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Were indigenous Americans descendants of the lost tribes of Israel? From the moment Europeans realized Columbus had landed in a place unknown to them in 1492, they began speculating about how the Americas and their inhabitants fit into the Bible. For many, the most compelling explanation was the Hebraic Indian theory, which proposed that indigenous Americans were the descendants of the ten lost tribes of Israel. For its proponents, the theory neatly explained why this giant land and its inhabitants were not mentioned in the Biblical record. In Old Canaan in a New World, Elizabeth Fenton shows that though the Hebraic Indian theory may seem far-fetched today, it had a great deal of currency and significant influence over a very long period of American history. Indeed, at different times the idea that indigenous Americans were descended from the lost tribes of Israel was taken up to support political and religious positions on diverse issues including Christian millennialism, national expansion, trade policies, Jewish rights, sovereignty in the Americas, and scientific exploration. Through analysis of a wide collection of writings-from religious texts to novels-Fenton sheds light on a rarely explored but important part of religious discourse in early America. As the Hebraic Indian theory evolved over the course of two centuries, it revealed how religious belief and national interest intersected in early American history.
Hasidism is an influential spiritual revival movement within Judaism that began in the eighteenth century and continues to thrive today. One of the great classics of early Hasidism, The Light of the Eyes is a collection of homilies on the Torah, reading the entire Five Books of Moses as a guide to spiritual awareness and cultivation of the inner life. This is the first English translation of any major work from Hasidism's earliest and most creative period. Arthur Green's introduction and annotations survey the history of Hasidism and outline the essential religious and moral teachings of this mystical movement. The Light of the Eyes, by R. Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl, offers insights that remain as fresh and relevant for the contemporary reader as they were when first published in 1798.
Nobel Prize - winning author S. Y. Agnon was the foremost Hebrew writer of the twentieth century. His work navigated the world of Jewish tradition and that of secular modernity, capturing the conflict between old and new. In ""Language, Absence, Play"", Yaniv Hagbi explores Agnon's theological and philosophical attitudes toward language, attitudes that to a large extent shaped his poetics and aesthetic values. Drawing on anthologies compiled by Agnon, among others, Hagbi examines his theoretical orientation and the ways he integrated into his poetics ideas about language that are rooted in Jewish theology. In doing so, Hagbi casts light on profound parallels between religiously inspired Jewish hermeneutics and the language-centered superstructuralist theories that have dominated academic discourse in the humanities since the mid-twentieth century. With deep insight and lucid prose, ""Language, Absence, Play"" demonstrates how the traditional and the contemporary forces shaping Agnon's literary art inform and transform each other.
While photographing the Congregation Montefiore Cemetery in Las Vegas, New Mexico, in 1985, Cary Herz first heard whispers about "the other people." Thus began a twenty-year search for descendants of crypto-Jews, the Sephardic Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism during the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions centuries ago. Many openly professed Catholicism, but continued to practice the Jewish faith privately. Herz's photographs and the accompanying essays honor the people whose ancestors, through families' oral histories and genealogical records, knew about their heritage. Other New Mexican Hispanics have recently begun to explore their families' customs and are only beginning to examine their possible blended lineage. To help complete her exploration, Herz sought out symbols--gravesites, artifacts, and icons--that might point toward the presence of the descendants of crypto-Jews who came to the New World. There has recently been a renewed interest in crypto-Jews, as DNA tests have revealed the Jewish heritage of a number of Hispanic New Mexicans.
For centuries, Jews have been known as the "people of the book." It is commonly thought that Judaism in the first several centuries CE found meaning exclusively in textual sources. But there is another approach to meaning to be found in ancient Judaism, one that sees it in the natural world and derives it from visual clues rather than textual ones. According to this conception, God embedded hidden signs in the world that could be read by human beings and interpreted according to complex systems. In exploring the diverse functions of signs outside of the realm of the written word, Swartz introduces unfamiliar sources and motifs from the formative age of Judaism, including magical and divination texts and new interpretations of legends and midrashim from classical rabbinic literature. He shows us how ancient Jews perceived these signs and read them, elaborating on their use of divination, symbolic interpretation of physical features and dress, and interpretations of historical events. As we learn how these ancient people read the world, we begin to see how ancient people found meaning in unexpected ways.
During the Second World War, Christians from many nations and denominations stepped forward with courage, ingenuity and determination to protect and rescue Jews from the Holocaust. In doing so they risked their lives, and many died. Some, such as Corrie ten Boom, are celebrated, but most have been ignored. Historian Tim Dowley tells ten stories of these extraordinary women and men. Prologue Introduction The Nazi Holocaust: A Timeline Chapter 1: A Most Unorthodox Nun: Mother Maria of Paris Chapter 2: Pestilent Priests: Revd Hugh Grimes and Revd Frederick Collard, Vienna Chapter 3: The Borders of Heaven: Jane Haining, Budapest Chapter 4: No Hiding Place: Corrie ten Boom, Harlem Chapter 5: Quakers and U-boats: Dr Elisabeth Abegg, Berlin Chapter 6: The Constant Midwife: Stanislawa Leszczynska, Lodz Chapter 7: The Monk on a Bicycle: Dom Bruno Reynders, Brussels Chapter 8: The Vatican Pimpernel: Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, Rome Chapter 9: Committed Swedes: Pastors Erik Perwe and Erik Myrgren, Berlin Chapter 10: An Elusive Missionary: Elsie Tilney, Vittel
Traditional Jewish family law has persevered for hundreds of years and rules covering marriage, the raising of children, and divorce are well established; yet pressures from modern society are causing long held views to be re-examined. The Jewish Family: Between Family Law and Contract Law examines the tenets of Jewish family law in the light of new attitudes concerning the role of women, assisted reproduction technologies, and prenuptial agreements. Through interdisciplinary research combining the legal aspects of family law and contract law, it explores how the Jewish family can cope with both old and modern obstacles and challenges. Focusing on the nexus of Jewish family law and contract law to propose how 'freedom of contract' can be part of how family law can be interpreted, The Jewish Family will appeal to practitioners, activists, academic researchers, and laymen readers who are interested in the fields of law, theology, and social science.
Unraveling the controversies surrounding the Dead Sea Scrolls Since they were first discovered in the caves at Qumran in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls have aroused more fascination-and controversy-than perhaps any other archaeological find. They appear to have been hidden in the Judean desert by the Essenes, a Jewish sect that existed around the time of Jesus, and they continue to inspire veneration to this day. In this concise and accessible book, John Collins tells the story of the scrolls and the bitter conflicts that have swirled around them since their startling discovery. He explores whether the scrolls were indeed the property of an isolated, quasi-monastic community or more broadly reflected the Judaism of their time. He unravels the impassioned disputes surrounding the scrolls and Christianity, and looks at attempts to "reclaim" the scrolls for Judaism after the full corpus became available in the 1990s. Collins also describes how the decades-long delay in publishing the scrolls gave rise to sensational claims and conspiracy theories.
The first complete and annotated English translation of Maimon's influential and delightfully entertaining memoir Solomon Maimon's autobiography has delighted readers for more than two hundred years, from Goethe, Schiller, and George Eliot to Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt. The American poet and critic Adam Kirsch has named it one of the most crucial Jewish books of modern times. Here is the first complete and annotated English edition of this enduring and lively work. Born into a down-on-its-luck provincial Jewish family in 1753, Maimon quickly distinguished himself as a prodigy in learning. Even as a young child, he chafed at the constraints of his Talmudic education and rabbinical training. He recounts how he sought stimulation in the Hasidic community and among students of the Kabbalah-and offers rare and often wickedly funny accounts of both. After a series of picaresque misadventures, Maimon reached Berlin, where he became part of the city's famed Jewish Enlightenment and achieved the philosophical education he so desperately wanted, winning acclaim for being the "sharpest" of Kant's critics, as Kant himself described him. This new edition restores text cut from the abridged 1888 translation by J. Clark Murray, which has long been the only available English edition. Paul Reitter's translation is brilliantly sensitive to the subtleties of Maimon's prose while providing a fluid rendering that contemporary readers will enjoy, and is accompanied by an introduction and notes by Yitzhak Melamed and Abraham Socher that give invaluable insights into Maimon and his extraordinary life. The book also features an afterword by Gideon Freudenthal that provides an authoritative overview of Maimon's contribution to modern philosophy.
Just as European Jews were being emancipated and ghettos in their original form-compulsory, enclosed spaces designed to segregate-were being dismantled, use of the word "ghetto" surged in Europe and spread around the globe. Tracing the curious path of this loaded word from its first use in sixteenth-century Venice to the present turns out to be more than an adventure in linguistics. Few words are as ideologically charged as "ghetto." Its early uses centered on two cities: Venice, where it referred to the segregation of the Jews in 1516, and Rome, where the ghetto survived until the fall of the Papal States in 1870, long after it had ceased to exist elsewhere. Ghetto: The History of a Word offers a fascinating account of the changing nuances of this slippery term, from its coinage to the present day. It details how the ghetto emerged as an ambivalent metaphor for "premodern" Judaism in the nineteenth century and how it was later revived to refer to everything from densely populated Jewish immigrant enclaves in modern cities to the hyper-segregated holding pens of Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. We see how this ever-evolving word traveled across the Atlantic Ocean, settled into New York's Lower East Side and Chicago's Near West Side, then came to be more closely associated with African Americans than with Jews. Chronicling this sinuous transatlantic odyssey, Daniel B. Schwartz reveals how the history of ghettos is tied up with the struggle and argument over the meaning of a word. Paradoxically, the term "ghetto" came to loom larger in discourse about Jews when Jews were no longer required to live in legal ghettos. At a time when the Jewish associations have been largely eclipsed, Ghetto retrieves the history of a disturbingly resilient word.
Why do bad things happen to good people? Rabbi Kushner has sensible and unorthodox and mind-opening things to say about God, and about ourselves.
In late February 2007, Leah Fishbane's life was flourishing. A promising young graduate student in Jewish history, she was an adoring mother to her nearly four-year-old daughter and two months into a new pregnancy. In an instant, all this was gone: Leah was struck down suddenly with a previously undiagnosed brain tumor--her life ended, her family in despair. In this deeply evocative memoir, written during the dark time of the first year following Leah's death, her husband Eitan gives voice to the overwhelming nature of mourning, and to the uplifting power of memory. He tells the story of his efforts to be a good father to his grieving child and of his self-discovery as a parent in ways he had not known before. Along this path, Fishbane asks fundamental questions about the meaning of death and life, about the place of God and faith in the experience of tragedy, about what it means to live with loss. The result is a poetic testament that will resonate with anyone who has known the depths of grief, anyone who seeks to console a loved one in pain. In giving honest expression to emotions that are at once particular and universal, Shadows in Winter offers a luminous window of comfort and hope to those battling the devastation of loss.
An essential introduction to Josephus's momentous war narrative The Jewish War is Josephus's superbly evocative account of the Jewish revolt against Rome, which was crushed in 70 CE with the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. Martin Goodman describes the life of this book, from its composition in Greek for a Roman readership to the myriad ways it touched the lives of Jews and Christians over the span of two millennia. The scion of a priestly Jewish family, Josephus became a rebel general at the start of the war. Captured by the enemy general Vespasian, Josephus predicted correctly that Vespasian would be the future emperor of Rome and thus witnessed the final stages of the siege of Jerusalem from the safety of the Roman camp and wrote his history of these cataclysmic events from a comfortable exile in Rome. His history enjoyed enormous popularity among Christians, who saw it as a testimony to the world that gave rise to their faith and a record of the suffering of the Jews due to their rejection of Christ. Jews were hardly aware of the book until the Renaissance. In the nineteenth century, Josephus's history became an important source for recovering Jewish history, yet Jewish enthusiasm for his stories of heroism-such as the doomed defense of Masada-has been tempered by suspicion of a writer who betrayed his own people. Goodman provides a concise biography of one of the greatest war narratives ever written, explaining why Josephus's book continues to hold such fascination today.
The Kabbalistic idea of creation, as expressed through light, space and geometry, has left its unmistakable mark on our civilization. Drawing upon a wide array of historical materials and images of contemporary art, sculpture and architecture, architect Alexander Gorlin explores the influence, whether actually acknowledged or not, of the Kabbalah on modern design. Comprising ten chapters that each outline key concepts of the Kabbalah and its representations, both in historic diagrams and the modern built environment, Kabbalah in Art and Architecture puts forth an unparalleled and compelling reinterpretation of art and architecture through the lens of the Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism. A chapter on the Golem, and an epilogue that discusses German artist Anselm Kiefer's powerful interpretations of the Kabbalah, complete this unique book.
The recovery of 800 documents in the eleven caves on the northwest shores of the Dead Sea is one of the most sensational archeological discoveries in the Holy Land to date. These three volumes, the very best of critical scholarship, demonstrate in detail how the scrolls have revolutionized our knowledge of the text of the Bible, the character of Second Temple Judaism, and the Jewish beginnings of Christianity.
A magisterial history, ranging from antiquity to the present, that reveals anti-Judaism to be a mode of thought deeply embedded in the Western tradition. There is a widespread tendency to regard anti-Judaism - whether expressed in a casual remark or implemented through pogrom or extermination campaign - as somehow exceptional: an unfortunate indicator of personal prejudice or the shocking outcome of an extremist ideology married to power. But, as David Nirenberg argues in this ground-breaking study, to confine anit-Judaism to the margins of our culture is to be dangerously complacent. Anti-Judaism is not an irrational closet in the vast edifice of Western thought, but rather one of the basic tools with which that edifice was constructed.
A revealing look at the Jewish American encounter with Buddhism Today, many Jewish Americans are embracing a dual religious identity, practicing Buddhism while also staying connected to their Jewish roots. This book tells the story of Judaism's encounter with Buddhism in the United States, showing how it has given rise to new contemplative forms within American Judaism-and shaped the way Americans understand and practice Buddhism. Taking readers from the nineteenth century to today, Emily Sigalow traces the history of these two traditions in America and explains how they came together. She argues that the distinctive social position of American Jews led them to their unique engagement with Buddhism, and describes how people incorporate aspects of both into their everyday lives. Drawing on a wealth of original in-depth interviews conducted across the nation, Sigalow explores how Jewish American Buddhists experience their dual religious identities. She reveals how Jewish Buddhists confound prevailing expectations of minority religions in America. Rather than simply adapting to the majority religion, Jews and Buddhists have borrowed and integrated elements from each other, and in doing so they have left an enduring mark on the American consciousness. American JewBu highlights the leading role that American Jews have played in the popularization of meditation and mindfulness in the United States, and the profound impact that these two venerable traditions have had on one another.
This book outlines what the Bible teaches about the Jewish people and religion. Jewish Themes in the New Testament is an examination of what the New Testament teaches about the Jewish people in the era of the New Covenant. The core of that teaching is an affirmation of God's continued faithfulness to them. In a day when opinions regarding the Jewish people are increasingly polarised as some stress their position centre-stage and others consign them to the dustbin of history, this book seeks to demonstrate from the New Testament that both extremes are wrong. This unique book considers the theological issues, but it is concerned for much more; it is about Jewish people and the Jews as a people, as the New Testament sees them.
The legendary Akiva ben Yosef has fascinated Jews for centuries. Arguably the most important of the Tannaim, or early Jewish sages, Akiva lived during a crucial era in the development of Judaism as we know it today, and his theology played a major part in the development of Rabbinic Judaism. Reuven Hammer details Akiva's life as it led to a martyr's death and he delves into the rich legacy Akiva left us. That legacy played an extraordinarily important role in helping the Jewish people survive difficult challenges to forge a vibrant religious life anew, and it continues to influence Jewish law, ethics, and theology even today. Akiva's contribution to the development of Oral Torah cannot be overestimated, and in this first book written in English about the sage since 1936 Hammer reassesses Akiva's role from the period before the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE until the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE. He also assesses new findings about the growth of early Judaism, the reasons why Akiva was so outspoken about "Christian Jews," the influence of Hellenism, the Septuagint, and the canonization of the Hebrew Bible. Ultimately Hammer shows that Judaism without Akiva would be a very different religion.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson was the charismatic leader of the Chabad Hasidic movement and its designated Messiah. Yet when he died in 1994, the messianic fervor he inspired did not subside. Through traditional means and digital technologies, a group of radical Hasidim, the Meshichistim, still keep the Rebbe palpably close-engaging in ongoing dialogue, participating in specific rituals, and developing an ever-expanding visual culture of portraits and videos. With Us More Than Ever focuses on this group to explore how religious practice can sustain the belief that a messianic figure is both present and accessible. Yoram Bilu documents a unique religious experience that is distinctly modern. The rallying point of the Meshichistim-that the Rebbe is "with us more than ever"-is sustained through an elaborate system that creates the sense of his constant and pervasive presence in the lives of his followers. The virtual Rebbe that emerges is multiple, visible, accessible, and highly decentralized, the epicenter of a truly messianic movement in the twenty-first century. Combining ethnographic fieldwork and cognitive science with nuanced analysis, Bilu documents the birth and development of a new religious faith, describing the emergence of new spiritual horizons, a process common to various religious movements old and new.
Does it mean nothing at all that we are spiritual beings? What does one of the world's oldest religions have to say? After the astonishing success of his latest book, Kosher Sex, Shmuley Boteach now tackles these important issues in another freshly argued, provocative book that will stir debate. Convinced that Judaism possesses a core of wisdom that appeals to everyone, Shmuley Boteach ferociously argues against Jews seeking piety in abstractions, in rationalising injustice, in explaining the holocaust away as a punishment for assimilation. He pleads for recognition that Judaism is not about death or suffering, but is about seeking optimism and spirituality, as is life. In a modern world riddled with angst, this book will have an astonishing impact on how our relation to society should be understood. First published in 1999 by Duckworth Overlook under the title An intelligent person's guide to Judaism.
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