Monday, January 9, 2012

Yummy Torah Goodness from Kol Menachem!

Back in late 2009 and early 2010, I had the pleasure of working on an amazing project with Kol Menachem Publishers, which most of you are probably familiar with from their publication of the Gutnick Chumash. I had the pleasure of encountering the brains behind the operation, Rabbi Chaim Miller, back in 2008 when I attended the Chabad Shabbaton in Crown Heights (I wrote about it, too!), and we struck up a friendship and professional interest -- with him having upcoming projects and me being a trained copy editor.

When Rabbi Miller reached out with a new project -- The Lifestyle Books: The Five Books of Moses -- I was intrigued personally and professionally and hopped on the project without skipping a beat. Over several months, I worked as part of a team to help do some nitty gritty editing, and then sat back to wait for it to come to fruition in printed form. Lucky for you and me, it's been published!

When I was working on the project, I had no idea what the aesthetics were going to be for this particular book, and when I got a final copy of the book, I was blown away. As someone who grew up with illustrative and informative versions of the Bible (that, after all, is how Christians layout their Bible, giving color and stories a place within the text for text-study and being fully informative), this version of the chumash provides something that no other before does.
With a charming, colorful presentation, multiple strands of commentary and groundbreaking, interactive features, the Lifestyle Books Torah transforms the text into an experience-personalized, engaging and happening now. Its goal is to uncover the spiritual potential and human relevance in every line.
There is a full Hebrew text, a translation that makes the Bible so much easier to comprehend, a personalized running commentary that gives voice to "hundreds of Jewish thinkers and mystics, in a chorus that will speak to your life," as well as spiritual "treats" on every page, including "Kabbalah bites" that offer meditations, insights, and "Food for Thought." You can find a full sample of the Lifestyle Torah by clicking here

It's the kind of Torah that makes you ask questions, stop and consider, and not race through the parshah and haftarah portions. Here's what I sent Rabbi Miller upon receiving and looking through the Lifestyle Torah and its companion Prayers for Friday Night (which, by the way, is crazy amazing, too):
It turned out so beautiful, the aesthetics are truly unlike any other version I've seen, so I have to hand it to your design team. There's so much to read, and I really like the insights, kabbalah tidbits, and discussion points. Basically, I'm a huge fan. And the Friday-night companion? That's outstanding.
The companion offers explanation, insight, and even dates for when certain prayers became part of the lexicon of the siddur. Soon, Rabbi Miller hopes, there will be a full-on companion in the Lifestyle Torah collection that moves beyond simply Friday Night. Check out a full sample of the Friday Night companion here

There's Hebrew AND English, so don't let this scare you!
I've always been a sucker for the Gutnick chumash, but there's something about this volume of the Lifestyle Torah that just offers those very simple and thought-provoking insights that we all crave when studying the weekly Torah portion. 

If you're interested, head over to Kol Menachem and pick up your own copies of the Lifestyle Torah and the Friday Night companion!