter, shlita, with whom he continues to maintain a close relationship. Recognizing the need to spread Torah to people outside the sphere of influence of the yeshiva classroom and the Beis Medrash, Rabbi Taubes helped found The Jewish Learning Experience of Bergen County, a flourishing adult outreach institution, which he directed for many years and with which he remains affiliated. Rabbi Taubes is the author of The Practical Torah, a collection of articles on topics in Halachah based on the weekly Parshah, as well as numerous essays on an array of Torah subjects appearing in many Jewish publications. He also worked for ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications as a writer and editor for the English translation...

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