Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter
As we approach the new year, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin shares his thoughts on Rosh Hashanah and the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature:
One of the most important images of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur derives from the world of books, most specifically, the Book of Life, and those who shall be inscribed in it.
It is perhaps symbolic that in the Jewish mind life is so associated with a book, for I know of no other culture in which books play so central a role. Obviously, at the heart of Judaism is the book, the Bible. For that matter, I don’t know of another culture in which its central book is carried around at prayer services, as people kiss it. The famous expression about the Jews, “people of the book,” was coined by, or is attributed to, Muhammad, and he meant by that expression the people of the Bible. But over the centuries, the expression became associated with a general sense of intellectualism and love of learning among Jews. That is why the Jewish Book Council considers it a great honor to administer the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, and to encourage through this award and through ongoing conferences the coming generation of Jewish writers.
We still are the people of the book, the people of the Bible and Talmud, a people devoted to fiction and non-fiction, and a people who are trying to fashion a literature that will affect the world in our generation and in generations to come.
So, as we approach the New Year, we extend to all of you a wish for a year of good books, both holy books and wise secular ones, books that deepen you even as they bless the lives of generations to come. And may we all be inscribed for a year of sweetness, growth, and fine reading.
- Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, spiritual leader, scholar, ethicist, is the acclaimed author of fourteen nonfiction books. He lives with his wife Dvorah in New York City and lectures regularly throughout the United States.