Books

Cain Vs. Abel A Jewsh Courtroom Drama

About the Book

Publication Date: April 2020

Enter the packed courtroom and take your seat as a juror on the Cain v. Abel trial. Soon, the Prosecution and Defense attorneys (angels from Jewish legend) will call Cain, Abel, Sin, Adam, Eve, and God to the witness stand to hear their private perspectives on the world’s first murder. Great Jewish commentators throughout the ages will also offer (admittedly contradictory) testimony on Cain’s emotional, societal, and spiritual influences. As jurors, when we mete out Cain’s punishment, must we factor in his family history, psychological makeup, and the human impulse to sin?

This presentation constitutes a highly eclectic and gripping compilation of Jewish commentators’ insights on the Cain and Abel story. Courtroom scenes are juxtaposed with the author’s commentary advancing novel insights and introspection. And as each of us grapples with Cain’s actions, we confront our own darkest traits. If Cain is a stand-in for all humanity, what can we do to avoid becoming like Cain? Furthering this conversation, the Discussion and Activity Guide promotes open dialogue about human brokenness and healing, personal impulses and societal responsibility.

What a compelling piece of legitimate courtroom theater! I know the biblical story inside out. If challenged, I could possibly recite it by heart. And yet, as I read the manuscript, it felt almost as though I hadn’t ever encountered it before—that’s how clever and interesting this way of reading the text struck me.
Rabbi Martin S. Cohen, Shelter Rock Jewish Center, Roslyn, New York

How do you make an ancient story come to life? By making the human drama live. Bringing us the testimony and perspective of every participant, Rabbi Dan Ornstein offers us a riveting read, and a chance to expand our own humanity at the same time.
Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, Dean, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, American Jewish University

Dan Ornstein

Dan Ornstein (Rabbi, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1989) is rabbi of Congregation Ohav Shalom in Albany, New York. He also blogs at the Times of Israel, contributes essays at WAMC Northeast PublicRadio, wrote for the Mesorah Matrix book series on Judaism (New Paradigm Matrix Publishing) and co-wrote a chapter (with Rabbi Rena Kieval) in Jewish Relational Care A-Z (Haworth Press).

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