[Book Review] Cain v Abel by Rabbi Dan Orstein

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By Rabbi Dan Ornstein

Rabbi Ornstein’s Cain v Abel places the reader in the role of juror in the first murder. Settle into the jury box as the case unfolds with expert witnesses evaluating Cain’s family history, emotional and spiritual influences, and psychological profile. Designed to provoke discussion, the book concludes with discussion questions.

Rabbi Ornstein crafts a new and interesting approach to a familiar story. Bringing in commentary from the Sages in the form of witness testimony puts midrash and proof texts in an approachable context. The discussion questions are thoughtful and encourage further critical thinking about the text.

This is a book that would bring a fresh approach to Torah study groups. It would also make for a fun introduction to the study of sacred text to Hebrew School and Confirmation classes. For those who work with Jewish conversion students, this would also make for an interesting way to introduce Torah study.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

More about the Author

Dan Ornstein is a rabbi and a writer living in Albany, NY. He is the author of the recently published book, Cain v. Abel: A Jewish Courtroom Drama. (Jewish Publication Society, 2020). He blogs at the Times of Israel and contributes essays monthly to WAMC Northeast Public Radio. He has been thinking about the Cain and Abel story and its meaning for us today ever since he first heard Bruce Springsteen’s iconic song, Adam Raised A Cain.

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