A Mod­ern Ortho­dox Life: Ser­mons and Columns

Emanuel Rack­man
  • Review
By – January 9, 2012
Rab­bi Emanuel Rack­man, who recent­ly passed away in his late nineties, was one of the most accom­plished Ortho­dox rab­bis of the 20th cen­tu­ry. Trained as a lawyer and polit­i­cal sci­en­tist as well as a rab­bi, he served sev­er­al pres­ti­gious con­gre­ga­tions in the U.S., head­ed the New York Board of Rab­bis as well as the Rab­bini­cal Coun­cil of Amer­i­ca, was assis­tant to the pres­i­dent of Yeshi­va Uni­ver­si­ty, and dur­ing the lat­ter por­tion of his life, was first pres­i­dent and then chan­cel­lor of Israel’s Bar-Ilan Uni­ver­si­ty. A Mod­ern Ortho­dox Life con­tains ser­mons and columns assem­bled by mem­bers of Rab­bi Rackman’s fam­i­ly in order to pro­vide a sense of his vast inter­ests, pas­sion for jus­tice and activism, spir­i­tu­al sen­si­tiv­i­ty, and con­sid­er­able eru­di­tion. Dur­ing the course of these writ­ings, no few­er than 81 dif­fer­ent rab­bis, jurists, philoso­phers, his­to­ri­ans, polit­i­cal fig­ures, and authors are ref­er­enced and/​or cri­tiqued. Rab­bi Rack­man repeat­ed­ly com­ments upon Judaism’s empha­sis on self-dis­ci­pline, the avoid­ance of self-cen­tered­ness, the evils of anti-Semi­tism, the spe­cial qual­i­ties of moder­ni­ty, and the impor­tance of a pos­i­tive out­look on the var­ie­gat­ed expe­ri­ences of life. One can­not fail to be impressed and inspired by the words of this coura­geous, out­spo­ken, and orig­i­nal Jew­ish thinker and leader.
Yaakov (Jack) Biel­er was the found­ing Rab­bi of the Kemp Mill Syn­a­gogue in Sil­ver Spring, MD until his retire­ment in 2015. He has been asso­ci­at­ed with Jew­ish day school edu­ca­tion for over thir­ty years. R. Biel­er served as a men­tor for the Bar Ilan Uni­ver­si­ty Look­stein Cen­ter Prin­ci­pals’ Sem­i­nar and he has pub­lished and lec­tured exten­sive­ly on the phi­los­o­phy of Mod­ern Ortho­dox education.

Discussion Questions