These Books Should be Burned

Recently I walked into a Judaica store in New York City with my boyfriend. We had to buy some new tanach’s and commentaries. My boyfriend picked out the JPS tanach and put it on the counter to pay. Suddenly the cashier stated “Why are you buying this and not the Artscroll?” We replied that we happen to like the JPS translation and layout better but it seemed that the cashier had something else in mind.

He quickly pointed to the books and said “These books should be burned, they are produced by heretics who violate the yud gimel ikarim (thirteen principles of faith).” He continued on “Are you orthodox? Do you follow the law of the Shulhan Arukh, if you are then you will not buy these books.”


It was hard for me to hold myself back from tackling the old man behind the counter, I started to respond, but the conversation ended with a cool comment “We’ll agree to disagree” and with that we bustled out of the store.

I felt sorry for the old man, how could he be filled with such burning hatred? even in the month of Elul he could not be accepting or even tolerant of his fellow Jews.

Ironically, I also happen to be planning a community wide tanach siyyum for the entire NYU Jewish community. I was told to burn the very book which I was hoping could unite the different denominations on campus.

Perhaps for the communal tanach siyyum, we will use a variation of all tanach’s ever produced.

Posted on September 10, 2008

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