Teaneck native Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman cites two major reasons why many of the contributors to Yeshiva University’s new collection of original essays on the weekly Torah portions, “Mitokh Ha-Ohel,” are North Jerseyites.

“We have a thriving, growing, and intellectually committed Modern Orthodox community with tremendous resources, espousing the values of Yeshiva University,” he told The Jewish Standard. “And pragmatically speaking, North Jersey is located very close to YU [in Washington Heights]. So it’s a natural fit both philosophically and geographically.”

Feldman, co-editor of the 518-page volume along with Stuart W. Halpern, is the spiritual leader of Cong. Etz Chaim, one of Teaneck’s newer synagogues. In addition to teaching Talmud and Jewish studies at YU’s Stone Beit Midrash Program and directing rabbinic research at its Center for the Jewish Future, Feldman is an author in his own right. His latest book, “Divine Footsteps: Chesed and the Jewish Soul” (Yeshiva University Press, 2009), was the prototype for the university’s foray into popular publications.

About two years ago, Feldman accepted the task of managing this project for YU, the flagship academic center of Modern – or centrist – Orthodoxy. “I feel great value in pursuing the goal of disseminating YU Torah to a wider reading public, an area in which the university has always had an interest,” he said.

image
More than a dozen North Jersey scholars and rabbis contributed to Yeshiva University’s new anthology.

A call for contributors to “Mitokh Ha-Ohel” (literally “within the tent”) brought so many worthy replies that Feldman and Halpern plan a second volume to accommodate those who had to be left out of the first. They have not yet decided if the sequel will cover the same material – the Five Books of Moses – or the weekly and holiday haftarot from the books of the Prophets.

“We wanted a balance between instructors in different departments and disciplines, as well as administrators,” Feldman explained. Released Oct. 1 by Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers Jerusalem, the anthology features essays written from a range of approaches, including textual analysis, homiletic exposition, halachic (Jewish law) analysis, and academic exploration. The essays were by scholars from each of the university’s undergraduate and graduate schools.

“At Yeshiva University, we aspire to emulate the dwellings and philosophies of our forefathers by creating our own tent through our ideology of Torah Umadda, the marriage of Torah and secular knowledge,” said YU President Richard Joel. “This truly unique volume showcases the breadth and depth of the ‘tent’ … and serves as a physical embodiment of Yeshiva University’s passion for seeking nuanced wisdom through Torah from multiple sources, and sharing that wisdom with the world.”

Among the 56 contributors are more than a dozen from North Jersey aside from Feldman: Prof. Nechama Price and Rabbis Yaakov Neuburger and Zvi Sobolofsky of Bergenfield; Rabbis Shmuel Goldin and Menachem Genack of Englewood; Rabbis Elchanan Adler and Yonason Sacks of Passaic; and Rabbis Mark Gottlieb, Kenneth Brander, Michael Taubes, and Jacob J. Schacter of Teaneck. Additional contributors have ties to North Jersey, such as Riverdale resident Shira Weiss, assistant principal at The Frisch School in Paramus.

Two of these local scholars were involved in the next YU Press publication due out at the end of the year, the first in a planned series on Jewish law. This inaugural volume, written by Sobolofsky with a section by Neuburger, examines the laws of family purity.

“All our books will have a primary author as well as sections from other YU authorities on the particular topic,” said Feldman, who has also overseen the publication of several Hebrew volumes and works closely with the recently inaugurated press of the Orthodox Union headed by Genack. “We have a wealth of talents, skills, and knowledge among our faculty in many fields.”