Few American rabbis write and speak with the eloquence, compassion, and moral urgency of Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch. His new book The Lilac Tree – A Rabbi’s Reflections on Love, Courage, and History is a series of essays reflecting his lifetime of learning, thinking, doing, preaching, teaching, and serving the Jewish people. It is a must-read for anyone seeking what lies at the heart of Judaism as it evolved over the centuries, the significance of the State of Israel as the embodiment of the Jewish people’s highest spiritual and moral aspirations, and the centrality of the time-tested Jewish ethical impulse that offer the world a means to repair its brokenness, polarization, and immorality.

Rabbi Hirsch is a rabbi’s rabbi. He is not only learned in ancient, medieval, and modern Jewish sources and Hebrew literature, but he is widely read in history, world literature and thought. He identifies as an Israeli where he was educated and served as a tank commander in the Israel Defense Forces, and as an American Jewish and liberal Zionist thought leader who serves a major synagogue community as Senior Rabbi in New York City, the Stephen S. Wise Free Synagogue. He was ordained at the Reform movement’s seminary and is an attorney.

In 2018, the Jerusalem Post named Ammi among “The 50 Most Influential Jews of the Year” and City & State New York magazine praised him as “the borough’s most influential voice” for Manhattan’s more than three hundred thousand Jews.

A public intellectual whose message is rooted in Judaism and is broadly universal, Rabbi Hirsch speaks to the heart, soul, and conscience of the reader regardless of one’s faith, social, political, ethnic, or cultural background. With fluidity and superb writing skills Ammi weaves together the most important ideas and ideals of Judaism with compassion and wit thereby offering the contemporary reader a way forward through turbulent times characterized by moral confusion and moral relativism. Rabbi Hirsch’s book ought to be on the reading list of every American, Jew and non-Jew alike.

A Disclaimer – Rabbi Hirsch is a dear friend. However, I would recommend this volume even if I did not know and love him. It is that good. And, while I have you, I highly recommend that you listen every other Wednesday to a new episode of his superb Podcast that he calls In These Times with Rabbi Ammi Hirsch. The Podcast is described this way: “Unbound by politics and untethered by party lines, Ammi and his expert guests discuss everything from race and antisemitism to all the other issues that keep you up at night.”

To purchase The Lilac Tree – go to https://www.amazon.com/Lilac-Tree-Reflections-Courage-History/dp/1637587465

To listen to Ammi’s podcast In These Times with Rabbi Ammi Hirsch – go to https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/in-these-times-with-rabbi-ammi-hirsch/id1622485978