Rabbi Raymond Apple is the author of a number of monographs and books. His books include:
New Testament People: A Rabbi’s Notes
Bloomington, Ind.: AuthorHouse. 2016. pp. 236 ISBN 9781524629946
Enemies and Obsessions: More Memories and Musings
Bloomington, Ind.: AuthorHouse. 2014. pp. 138 ISBN 9781496992239
Eighty Days and Eighty Nights: Wise Words for Everyday
Bloomington, Ind.: iUniverse. 2012. pp. 64 ISBN 9781475946543.
Education by Degrees: Masonic Notes
Bloomington, Ind.: AuthorHouse. 2012. pp. 86 ISBN 9781477223345.
Let’s Ask the Rabbi
London: AuthorHouse. 2011. pp. 316 ISBN 9781456772697.
Freemasonry: Studies, Speeches and Sensibilities
Sydney: The Museum of Freemasonry. 2010. pp. 181 ISBN 9780980758405.
Episodes and Eccentrics: More tales of The Great Synagogue
Sydney: The Great Synagogue. 2010. pp. 79 ISBN 9780959240436.
To Be Continued: Memoirs and Musings
Sydney: Mandelbaum Publishing. 2010. pp. 222 ISBN 9780980472219. The Great Synagogue: A History of Sydney’s Big Shule
Sydney: UNSW Press. 2008. pp. 342 ISBN 9780868409276.
The Jewish Way: Jews and Judaism in Australia
Sydney: The Great Synagogue. 2002. pp. 72 ISBN 095924042X.
Francis Lyon Cohen: the Passionate Patriot
Sydney: Australian Jewish Historical Society. 1995. pp. 88
West Melbourne: Thomas Nelson Australia. 1981. pp. 112 ISBN 0170055663.
Sabbath in the Home: Songs and Prayers
(with Alexander Tobias) London: Publications Committee of the United Synagogue. 1971. pp. 62
The Hampstead Synagogue 1892-1967
London: Mitchell Vallentine. 1967. pp. 120
Companion to the Machzor: For Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
London: Publications Committee of the United Synagogue. 1964. pp. 65
We profile here some of Rabbi Apple’s most recently acclaimed books:
New Testament People: A Rabbi’s Notes (ISBN 9781524629946) discusses some 98 themes in the New Testament and Christianity and shows how Jesus and the early Christians can only be understood against a Jewish background.
Rabbi Apple never resiles from his own faith and commitment, but sees the book as a contribution to dialogue. As he writes in the book’s preface, “Dialogue requires the capacity to listen, not just to speak; to whisper, not to shout; to see in the other the face of a friend. There is dialogue when we uphold our own truth but still share information and have room and respect for each other.”
The book also features pen-and-ink drawings by David Wansbrough, a Sydney- and Moscow-based poet and exhibiting artist.
Enemies and Obsessions: More Memories and Musings (ISBN 9781496992239) presents Rabbi Apple’s reflections on his life, experiences, ideas and occasional battles. The book is short, pithy and readable, and somewhat provocative.
Unlike the author’s earlier autobiographical adventure (To Be Continued – see below), it does not follow any particular order, alphabetical, chronological or otherwise, but meanders through its subjects in a rather idiosyncratic manner. We find out who he considers to be his enemies and what he identifies as his constant obsessions, and discover the lost opportunities which might have led his career along different paths.
The author is Australian and Jewish, and both strands figure largely in what he writes, but much of what he says has wider import and will be enjoyed by readers of all backgrounds and beliefs.
Eighty Days and Eighty Nights: Wise Words for Everyday (ISBN 9781475946543) takes eighty themes ranging (alphabetically) from Adulthood to Youth – i.e. every age, stage, variety and challenge of everyday living, and makes pithy, sometimes provocative observations about them.
It claims to offer “wise words for everyday”, but wisdom is as wisdom does. Some people, perhaps many, will find the “wise words” worth noting and following; others will disagree with the author’s views, but will, hopefully, be stimulated to crystallise their own opinions and approaches.
The book is not a religious work – indeed sometimes it takes an irreverent swipe at religious reverence – but it constantly refers to the Bible and contains quotations from a range of theologies.
“People constantly asked when I was going to make a book out of selections from OzTorah – and finally I have done it: over 300 pages of ‘Ask the Rabbi’ answers listed from A (‘Abortion’) to Z (‘Zionism’).
“I think it’s a good piece of writing, but then I’m biased. I believe it’s a moral voice in an uncertain society, bringing Jewish wisdom to bear on dozens of issues of current concern. Readers often ask, ‘Are they real questions you deal with in OzTorah, or do you make them up?’ The answer is, ‘Some of each’. But all are real questions in the sense that they show what has exercised thinking minds over these two decades – climate change, cloning, politics, whistleblowing and many more.
“None of the answers are pontifications from a papal chair. They arise out of real problems and though I do my best to apply my Jewish and general knowledge and experience, I am still agonising over many issues and am not always able to find definitive answers.
“How good I am as a spiritual and ethical guide, others will have to judge. (A Christian journalist once told me he wished I was an archbishop!) Readers of Let’s Ask the Rabbi will decide for themselves whether I have brought them help, comfort and inspiration.”
The softcover and ebook editions of Let’s Ask the Rabbi are available from the publisher, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Book Depository (free worldwide shipping). Copies can also be purchased at Gold’s World of Judaica stores in Sydney and Melbourne.
To Be Continued: Memoirs & Musings (ISBN 9780980472219) offers a light-hearted look at aspects of Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple’s life and career spanning 45 years as a congregational rabbi in the UK and Australia and as a spokesman for Jews and Judaism in the community at large.
Rabbi Apple introduces the book with the comment, “If there is one subject on which everyone is an expert, it is the rabbi. Ask a person what Torah portion is read this week or what Hebrew date it is, and they probably don’t know. But ask about their rabbi – his looks, his books, his wife, his life, his faults and failings – and you’ll get a detailed analysis that would do credit to a Royal Commission.”
The book outlines some of the incidents and issues – be they funny, aggravating, joyous, solemn or contemplative – that Rabbi Apple was party to during his lengthy time in the rabbinate. It is a book that thoroughly entertains while offering its readers an insight into the life of one of Australia’s most prominent religious leaders.
To Be Continued: Memoirs & Musings is available from Mandelbaum Publishing.
The Great Synagogue: A History of Sydney’s Big Shule (ISBN 9780868409276) is a beautifully designed illustrated history of Australia’s oldest synagogue and its congregation. Written by Rabbi Apple and members of the congregation, it spans the fascinating history of the Jews in Sydney, from their arrival on the First Fleet – sixteen of them as convicts – through to the construction of the synagogue in 1878 and up to the present day. Illustrated with numerous historical documents, paintings and photographs, this book brings to life the history of the most visited and visible Jewish building in Australia and its congregation.