OU Press Book Tells Story of Internet Rabbi, Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff

06 Jun 2011


He’s a rabbi, a historian and an internet celebrity, and he’s telling his life’s story. Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff’s weekly lectures on Jewish law and history have captivated audiences around the world, transporting internet listeners to his Jerusalem classroom. After teaching Torah for over fifty years in the United States, Israel and covertly in the Soviet Union, Rabbi Rakeffet has transformed his colorful stories into a scholarly memoir, recently published as From Washington Avenue to Washington Street by OU Press | Jewish Educational Publications and Gefen Publishing. This trained historian documents the momentous era in which he lived and the outstanding people whose paths he crossed, taking readers behind the scenes of the Orthodox world in the late twentieth century.

Living through turbulent times, Rabbi Rakeffet describes the historic events he witnessed, providing background and context along with personal narrative and engaging anecdotes. We share remarkable stories of the famous personalities he met and interacted with, his fascinating travel adventures, and the famed schools in which he studied and taught. We accompany Rabbi Rakeffet on his life’s journey brimming with experiences as widely varied as his growing up in the Bronx, teaching Talmud at Yeshiva University, participating first-hand in the growth of Torah institutions in Israel, serving as a rabbi in the Israeli army, and teaching Torah undercover in the Soviet Union. All of this is delivered with Rabbi Rakeffet’s customary flair and sense of drama, making the people, places, and events come alive.

Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet is Rosh Yeshiva and Professor of Rabbinic Literature at Yeshiva University’s Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute in Jerusalem. He is a noted scholar, author and teacher who has taught thousands of students throughout his over 50 years of teaching. A close student of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, he served as a community rabbi in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and taught Talmud in Yeshiva University before moving to Israel in 1969. In Israel, he was a pioneering educator of Americans and, among his many activities, spearheaded covert teaching of Talmud in the Soviet Union.

From Washington Avenue to Washington Street is the latest offering from OU Press, the publishing house of the Orthodox Union, that recently published Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays by Rabbi Norman Lamm; and Darosh Darash Yosef: Discourses of Rav Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik on the Weekly Parashah by Rabbi Avishai David. Important future books include the Koren Mesorat HaRav Siddur, a new prayer book with a magisterial commentary based on the Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s teachings, accompanied by the eloquent translation of the prayers by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and the popular Koren layout.

Copies of From Washington Avenue to Washington Street, which cost $29.95 each, are available through www.OUPress.org. Those who wish to place a bulk order (at a discounted price) can contact OU Press at OUPress@ou.org.

Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff

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