When we learn that our community members do something as momentous as writing and publishing a book, we want to celebrate their accomplishment. 

The New Shul’s Rabbi Michael Wasserman recently released his book “The Dancer and the Dance,” a book of essays concerning belief and skepticism. The book was published by Wipf and Stock.

Reviewer Rabbi Jack Riemer, the author of “Finding God in Strange Places” and of “The Day I Met Father Isaac at the Supermarket,” offered high praise.

“In the eight graceful and thoughtful essays that make up this book, Michael Wasserman argues that both skeptics and believers need to stand back and question their assumptions. A skepticism that never questions itself is as dogmatic as a fundamentalist religion that never questions itself. He proposes that we need a new kind of skepticism that makes room for faith, not in spite of its own logic but because of it, and that we need a new faith as well, one that does not hide from skepticism or ignore it but that has skepticism at its core. He calls such faith not the opposite of doubt but its fruition.

“A book like this is really relevant in our time because the walls between people on one side or the other on religious or political issues have grown so high. People are now hesitant about inviting relatives who hold different views on these matters to sit together at family meals. And people on different sides no longer discuss issues calmly but instead hurl insults at each other and make up their own facts.

“I have seldom seen a book of philosophical thought written with such grace and eloquence. Wasserman writes with a calm nature and with a respect for both sides of the issues that he deals with. He is a model of the kind of engaged and yet detached reasoning that he advocates. And therefore, all those who are in search of a faith that is reasonable and of a way of reasoning that is based on faith should read this book.”

Samara Shanker, who was raised in Phoenix since the age of two, published “Naomi Teitlebaum Ends the World,” her first book with Simon & Schuster on Sept. 6. 

The story tells of three Jewish friends studying for their b’nai mitzvah who suddenly find they have to save the world from a golem and other Jewish mythical beings when a magical gift gets out of control and thrusts the young Jews into a supernatural quest with the fate of the world at stake.

The book is geared to middle-school students, but is sure to be enjoyed by all ages.

Rabbi Chaim Meyer Tureff lives between Los Angeles and Cave Creek, where he facilitates spiritual workshops for Soberman’s Estate, a residential treatment facility founded by Mitch Prager, a longstanding member of Greater Phoenix’s Jewish community.

Tureff’s book “Recovery in the Torah: Models of Spirituality and Healing,” is directed to those in recovery from addictions.

“[Addiction] is a big problem in our entire society,” Tureff told the Jewish Journal. “It hits Jews disproportionately because of our mentality which includes shame, trauma, constant self-criticism and unrealistic expectations.”

Enjoy these reads, and if you know of another member of our community who is about to publish a book, be sure to let us know.

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