OU Creates new Publishing House, OU Press

28 Jan 2009

The work of the Orthodox Union, in all the many areas of Jewish life that it influences, is informed by an overriding commitment to Torah learning, made available both in print and on the web.

The OU Press, recently founded under the general editorship of Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher, takes this commitment one step further. One of the most devoted students of the Rav, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”l, Rabbi Genack first conceived of the OU Press as a vehicle to further disseminate the Rav’s works. And first off the press is a brand-new Passover Haggadah, “The Seder Night: An Exalted Evening,” with commentary from the Rav. This will be followed by other collections of the Rav’s insights on the Siddur, the Kinot for Tisha b’Av and more.

“We see,” says Rabbi Genack, “that there is a real interest in high-quality scholarly literature from our constituents, and from the broader Jewish community as well.” So OU Press will also turn its attention to works from other authors on a variety of subjects, including translated and edited texts on the Tanach, that is, the Hebrew Bible.

OU Press hopes to consolidate all its resources to release many works of the Rav, widely recognized as the preeminent rabbinic scholar and leader of Orthodox Judaism who combined – and defined – the intersection of intellectual modern thought and Torah Judaism.

As to why the OU felt a need to create a publishing house of its own, Julius Berman, a former president of the OU who is chairman of OU Press, points out, “There is no one who can serve the OU community better than the OU itself. The publishing house is something we’ve been developing for many years already at the OU,” Mr. Berman said. As a former chair of the Kashrut Commission, which developed Mesorah Journal, Mr. Berman saw the great response in the Jewish community to published excerpts in the journal of the Rav’s teachings. “Especially now, when he is no longer with us, it is important to disseminate the Rav’s thoughts and views to our ever-growing constituency. It is time for OU Press to finally come to fruition.”

“There is a niche that is waiting to be served in the Orthodox Jewish community,” says Rabbi Genack, pointing out the many admirers and followers of the Rav’s teachings. “And although OU Press will likely expand to include translated works of other great rabbinic figures, making the Rav’s works more widely available may end up being our biggest contribution.”

The house is in capable hands: in addition to Rabbi Genack, there is Rabbi Simon Posner, who first arrived at the OU in April 2008 after a career as a corporate lawyer in private practice. Rabbi Posner, who studied the Rav’s teachings in-depth at Yeshiva University before attending Harvard Law School, has assumed various editorial and management responsibilities.

The new Haggadah contains some of the Rav’s most inspiring teachings and thoughts, much of it in the Rav’s own language, including excerpts from his public lectures, published works and unpublished tapes, and summaries of his shiurim on the Haggadah and Hilchot Pesach (laws of Passover). “The Seder Night: An Exalted Evening is a great addition to any seder table and will benefit anyone searching to transform the seder into an exultant, exciting, and authentically spiritual experience, and will allow both novices and experts of the Rav’s teachings to understand his distinctive perspective on the grandeur of the seder night,” said Rabbi Genack.

The Haggadah is now available through www.ou.org/haggadah and in Judaica stores and cost $25. Look for the Haggadah and other OU Press publications at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble’s website, bn.com, and shopou.org.