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Elijah ben Solomon, the "Genius of Vilna," was perhaps the best-known and most understudied figure in modern Jewish history. This book offers a new narrative of Jewish modernity based on Elijah's life and influence.
While the experience of Jews in modernity has often been described as a process of Western European secularization--with Jews becoming citizens of Western nation-states, congregants of reformed synagogues, and assimilated members of society--Stern uses Elijah's story to highlight a different theory of modernization for European life. Religious movements such as Hasidism and anti-secular institutions such as the yeshiva emerged from the same democratization of knowledge and privatization of religion that gave rise to secular and universal movements and institutions. Claimed by traditionalists, enlighteners, Zionists, and the Orthodox, Elijah's genius and its afterlife capture an all-embracing interpretation of the modern Jewish experience. Through the story of the "Vilna Gaon," Stern presents a new model for understanding modern Jewish history and more generally the place of traditionalism and religious radicalism in modern Western life and thought.
In the generation after Constantine the Great elevated Christianity to a dominant position in the Roman Empire, his nephew, the Emperor Julian, sought to reinstate the old gods to their former place of prominence-in the face of intense opposition from the newly powerful Christian church. In early 363 c.e., while living in Syrian Antioch, Julian redoubled his efforts to hellenize the Roman Empire by turning to an unlikely source: the Jews. With a war against Persia on the horizon, Julian thought it crucial that all Romans propitiate the true gods and gain their favor through proper practice. To convince his people, he drew on Jews, whom he characterized as Judeans, using their scriptures, institutions, practices, and heroes sometimes as sources for his program and often as models to emulate. In The Specter of the Jews, Ari Finkelstein examines Julian's writings and views on Jews as Judeans, a venerable group whose religious practices and values would help delegitimize Christianity and, surprisingly, shape a new imperial Hellenic pagan identity.
The "Mishnah," understood to be the written form of the Jewish Oral Law, was preserved by the rabbis following the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE, and was completed in approximately 200 CE. More than four centuries of Jewish religious thought and activity are found within this text, and it is as important to the development of Judaism as the New Testament is to the development of Christianity. Students of the New Testament will find it especially interesting because its contents reflect the Jewish religious tradition during the time of Jesus and the early Christian Church. The "Mishnah" historical value in understanding the first two centuries of the common era is comparable in its importance to the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, and secular works of that time such as the writings of Josephus. This edition by Danby is the classic English translation of the "Mishnah" (which was originally written in Middle or "Mishnaic" Hebrew), and has been the standard for almost 80 years for scholars and other interested readers. Until the printing of this volume in the 1930s, the "Mishnah" was not available to study as a whole for the English speaker. Now it is available for the first time in a paperback edition.
In this sparkling debut, a young critic offers an original, passionate, and erudite account of what it means to feel Jewish-even when you're not. Self-hatred. Guilt. Resentment. Paranoia. Hysteria. Overbearing Mother-Love.
In this witty, insightful, and poignant book, Devorah Baum delves into fiction, film, memoir, and psychoanalysis to present a dazzlingly original exploration of a series of feelings famously associated with modern Jews. Reflecting on why Jews have so often been depicted, both by others and by themselves, as prone to "negative" feelings, she queries how negative these feelings really are. And as the pace of globalization leaves countless people feeling more marginalized, uprooted, and existentially threatened, she argues that such "Jewish" feelings are becoming increasingly common to us all.
Ranging from Franz Kafka to Philip Roth, Sarah Bernhardt to Woody Allen, Anne Frank to Nathan Englander, Feeling Jewish bridges the usual fault lines between left and right, insider and outsider, Jew and Gentile, and even Semite and anti-Semite, to offer an indispensable guide for our divisive times.
In recent decades, there has been a resurgence of interest among both secular and religious Israelis in Talmudic stories. This growing fascination with Talmudic stories has been inspired by contemporary Israeli writers who have sought to make readers aware of the special qualities of these well-crafted narratives that portray universal human situations, including marriages, relationships between parents and children, power struggles between people, and the challenge of trying to live a good life. The Charm of Wise Hesitancy explores the resurgence of interest in Talmudic stories in Israel and presents some of the most popular Talmudic stories in contemporary Israeli culture, as well as creative interpretations of those stories by Israeli writers, thereby providing readers with an opportunity to consider how these stories may be relevant to their own lives.
Great classic of medieval Judaism, major attempt to reconcile revealed religion (Pentateuch, commentaries) and Aristotelian philosophy. Enormously important in all Western thought. Unabridged Friedlander translation. 50-page introduction. "...a great influence on Jewish and Christian scholasticism."-Jewish Civic Press.
The Jewish religion is grounded in belief about the nature of God and his relation to the world, and this expertly written volume offers an accessible account of the Jewish faith, its core beliefs and practices. It introduces the reader to the God of the Jews, describing his transcendence, omnipotence and goodness, and his eternal covenant with Israel. The main festivals, celebrations and practices are explored in depth, including Sabbaths, home ceremonies and personal piety, as well as rites of passage and Jewish high days and holidays. With over 300 informative photographs, this is a fascinating guide to an immensely rich and complex religion.
This unique Haggada introduces Ethiopian customs into the traditional Haggada as it tells the dramatic story of the Ethiopian Jewish community's journey to Israel in the 1980s and 1990s. Photographs, reproductions of rare documents, and original stories published for the first time bring this contemporary Exodus story to life. Journey to Freedom celebrates Ethiopian Jewish culture, and provides a beautiful opportunity for the Ethiopian community to tell and retell its mportant story.
In a time where radical and extreme religion threatens to destroy the entire world, Rav Kooks spiritual revolution provides a much needed answer, combining a deep love of God with an uncompromising compassion for all human beings. A person who reads the writings of Rav Kook will discover a man who rejected superficial labels of religious verses secular, right wing verses left wing. Rav Kook was one of the most spiritual and open minded thinkers in modern Jewish history. Gods presence in the world was so real to Rav Kook that he believed spirituality must focus on the transformation of the individual, the nation, humanity, and all of existence.
In this vivid memoir, Denis Guenoun excavates his family's past and progressively fills out a portrait of an imposing, enigmatic father. Rene Guenoun was a teacher and a pioneer, and his secret support for Algerian independence was just one of the many things he did not discuss with his teenaged son. To be Algerian, pro-independence, a French citizen, a Jew, and a Communist were not, to Rene's mind, dissonant allegiances. He believed Jews and Arabs were bound by an authentic fraternity and could only realize a free future together. Rene Guenoun called himself a Semite, a word that he felt united Jewish and Arab worlds and best reflected a shared origin. He also believed that Algerians had the same political rights as Frenchmen. Although his Jewish family was rooted in Algeria, he inherited French citizenship and revered the principles of the French Revolution. He taught science in a French lycee in Oran and belonged to the French Communist Party. His steadfast belief in liberty, equality, and fraternity led him into trouble, including prison and exile, yet his failures as an activist never shook his faith in a rational, generous future. Rene Guenoun was drafted to defend Vichy France's colonies in the Middle East during World War II. At the same time, Vichy barred him and his wife from teaching because they were Jewish. When the British conquered Syria, he was sent home to Oran, and in 1943, after the Allies captured Algeria, he joined the Free French Army and fought in Europe. After the war, both parents did their best to reconcile militant unionism and clandestine party activity with the demands of work and family. The Guenouns had little interest in Israel and considered themselves at home in Algeria; yet because he supported Algerian independence, Rene Guenoun outraged his French neighbors and was expelled from Algeria by the French paramilitary Organisation Armee Secrete. He spent his final years in Marseille. Gracefully weaving together youthful memories with research into his father's life and times, Denis Guenoun re-creates an Algerian past that proved lovely, intellectually provocative, and dangerous.
Over the past generation, scholars have devoted increasing attention to the diverse forms that Jewish mysticism has taken both in the past and today: what was once called "nonsense" by Jewish scholars has generated important research and attention both within the academy and beyond, as demonstrated by the popular fascination with figures such as Madonna and Demi Moore and the growing interest in spirituality. In Jewish Mysticism and Kabbalah, leading experts introduce the history of this scholarship as well as the most recent insights and debates that currently animate the field in a way that is accessible to a broad audience. From mystical outpourings in ancient Palestine to the Kabbalah Centre, and from attitudes towards gender to mystical contributions to Jewish messianic movements, this volume explores the various expressions of Jewish mysticism from antiquity to the present day in an engaging style appropriate for students and non-specialists alike.
Jew.The word possesses an uncanny power to provoke and unsettle. For millennia, Jew has signified the consummate Other, a persistent fly in the ointment of Western civilization's grand narratives and cultural projects. Only very recently, however, has Jew been reclaimed as a term of self-identification and pride. With these insights as a point of departure, this book offers a wide-ranging exploration of the key word Jew - a term that lies not only at the heart of Jewish experience, but indeed at the core of Western civilization. Examining scholarly debates about the origins and early meanings of Jew, Cynthia M. Baker interrogates categories like ethnicity, race, and religion that inevitably feature in attempts to define the word. Tracing the term's evolution, she also illuminates its many contradictions, revealing how Jew has served as a marker of materialism and intellectualism, socialism and capitalism, worldly cosmopolitanism and clannish parochialism, chosen status, and accursed stigma. Baker proceeds to explore the complex challenges that attend the modern appropriation of Jew as a term of self-identification, with forays into Yiddish language and culture, as well as meditations on Jew-as-identity by contemporary public intellectuals. Finally, by tracing the phrase new Jews through a range of contexts - including the early Zionist movement, current debates about Muslim immigration to Europe, and recent sociological studies in the United States - the book provides a glimpse of what the word Jew is coming to mean in an era of Internet cultures, genetic sequencing, precarious nationalisms, and proliferating identities.
The messianic festivals are the Biblical rituals God commanded the ancient Israelites to observe. These ancient rites give great detail on the first coming of the Messiah including the date on which He would arrive, the manner of His death, and the birth of His church. You will also learn of the many disasters that befell the Jews though the centuries on the ninth of Av. The rituals speak of a Natzal, or rapture of believers, and a terrible time called the Yamin Noraim. They give a rather complete outline of this seven-year tribulation period, including the rise of a false messiah. They also tell of a time when the earth will be at peace in the Messianic Kingdom. In addition to the seven messianic festivals, you will learn the prophetic outline of other ceremonies like Hanukkah, the new moon ceremony, the wedding ceremony, the ashes of the red heifer, and the ancient origins of Halloween. You will also learn of other prophetical types and shadows mentioned in the Bible. Brought to you by Biblefacts Ministries, Biblefacts.org
Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav (1772-1810) is widely considered to be one of the foremost visionary storytellers of the Hasidic movement. The great-grandson of the Ba'al Shem Tov, founder of the movement, Rabbi Nachman came to be regarded as a great figure and leader in his own right, guiding his followers on a spiritual path inspired by Kabbalah. In the last four years of his life he turned to storytelling, crafting highly imaginative, allegorical tales for his Hasidim. Three-time National Jewish Book Award winner Howard Schwartz has masterfully compiled the most extensive collection of Nachman's stories available in English. In addition to the well-known Thirteen Tales, including "The Lost Princess" and "The Seven Beggars," Schwartz has included over one hundred narratives in the various genres of fairy tales, fables, parables, dreams, and folktales, many of them previously unknown or believed lost. One such story is the carefully guarded "Tale of the Bread," which was never intended to be written down and was only to be shared with those Bratslavers who could be trusted not to reveal it. Eventually recorded by Rabbi Nachman's scribe, the tale has maintained its mythical status as a "hidden story." With utmost reverence and unfettered delight, Schwartz has carefully curated A Palace of Pearls alongside masterful commentary that guides the reader through the Rabbi's spiritual mysticism and uniquely Kabbalistic approach, ultimately revealing Rabbi Nachman to be a literary heavyweight in the vein of Gogol and Kafka. Vibrant, wise, and provocative, this book is a must-read for any lover of fairy tales and fables.
The seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (1902-1994) was perhaps the twentieth century's most well-known Jewish religious leader, best identified for spearheading the world-wide reconstruction of post-Holocaust Jewish religious life and inspiring a re-awakening of Jewish awareness and observance. Overseeing a primarily educational organization in over fifty countries, he addressed a vast range of educational matters in his correspondence, essays and public addresses. This book, the fruit of the author's exhaustive research, closely examines Rabbi Schneerson's substantive corpus and identifies the cohesive educational theory that underlies it. The defining elements of that innovative theory are shown to provide a vision for education that is of practical relevance to communities and individuals far beyond the Jewish community and for the wider world. After illustrating how Rabbi Schneerson's practical agenda is a consequence of his theory, implications of his educational theory for current educational practice and policy in the wider setting are found to frequently surpass the limitations of popular educational thinking about religious and moral education. Cosmic Education illustrates a new, sometimes radical, model of "theosocial" education.
Sabbatai Zevi (1626-76) stirred up the Jewish world of the mid-seventeenth century by claiming to be the messiah, then stunned it by suddenly converting to Islam. His story, and that of the movement he created, is a landmark event in early modern Jewish history and a dramatic example of what can happen when mystic dreams and messianic hopes combine in an explosive mixture. Now, for the first time, English readers can experience these events through the words of those who lived through them, in lucid and compelling translations by a leading authority in the field. Of the contemporary 'testimonies' translated by David J. Halperin, three are accounts by Sabbatai Zevi's followers of the life and deeds of their messiah. These are the Najara Chronicle, an eyewitness narrative which Gershom Scholem called 'one of the most extraordinary documents shedding light on Sabbatai's personality'; Baruch of Arezzo's Memorial to the Children of Israel, a sober yet devout biography of Sabbatai written shortly after his death; and the bizarrely fanciful hagiography composed in 1692 by Abraham Cuenque of Hebron. These narratives by Sabbatean 'believers' are supplemented by two seventeenth-century letters, pungent in their style and colourful in their details, in which Sabbatai and his followers are described by a contemporary rabbi who detested them and everything they stood for. Finally, a reminiscence of Sabbatai's last days, preserved by one of the most independent-minded of his followers, conveys the enigma of the man who was to haunt the generations.
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