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.
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|Title of eBook: One People, Two Worlds|
|Release Date: 09-09-2009|
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|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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One People, Two Worlds
January 21, 2000
Dear Ammi (if I may take the liberty),
Since this is my first communication directly to you, I suppose it should begin with something clever and profound, but nothing comes to mind.
I understand that our shadchan (a seasoned matchmaker named Richard Curtis) has arranged a dinner meeting as an icebreaker. As far as I'm concerned, there is no ice to be broken, just a little unfamiliarity.
I look forward to meeting you for a number of reasons--the book, the project, the contact with a Jewish world that is quite alien to me at this point, as is mine to you, no doubt. But there is also a personal reason. Over the last month, Ammi Hirsch, of whom I had never heard, has materialized for me as an individual, a fellow Jew with a past and a future, someone who is a little apprehensive about meeting me (which is endearing but unnecessary)--just as I have materialized for you as a real person. Doesn't it therefore behoove us, two Jews passing in the night, to stop and say hello to each other? So, no matter what comes of this, I wish you shalom aleichem, and I am happy to make your acquaintance. Perhaps some day it will develop into a friendship. I hope so.
January 26, 2000
I just returned from Israel and was delighted to receive your note. February 2 at 6 p.m. is perfect.
See you then.
February 9, 2000
It was a pleasure meeting you in person last week. The setting was good, and the two and a half hours flew by quickly. I'm sure we could have continued talking for several hours more had the maître d' not pointed to the long line of people waiting for tables.