Yet Rabbi Mike Comins, author of "A Wild Faith," wants us to know that Judaism and nature have long been entwined, and that there is nothing paganistic about a Jew, let alone a rabbi, talking to trees.
The Happy Minyan has no physical body. It has never owned property or had a permanent location. It relies on the kindness of big congregations. For many years, it used a small chapel at Beth Jacob Congregation. Then their landlord decided they needed the space for something else, so the Happy Minyanites migrated west to a space in the Congregation Mogen David, which, rumor has it, they might already have outgrown.
Rabbi Mark Borovitz's memoir of how prison Torah study turned an alcoholic grifter and check-kiter into a successful rehabilitator of Jewish cokeheads, gamblers and other addicts is a blustering and grandiose book, marred by clichés and solecisms. And yet, I liked "The Holy Thief: A Con Man's Journey From Darkness to Light," very much.
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz has written more than 60 books on Jewish spirituality, but he is most famous for his translation and commentary of the Babylonian Talmud, which made the complicated text accessible to millions of otherwise ignorant Jews.
Recently, Steinsaltz turned his attention to the classic work of Chabad Chasidism -- "The Tanya," first published in 1797 by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad. In "Opening the Tanya: Discovering the Moral and Mystical Teachings of a Classic Work of Kabbalah" (Wiley, 2003) Steinsaltz translates and comments on the text and explicates the Tanya's philosophical and spiritual messages.