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In ""Writing as Freedom, Writing as Testimony"", Sergio Parussa explores the relationship between Judaism and writing in the works of four twentieth-century Italian writers: Umberto Saba, Natalia Ginzburg, Giorgio Bassani, and Primo Levi. Parussa examines the different ways in which each author's work responds to Judaism and the notion of Jewish identity.With great detail, he shows how their writings reflect a change in attitude toward Judaism that occurred in Italian society between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, from a perception of Jewish identity as a constraint to one's freedom to an understanding of it as a tool of intellectual freedom that can contribute to one's sense of identity. For these authors, the recovery of Judaism consists not only of telling stories with Jewish subject matter but also of the repeated act of remembering, a process by which, as Parussa puts it, 'the past is salvaged from oblivion by means of its reactualization in the present.' Through memory, one becomes free to affirm difference and to make Jewish traditions an integral part of Italian culture.
"A wonderful, rich, and fascinating book, and a great read. Biale
explores the meanings of blood within Jewish and Christian cultures
from the blood of the sacrifices of the book of Leviticus to the
blood of the Eucharist to the blood of medieval blood libels and
the place of blood in Nazi ideology. Biale shows that blood
symbolism stands at the center of the divide between Judaism and
Christianity. This book will be the point of departure for all
future studies of the subject."--Shaye J.D. Cohen, Harvard
This is the book that American Jews and particularly American
Reform Jews have been waiting for: a clear and informed call for
further reform in the Reform movement.
In light of profound demographic, social, and technological
developments, it has become increasingly clear that the Reform
movement will need to make major changes to meet the needs of a
quickly evolving American Jewish population. Younger Americans in
particular differ from previous generations in how they relate to
organized religion, often preferring to network through virtual
groups or gather in informal settings of their own choosing.
Dana Evan Kaplan, an American Reform Jew and pulpit rabbi, argues that rather than focusing on the importance of loyalty to community, Reform Judaism must determine how to engage the individual in a search for existential meaning. It should move us toward a critical scholarly understanding of the Hebrew Bible, that we may emerge with the perspectives required by a postmodern world. Such a Reform Judaism can at once help us understand how the ancient world molded our most cherished religious traditions and guide us in addressing the increasingly complex social problems of our day.
Over half of all American Jewish children are being raised by intermarried parents. This demographic group will have a tremendous impact on American Judaism as it is lived and practiced in the coming decades. To date, however, in both academic studies about Judaism and in the popular imagination, such children and their parents remain marginal. Jennifer A. Thompson takes a different approach. In Jewish on Their Own Terms , she tells the stories of intermarried couples, the rabbis and other Jewish educators who work with them, and the conflicting public conversations about intermarriage among American Jews. Thompson notes that in the dominant Jewish cultural narrative, intermarriage symbolizes individualism and assimilation. Talking about intermarriage allows American Jews to discuss their anxieties about remaining distinctively Jewish despite their success in assimilating into American culture. In contrast, Thompson uses ethnography to describe the compelling concerns of all of these parties and places their anxieties firmly within the context of American religious culture and morality. She explains how American and traditional Jewish gender roles converge to put non-Jewish women in charge of raising Jewish children. Interfaith couples are like other Americans in often harboring contradictory notions of individual autonomy, universal religious truths, and obligations to family and history. Focusing on the lived experiences of these families, Jewish on Their Own Terms provides a complex and insightful portrait of intermarried couples and the new forms of American Judaism that they are constructing.
In 70 CE, the Jews were an agrarian and illiterate people living mostly in the Land of Israel and Mesopotamia. By 1492 the Jewish people had become a small group of literate urbanites specializing in crafts, trade, moneylending, and medicine in hundreds of places across the Old World, from Seville to Mangalore. What caused this radical change? "The Chosen Few "presents a new answer to this question by applying the lens of economic analysis to the key facts of fifteen formative centuries of Jewish history. Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein offer a powerful new explanation of one of the most significant transformations in Jewish history while also providing fresh insights into the growing debate about the social and economic impact of religion.
In Biblical Theology, Ben Witherington, III, examines the theology of the Old and New Testaments as a totality. Going beyond an account of carefully crafted Old and New Testament theologies, he demonstrates the ideas that make the Bible a sacred book with a unified theology. Witherington brings a distinctive methodology to this study. Taking a constructive approach, he first examines the foundations of the writers' symbolic universe - what they thought and presupposed about God - and how they revealed those thoughts through the narratives of the Old and New Testaments. He also shows how the historical contexts and intellectual worlds of the Old and New Testaments conditioned their narratives, and, in the process, created a large coherent Biblical world view, one that progressively reveals the character and action of God. Thus, the Yahweh of the Old Testament, the Son in the Gospels, and the Father, Son, and Spirit in the New Testament writings are viewed as persons who are part of the singular divine identity. Witherington's progressive revelation approach allows each part of the canon to be read in its original context and with its original meaning.
This book is a comprehensive account of how the Jews became a diaspora people. The term 'diaspora' was first applied exclusively to the early history of the Jews as they began settling in scattered colonies outside of Israel-Judea during the time of the Babylonian exile; it has come to express the characteristic uniqueness of the Jewish historical experience. Zeitlin retraces the history of the Jewish diaspora from the ancient world to the present, beginning with expulsion from their ancestral homeland and concluding with the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In mapping this process, Zeitlin argues that the Jews' religious self-understanding was crucial in enabling them to cope with the serious and recurring challenges they have had to face throughout their history. He analyses the varied reactions the Jews encountered from their so-called 'host peoples', paying special attention to the attitudes of famous thinkers such as Luther, Hegel, Nietzsche, Wagner, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, the Left Hegelians, Marx and others, who didn't shy away from making explicit their opinions of the Jews.
This book will be of interest to students and scholars of Jewish studies, diaspora studies, history and religion, as well as to general readers keen to learn more about the history of the Jewish experience.
"Man Is Not Alone" is a profound, beautifully written examination
of the ingredients of piety: how man senses God's presence,
explores it, accepts it, and builds life upon it. Abraham Joshua
Heschel's philosophy of religion is not a philosophy of doctrine or
the interpretation of a dogma. He erects his carefully built
structure of thought upon foundations which are universally valid
but almost generally ignored. It was "Man Is Not Alone" which led
Reinhold Niebuhr accurately to predict that Heschel would "become a
commanding and authoritative voice not only in the Jewish community
but in the religious life of America." With its companion volume,
"God in Search of Man," it is revered as a classic of modern
In this highly provocative and informed work, Byron L. Sherwin, one of the leading Jewish ethicists of our time, demonstrates how the wisdom of the past -- found in classical texts that form Jewish religious tradition -- can forcefully address the moral perplexities of the present.
In setting out a contemporary agenda for Jewish ethics, Sherwin debunks common misconceptions about Jewish ethics and distinguishes between the ethics of Judaism and various forms of secular and religious ethics. He shows, for example, how the ethics of Judaism and the ethics of Jews often are at odds, how the Judeo-Christian ethic is an obsolete myth, and how Jewish and Christian ethics radically differ both in terms of their theological assumptions and in their applied methodologies.
Sherwin delineates a methodology for Jewish ethics, which he applies to a wide variety of issues such as health and healing, euthanasia, reproductive biotechnology, cloning, parent-child relationships, economic justice, repentance or "moral rehabilitation, " and the relationship between humans and machines.
Drawing on a wide range of biblical, rabbinical, Jewish philosophical and kabbalistic sources, Jewish Ethics for the Twenty-First Century links the biblical term "image of God" to moral freedom, human creativity and the challenge of becoming God's "partner in creation" and a coauthor of the Torah.
The German-born Gerhard (Gershom) Scholem (1897-1982), the preeminent scholar of Jewish mysticism, delved into the historical analysis of kabbalistic literature from late antiquity to the twentieth century. His writings traverse Jewish historiography, Zionism, the phenomenology of mystical religion, and the spiritual and political condition of contemporary Judaism and Jewish civilization. During his lifetime, he published over forty volumes and close to seven hundred articles and trained at least three generations of scholars of Jewish thought, many of whom still teach in Israel, Europe, and North America. Scholem famously recounted rejecting his parents' assimilationist liberalism in favor of Zionism and immigrating to Palestine in 1923, where he became a central figure in the German Jewish immigrant community that dominated the nation's intellectual landscape in Mandate Palestine until the World War II. Despite Scholem's public renunciation of Germany for Israel, Zadoff explores how life and work of Scholem reflect ambivalence toward Zionism and his German origins. Zadoff divides the book into three parts. He first examines how Scholem created new academic and social circles in Palestine, while at the same time continuing to publish in German and take part in Jewish cultural projects in his country of origin. Zadoff then turns to the reaction of Scholem to the Holocaust and its aftermath, which constituted a turning point in his life. The third part of the book deals with Scholem's gradual return to the German intellectual world after World War II. Zadoff's erudite interpretations of Scholem's scholarship, embedded in its rich social and cultural contexts, show anew the remarkable contested worlds Scholem inhabited, resisted, and accommodated to-sometimes in ways that ran counter to his own self-portrait.
A spiritual journey both deeply personal and strikingly universal.
One of Israel's leading cultural figures, Dov Elbaum grew up in an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem family, and was a prodigy who seemed destined for greatness in the world of Talmud study. But in his late teens, he abruptly broke away and set off into secular Israeli society.
In this fascinating, courageous and compelling autobiography, Elbaum seeks to understand his decision and its consequences. With the structure of Kabbalah as his road map, Elbaum journeys into the deep recesses of his self and his soul. The ultimate goal of his journey is "the Void," a Kabbalistic space that precedes God's creation of the world, and a psychological state that precedes our formation as individuals. It is a space of great vulnerability but also of hope for rebirth and renewal.
This is an intimate, honest, revealing work, both deeply personal and strikingly universal. The Hebrew edition was a bestseller and sold over 50,000 copies."
How does a woman who grew up in rural Indiana as a fundamentalist Christian end up a practicing Jew in New York?
Angela Himsel was raised in a German-American family, one of eleven children who shared a single bathroom in their rented ramshackle farmhouse in Indiana. The Himsels followed an evangelical branch of Christianity—the Worldwide Church of God—which espoused a doomsday philosophy. Only faith in Jesus, the Bible, significant tithing, and the church's leader could save them from the evils of American culture—divorce, television, makeup, and even medicine.
From the time she was a young girl, Himsel believed that the Bible was the guidebook to being saved, and only strict adherence to the church's tenets could allow her to escape a certain, gruesome death, receive the Holy Spirit, and live forever in the Kingdom of God. With self-preservation in mind, she decided, at nineteen, to study at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. But instead of strengthening her faith, Himsel was introduced to a whole new world—one with different people and perspectives. Her eyes were slowly opened to the church's shortcomings, even dangers, and fueled her natural tendency to question everything she had been taught, including the guiding principles of the church and the words of the Bible itself.
Ultimately, the connection to God she so relentlessly pursued was found in the most unexpected place: a mikvah on Manhattan's Upper West Side. This devout Christian Midwesterner found her own form of salvation—as a practicing Jewish woman.
Himsel's seemingly impossible road from childhood cult to a committed Jewish life is traced in and around the major events of the 1970s and 80s with warmth, humor, and a multitude of religious and philosophical insights. A River Could Be A Tree: A Memoir is a fascinating story of struggle, doubt, and finally, personal fulfillment.
How to manage the process with grace, joy and good sense.
A practical guide that gives parents and teens the "how-to" information they need to navigate the bar/bat mitzvah process and grow as a family through this experience. For the first time in one book, everyone directly involved offers practical insights into how the process can be made easier and more enjoyable for all. Rabbis, cantors and Jewish educators from the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements, parents, and even teens speak from their own experience. What's it all about? Preparation for Parent and Child Tutoring, stress, expectations, enjoyment, planning for children with special needs Negotiating the ceremony and celebration Designing a creative service, heightening the spiritual exercise, special issues related to divorced and interfaith families, planning a party that neither breaks the bank nor detracts from the inherent spirituality of the event."
The first state-of-the-art, comprehensive resource to encompass the wide breadth of the rapidly growing field of Judaism and health.
"For Jews, religion and medicine (and science) are not inherently in conflict, even within the Torah-observant community, but rather can be friendly partners in the pursuit of wholesome ends, such as truth, healing and the advancement of humankind." from the Introduction
This authoritative volume part professional handbook, part scholarly resource and part source of practical information for laypeople melds the seemingly disparate elements of Judaism and health into a truly multidisciplinary collective, enhancing the work within each area and creating new possibilities for synergy across disciplines. It is ideal for medical and healthcare providers, rabbis, educators, academic scholars, healthcare researchers and caregivers, congregational leaders and laypeople with an interest in the most recent and most exciting developments in this new, important field."
Stories of Jewish Life: Casale Monferrato-Rome-Jerusalem, 1876-1985 is an unconventional memoir-an integrated collection of short stories and personal essays. Author Augusto Segre was a well-known public figure in post-WWII Italy who worked as a journalist, educator, scholar, editor, activist, and rabbi. He begins his book with stories shaped from the oral narratives of his home community as it emerged from the ghetto era, continues with his own experiences under fascism and as a partisan in WWII, and ends with his emigration to Israel. Spanning the years 1876 (one generation after emancipation from the ghetto) to 1985 (one generation after the Shoah), Segre presents this period as an era in which Italian Jewry underwent a long-term internal crisis that challenged its core values and identity. He embeds the major cultural and political trends of the era in small yet telling episodes from the lives of ordinary people. The first half of the book takes place in Casale Monferrato-a small provincial capital in the Piedmont region in northwest Italy. The second half, continuing in Casale in the late 1920s but eventually shifting to Rome then Jerusalem, follows the experiences of a boy named Moshe (Segre's Jewish name and his stand-in). Moshe relates episodes of Italian Jewry from the 1920s to the 1980s that portray the insidiousness of fascism as well as the contradictions within the Jewish community, especially in its post-ghetto relationship to Italian society. The painful transformation of Italian Jewry manifests itself in universal themes: the seductiveness of modern life, the betrayal of tradition, the attraction of fashionable political movements, the corrosive effects of totalitarianism, and ultimately, on the positive side, national rebirth and renewal in Israel. These themes give the book significance beyond the "small world" from which they arise because they are issues that confront any society, especially those emerging from a traditional way of life and entering the modern world. Students, scholars, and readers of Jewish history, Italian history, and fiction with an autobiographical thread will find themselves captivated by Segre's stories.
One of today's most respected scholars of biblical history and the Dead Sea Scrolls, James C. VanderKam here offers a superb new introduction to early Judaism. Based on the best, most recent archaeological research, this illustrated volume explores the history of Judaism during the Second Temple period (516 B.C.E. - 70 C.E.), describing the body of Jewish literature written during these centuries and the most important groups, institutions, and practices of the time. Particularly interesting are VanderKam's depiction of events associated with Masada and the Kokhba revolt, and his commentary on texts unearthed in places like Elephantine, Egypt, and Qumran. Written in the same accessible style as VanderKam's widely praised Dead Sea Scrolls Today, this volume provides the finest classroom introduction to early Judaism available.
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