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Rabbi David Bashevkin to Explore Sin and Failure in Jewish Thought at YIOT

The Young Israel of Teaneck will host author Rabbi David Bashevkin on Monday, May 6, at 8:30 p.m., as he discusses his new book, “Sin•a•gogue: Sin and Failure in Jewish Thought,”

The book, published in March by Academic Studies Press, “is a story of sin and failure and its place within Jewish thought and life,” Bashevkin told The Jewish Link. “I wrote a similar book in Hebrew in 2016, but this one is totally different. Everybody has areas in their life where they feel they’ve missed the mark. What I found is the topic of failure was not really addressed by a Jewish lens. When I was working on my master’s thesis I studied Rabbi Zadok Hakohen of Lublin who addresses so much of the intersection between Jewish life and rabbinic wisdom. Under the guidance of Dr. Yaakov Elman, I explored experiential life, or someone’s ambitions versus the reality of their actual lives. The gap between the life we imagine and the life we live is where failure arises. As I wrote my thesis I realized I had enough material to write a book.

“So much of what we engage with in Jewish life is about striving to do better. But much of the ideals of Jewish texts don’t necessarily speak to people because they feel they haven’t realized their potential. I tried to write a book for those who feel their lives have fallen short of the holy ideas we hope to strive for. There’s a lot in between success and failure. I try to offer a better understanding of failure which will give them richer ideas for how to look at their own lives.”

Bashevkin came up with the title and identified the cover photo he wanted to appear on his book long before he ever wrote a word down. It came to him in a flash and he just knew. The title comes from the suffix “agogue,” which means to lead or grow even in the face of failure. It’s Bashevkin’s hope that the book will provide its readers frameworks and strategies to develop even in the face of failure. The picture on the cover was taken by Menachem Kahana, an Israeli photographer, from a collection called “Haredim” and was taken from behind the chasidic rebbe of Belz at a tisch. Bashevkin loves the photo for many reasons, but specifically because of the small boy under the table whom many might miss at first glance. “It’s not enough to connect with leaders and their loyalists—you also need to check who is not at the table.”

Bashevkin is the director of education for NCSY, the youth movement of the Orthodox Union, and an instructor at Yeshiva University, where he teaches courses on public policy, religious crisis and rabbinic thought. He completed rabbinic ordination at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, as well as a master’s degree at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies focusing on the thought of Rabbi Zadok of Lublin under the guidance of Dr. Yaakov Elman. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in public policy and management at The New School’s Milano School of International Affairs, focusing on crisis management.

The event is free and open to the public. The Young Israel is located at 868 Perry Lane in Teaneck. For more information contact [email protected].

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