Librarian's Lobby
by Daniel D. Stuhlman
July 1998


When I wrote last month's column mentioning the expression Helphen vi a toiten, bankes I couldn't believe that it would cause a large discussion. I would just like to summarize some of the comments. Rabbi M. wrote me a letter saying that in 1917 he had the flu and application of bankes cured him. Several people asked if bankes were still used and just as many gave me stories about the application of bankes. One person offered to give the Library some bankes cups for our museum collection.

I would like to make one clarification. Bankes are glass cups about the size of an egg shell. The treatment involves warming the cups with a fire to remove most of the air. Then the cups are placed in a row on the back of the "patient". The semi-vacuum causes the cups to stick and pull the blood to the surface, leaving circular marks on the back that stay for a few hours. A physician told me that when he was on call for the emergency room he got a frantic call from an intern who saw a Russian patient with a row of circles on his back and was suffering from a high fever. The intern wanted to know how the circles could be related to the fever. The physician knew that the circles were from an application of bankes and reassured the intern that the circles were not a symptom of the fever, but a home remedy that did not work.

Summer Reading

Here are a few recent books received by the Library that you may enjoy during your summer vacation.

Judaism on line : confronting spirituality on the Internet, by Susan M. Zakar and Dovid Y. B. Kaufmann. Northvale, NJ : Jason Aronson, 1998.

This is the remarkable spiritual journey of a women, who began as a fundamentalist Christian and became on Orthodox Jew. Zakar is a familiar presence on the internet and frequently gives advice to others who are in the process of converting or becoming more observant. Dovid Y. B. Kaufmann is the director of campus activities for Chabad-Lubavitch of Louisiana and an adjunct professor at Tulane University. This book is based on their e-mail conversations.

Zakar started college away from home and found herself lonely and driven to find some kind of truth. She turned at first to Christian circles and later something deep inside her soul was attracted to Judaism. Kaufmann replies with words of understanding, comfort and Hasidism. Zakar eventually moves to Baltimore and her whole family converts to Judaism.

This inspirational book is a window into the thoughts and feelings of person who with her family becomes Jewish.

The Scholars Haggadah : Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and Oriental version, with a historical-literary commentary by Heinrich Guggenheimer. Northvale, NJ : Jason Aronson, 1995.

With the use of four different Hebrew fonts (type faces) the editor gives commentary on the Haggadah as well as three different versions of the text. For those of us who grew up with one custom this Haggadah is a way to see the significant differences in the ritual. For example the Yeminite kiddush adds pesukim from Tehilim not used in Ashkenazic or Sephardic versions.

The Jewish way : living the holidays, by Irving Greenberg. Northvale, NJ : Jason Aronson, 1998.

While Rabbi Greenberg is well known as a speaker, lecturer and Orthodox thinker, this is his first book. According to the preface this book is written for four types of readers: non observant Jews who seek to deepen their Jewish identity; observant Jews who wish to avoid the pitfall of practicing details while missing the goals, learned Jews who search for new insights, and non-Jews who wish to understand Judaism and who may find that it resonates in their own religious living.

In addition to covering the Shalosh Regalim, Hanukkah, Purim, and Yomim Noraim, part four deals with "modern observances: such as Yom Hashoah and Yom Ha'atzmaut.

Pioneers in Jewish medical ethics, edited by Fred Rosner. Northvale, NJ : Jason Aronson, 1997,

Dr. Rosner is an internationally known expert on Jewish medical ethics who has written and edited many books and articles. He is also a noted scholar of Maimonides and has published translated most of Maimonides medical works. This book covers the responsa and other halakhic works of four pioneers, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Lord Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits, and Rabbi Yehudah Waldenberg. Personal insights are given into the lives or these scholars. This book is aimed at reader who wants to know about the field of Jewish medical ethics and is not yet a scholar in the field. While the book quotes many responsa it is not a substitute for reading the original works.

Echoes of glory : the story of the Jews in the classical era 350 BCE - 750 BCE, by Berel Wein. Shaar Press ; distributed by Mesorah Publications : Brooklyn, 1995.

Rabbi Wein is an HTC graduate. He moved to New York to work with the Orthodox Union and later to be a congregational rabbi in Suffern, NY. This book is the third and final part of Rabbi Wein's trilogy describing the story of the Jewish people. Rabbi Wein retells history in a way that is exciting to read, using the Talmud as one of his primary sources. This trilogy is aimed at a general audience.

Daniel D. Stuhlman is president of Stuhlman Management Consultants, Chicago, IL, a firm helping organizations turn data and information into knowledge. We are looking for new clients and opportunities. Visit our web site to learn more about knowledge management and what our firm can do for you. Previous issues of Librarian's Lobby can be found at:

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 ©2003 by Daniel D. Stuhlman. All rights reserved.
Last revised July 7, 2003