One People, Two Worlds: A Reform Rabbi and an Orthodox Rabbi Explore the Issues That Divide Them

One People, Two Worlds: A Reform Rabbi and an Orthodox Rabbi Explore the Issues That Divide Them

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One People, Two Worlds: A Reform Rabbi and an Orthodox Rabbi Explore the Issues That Divide Them by Ammiel Hirsch, Yaakov Yosef Reinman

After being introduced by a mutual friend in the winter of 2000, Reform Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch and Orthodox Rabbi Yosef Reinman embarked on an unprecedented eighteen-month e-mail correspondence on the fundamental principles of Jewish faith and practice. What resulted is this book: an honest, intelligent, no-holds-barred discussion of virtually every “hot button” issue on which Reform and Orthodox Jews differ, among them the existence of a Supreme Being, the origins and authenticity of the Bible and the Oral Law, the role of women, assimilation, the value of secular culture, and Israel.

Sometimes they agree; more often than not they disagree—and quite sharply, too. But the important thing is that, as they keep talking to each other, they discover that they actually like each other, and, above all, they respect each other. Their journey from mutual suspicion to mutual regard is an extraordinary one; from it, both Jews and non-Jews of all backgrounds can learn a great deal about the practice of Judaism today and about the continuity of the Jewish people into the future.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307489098
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/09/2009
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Ammiel Hirsch is Executive Director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America/World Union for Progressive Judaism, North America. His editorials, essays, and sermons appear in newspapers and magazines around the world. He lives in New York City.

Yosef Reinman is an Orthodox writer, historian, and scholar of international renown. His monographs and articles have appeared in many Jewish periodicals and his study of Talmudic contractual law is a standard text in yeshivas throughout the world. He lives in Lakewood, New Jersey.

From the Hardcover edition.

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One People, Two Worlds: A Reform Rabbi and an Orthodox Rabbi Explore the Issues That Divide Them 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a critical book for every non observant Jew or those who come from a limited background. I couldnt put this book down. It helped me understand the critical issues behind the two sides and gave me a knowlege that I will be eternally grateful for.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am your typical Jewish guy from New Jersey with the typical Sunday school education. I Moved out to Memphis with my girlfriend to get away from the inner city traffic. I always considered myself Reform since it is the least radical form of Judaism. So, my girlfriend's mother sends us this book that seemingly has everyone including countless newspapers debating titled, "One People Two Worlds". For no reason other then boredom, I became deeply engaged. At first, I found myself consistently agreeing with Rabbi Hirsh. I thought the other Rabbi [Reinman] was just a right wing fundamentalist with outdated logic and beliefs. At some point while I was reading the book and yelling obscenities directed towards Rabbi Reinman as to why he thinks he knows it all, my girlfriend challenged me saying, that I was being intellectually dishonest by always agreeing with the side that was more inline with my beliefs. She suggested that I play devils advocate and should try to establish a case for the Orthodox point of view. To my amazement, not only did my arguments sound reasonable, I started questioning Rabbi Hirsh's points. To make a long story short, after reading the majority of this book at least six times, we both agreed that we would like to learn more about orthodox Judaism. So, after researching this endeavor, we decided to go study at Aish Hatorah in Israel and discover the real meaning of Judaism. The one thing that really irked me is how Rabbi Hirsh can use one or two examples of the Talmud to strengthen his argument for the Reform point of view while at the same time rejecting the rest of the Talmud. I found this book intellectually challenging and if read with an open mind, It can really take you places (I can save you a spot next to me at Aish). Thank You Rabbi Reinman for the gift of life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a great read!! I recomended it to my friends Don Pedro an Z. Mazlataslavski and they loved it too. Kudos to Rabbi Reinman for having the courage (even though he had the backing of several prominent orthodox rabbis) to go foward with this fantastic dialogue that will shed light to many non-believers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Way back in Aug or Sept 02 near the High Holy days I came accross this book One People, Two Worlds: A Reform Rabbi and an Orthodox Rabbi Explore the issues That Divide Them. Normally I would have no interest in such a topic, but maybe because it was close to Rosh Hashanah I felt a little more Jewish than usual so I bought this book after reading the first few pages. In recent years I have wanted to get a little closer to my Jewish roots even though I have never been into the religion in general and have even questioned my belief that there is a Higher Power, plus I think the bible conflicts with what we know from science. Anyway, I decided to attend High Holy day services for the first time in years . I purchased tickets at a Reform temple but only attended some of the services. I did, however, Fast, for Yom Kippur. A few years ago I visted an Orthodox Shul with a friend who is trying to stay kosher and it is quite interesting how different the lifestyles are, part of which includes the seperation of men and women even to the extent of forbidding holding hands. Now, having said all that, I like reading newpaper editorials, letters to the editor, especially in Time Magazine, and watching the cable news channel programs that match two different views and they debate the issues. Well, this book is like that. These two rabbis go head to head in the form of letters to each other defending their point of view and giving reasons why the other side is either out of date or has gone too far from the orriginal intent of what the religion is supposed to be all about. As I continued reading it I was very turned on by the very intelligent ideas and logic both rabbis used. It didn't make me switch sides but I have a better perspective on the differences between the Reform and Orthodox lifestyles. It really got me to think more about Jewish values and how they relate to living in a modern society. If you liked the fictional book and movie The Chosen you will love this interesting book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My first language is Hebrew, so I am appologize for my poor English. I learned a lot from this book, first I learned how two poeple can communicate with each other with great respect, with much patience. I know this is not the purpose of the book, it may be the "byproduct" to some, for me, at was the main lesson. Of course I learned alot about the Torah, Talmud, and more. I must find books now of same topic, from the same author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book a mixed bag. As a Talmudic scholar and a historian I am familiar with just about all of the arguments, scholarly citations and points of divergence between Orthodox and Reform Judaism found in One People, Two Worlds. It is quite obvious that Rabbi Reinman prevailed from a scholarly perspective. His understanding of Jewish textual resources and his demonstration of Hirsh¿s misrepresentations and misinterpretations were cogent and convincing. However, where the challenge seemed more evenly matched was on the emotional level. Indeed, as self-proclaimed, Hirsh¿s Judaism rests more on emotional foundations than on belief in the authenticity of the Original Source of the Torah¿s divinity. Hirsh pronounced that he is drawn to Judaism ¿intuitively,¿ which I assume means some inexplicable feeling from the inner recesses of his soul. Reinman produces rich evidence to the Orthodox viewpoint based upon rigorous documentation, rational thought and the historical transmission of Jewish Tradition. He successfully points out the weaknesses and contradictions in Hirsh¿s attempt to rationally justify his position of Reform Judaism. But as I mentioned, the entire strength of Hirsh¿s position is not rooted in strict scholarship. Thus, in reality the debate is not balanced in its premise, it is apples arguing with oranges. As the author of Every man a Slave (ISBN 096770443X) that in three instances portrays debates between Reform rabbis and Orthodox Jews, I have written, albeit in a fictional scenario, the exact same arguments from the perspective of both antagonist and protagonist. But unlike One People, Two Worlds, I had the literary license to incorporate the intellectual discussions into episodes that followed with representative deeds. Those deeds exposed the guile, insincerity and the rebellious defection from traditional Judaism that were the hallmarks of the early Reform rabbinate. After 175 years, it is apparent from Amiel Hirsh¿s positing that the same resentment toward Orthodox Judaism persists (nowadays, not so much for the ideological clash as for the failure of the Reform to garner Orthodox recognition). I am still not quite sure of the objective of One People Two Worlds. If it was meant to be a debate or discussion to convince readers of one position or the other, it probably won¿t be overly successful. If it was written to demonstrate that there could be civil discourse between warring parties, I feel it was a weak attempt. For although Reinman¿s overtures of fraternity toward his rival are bountiful, Hirsh does not respond in kind. Surely, a tacit rejection. Furthermore, in the epilog Hirsh¿s continued resentment is manifest as he struggles to construe the book as nascent Orthodox recognition. I would add that despite the deferential appellations with which the protagonists refer to each other, the rancorous disparity of ideas seems too mordant to conclude other than ¿ the effusion of mutual respect is more or less disingenuous. In terms of content, it is difficult to rate a book that combines two divergent treatises from two authors. I would have given Reinman four and a half stars and Hirsh, perhaps three (only on his ability to speak in flowery terms and obfuscate). However, in terms of the format of the book, I must reduce my overall recommendation to three stars. As a debate or a dialog, the respective postings were too long, covered too many subjects at once and presented no logical order. In addition, the responses often didn¿t follow the questions and, on occasion, posted questions were not responded to in sequence or at all. I would imagine that even for an intelligent reader thirsting for knowledge this book would be extremely difficult to follow. Nonetheless, over the years I have read several books written by Rabbi Reinman and have even spoken to him on one occasion. He is indeed one of the premier scholars of our times and despite my rating of three stars on the book as a whole, I highly reco
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is my sincere hope that Jews across the world, who have never been exposed to the beauty of traditional Orthodox Judaism, read this book, and are inspired to come back home.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read the excerpt from this is fascinating. Its going to be a NY Times best seller. This is for anyone that wants to really understand the issues. I can¿t wait ¿for the rest of the story¿.