All On A Thursday Morning: a book review by Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen

April 14, 2019 by Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen
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The subtitle for this book is appropriate being an ‘easy to use’ collection of Rabbi Gourarie’s weekly articles on personal growth.

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

Rabbi Gourarie came to Australia in 1988 as part of the program established by the Lubavitcher Rebbe where individuals (and in his case he came with his wife Dina) were sent to communities around the world. Sydney is lucky that Michoel Gourarie came on Shlichut [the name of the program translated as worldwide outreach] and has remained here for over 30 years. Some 20 years ago he established Bina which he describes as being dedicated to adult Jewish Learning. Academically he holds a M.Ed. and has an emphasis on curriculum development. What he does offer through Bina is a Torah perspective on Personal Growth and Self Development.

My first impression of this book was one of vignettes with a religious flavor. Each story he brings is usually between one and two pages [a couple extend beyond that].

Seeing this book as a series of vignettes underestimates it. Each story is more like a meditation upon which one should reflect on them as they are read.

There are six sections in this book, each with a number of meditations. The section at the end entitled Parenting and Educationand each of the six meditations, while directed at a particular section of the population has universal messages. What I find comforting is that he takes people as they are and gives pointers which are possible to achieve individual personal growth that is possible rather than daunting bordering on the impossible.

This book grew out of a study group of women who assembled under Bina on Thursday mornings. Bina is a program established by Rabbi Gourarie over 20 years ago. It has a particular focus

This reviewer is not Lubavitch and has often been quite critical of some of its manifestation. In spite of this hesitation I was impressed by this book and would recommend it.

Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen is an Associate professor in the School of Medicine (Sydney campus) at the University of Notre Dame Australia. He previously served as CEO of the Sydney Jewish Museum.

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