New Biblical Translation Emphasizes Divine Love Story in Poem

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

For centuries people have turned to the Bible's Song of Songs for its beautiful imagery and passionate love language. Rabbis have long taught that the poem's dialogue is a metaphor for the great "love story" between God and the people Israel. But how does this divine love story from ancient Israel relate to our lives as liberal Jews in the twenty-first century? Does God in fact still love the people Israel? 

In Shir HaShirim: A Modern Commentary on the Song of Songs, Leonard S. Kravitz and Kerry M. Olitzky deliver a treasure for biblical scholars, both professional and hobbyist. This latest volume in Kravitz and Olitzky's Modem Commentary series published by the URJ Press evokes questions stemming from classic rabbinical analysis and provides answers rooted in contemporary life. 

Featuring a new, contemporary translation of the Hebrew text, with each Hebrew verse paired directly with its English translation, editors Kravitz and Olitzky shed light on intricate details throughout the Song of Songs. Drawing upon the works of Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Gersonides, and other classical biblical commentators, as well as insights from contemporary teachings, Kravitz and Olitzky help the reader appreciate the depth of Song of Song and its role today as a metaphor for the love between God and Israel. 

Leonard S. Kravitz, Ph.D., is a rabbi and professor of midrash and homiletics at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. 

Kerry M. Olitzky, D.H.L., is executive director of the Jewish Outreach Institute. He also holds rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he served the faculty and administration for fifteen years. 

URJ Press is the book-publishing arm of the Union for Reform (formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations), the synagogue arm of the Reform Movement in North America. Uniting more than 1.5 million Reform Jews in 900 congregations across the United States and Canada, URJ programs and services include music, book publishing, adult education opportunities, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, D.C.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu