Rabbi Amy Scheinerman, author and hospice rabbi for the Jewish Federation of Howard County, was honored as a finalist in the Jewish Book Council’s 2018 National Jewish Book Awards for “The Talmud of Relationships,” which has two volumes.
The New York-based JBC announced winners and finalists on Jan. 9. Scheinerman, along with three other finalists and the winner, were honored in the Jewish education and identity category.
“The Talmud of Relationships,” published by The Jewish Publication Society, took Scheinerman a year and a half to write, but was inspired by many years of immersion in the Talmud. It was through a sincere belief that Talmud is not “about picayune technical halachic matters” or “casuistic hairsplitting” that Scheinerman found the aim for the books.
“I’ve been studying Talmud and thinking about Talmud and reading Talmud and rethinking Talmud from a conceptual level for a very long time,” Scheinerman said. “I had been struggling with ‘how do you bring Talmud to a modern Jewish community?’ Especially to folks who don’t have a yeshiva background or fluency in Aramaic.”
Conceptually, Scheinerman said the books have the reader look inward — tackling relationships with God, self and family in the first volume — before looking outward — addressing in the second volume, the Jewish community and beyond.
Scheinerman is so confident in Talmud’s accessibility, she proposed a litmus test for her own book.
“The idea is to be able to open the book at random, dive in any place without any kind of background,” she said, adding that if one can’t understand it completely, “then I haven’t done my job.”