Dr. Laura and the Rabbi
Between tackling the Ten Commandments and co-authoring a book with a best-selling writer, it’s no wonder that Rabbi Stewart Vogel is feeling so inspired these days.
Vogel, head rabbi of Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, is co-author of the recently released book “The Ten Commandments: The Significance of God’s Laws in Everyday Life.” Written with former Temple Aliyah congregant and radio talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger, “The Ten Commandments” purports to be a “modern update and popularization of the Word of God” — an ambitious task, to be sure, but one whose time has come, according to Vogel.
“The Ten Commandments are so taken for granted,” Vogel said. “One of our goals was to provoke people into not being casual or pedestrian about these issues but to challenge and question the meaning of the commandments and of religion in general. Through questioning and challenging your beliefs, that is how you take possession of them.”
Vogel said that writing with the famous Schlessinger was “really enjoyable” and, despite her many strong opinions, not the difficult task some would think. As anyone with access to a radio knows, Los Angeles-based “Dr. Laura’s” talk show is, along with Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern, one of the country’s top-rated English-language broadcasts. The tough-talking radio counselor has also published several best-selling books on relationships (by last week, “Ten Commandments” was already No. 2 on The New York Times best-sellers list). And while listeners love her acerbic manner, ripping down morality’s self-proclaimed poster girl has become something of a media blood sport. But without Dr. Laura’s popularity, Vogel admits, it would have been difficult to get a book on the Ten Commandments published.
Vogel and Schlessinger devoted nearly a year to working on “The Ten Commandments” — no small feat, considering their busy schedules. The pair worked from an outline they had composed together, with each one writing separately on a particular section. Then Vogel would turn his copy over to Schlessinger, and she would produce the final version of each chapter.