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What is the role of Judaism and Jewish existence in America? And what role does America play in matters Jewish? This anthology considers these questions and offers a look at how the diverse body of Jewish thought developed within the historical and intellectual context of America. In this volume, editors Michael Marmur and David Ellenson bring together the distinctive voices of those who have shaped the bold and shifting soundscape of American Jewish thought over the last few generations. The contributors tackle an array of topics including theological questions; loyalty and belonging; the significance of halakhic, spiritual, and ritual practice; secularization and its discontents; and the creative recasting of Jewish peoplehood. The editors are careful to point out how a plurality of approaches emerged in response to the fundamental ruptures and challenges of continuity posed by the Holocaust, the establishment of the state of Israel, and the civil rights movement in the twentieth century. This volume also includes a wide swath of the most distinctive currents and movements over the last eighty years: post-Holocaust theology, secular forms of Jewish spirituality, ultra-orthodoxy, American neo-orthodoxy, neo-Hasidism, feminism and queer theory, diasporist critiques of Zionism, and Zionist militancy. This collection will serve as both a testament to the creativity of American Jewish thought so far, and as an inspiration for the new thinkers of its still unwritten future.
A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax introduces and abridges the syntactical features of the original language of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. An intermediate-level reference grammar for Biblical Hebrew, it assumes an understanding of elementary phonology and morphology, and it defines and illustrates the fundamental syntactical features of Biblical Hebrew that most intermediate-level readers struggle to master. The volume divides Biblical Hebrew syntax and morphology into four parts. The first three cover the individual words (nouns, verbs, and particles) with the goal of helping the reader move from morphological and syntactical observations to meaning and significance. The fourth section moves beyond phrase-level phenomena and considers the larger relationships of clauses and sentences. Since publication of the first edition, research on Biblical Hebrew syntax has substantially evolved. This new edition incorporates these developments through detailed descriptions of grammatical phenomena from a linguistics approach. It retains the labels and terminology used in the first edition to maintain continuity with the majority of entry-level and more advanced grammars.
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.
During the first half of the twentieth century, nationalizing processes in Europe and Palestine reshaped observant Jewry into two distinct societies, ultra-Orthodoxy and national-religious Judaism. Tracing the dynamics between the two most influential Orthodox political movements of the period, from their early years through the founding of the State of Israel, Daniel Mahla examines the crucial role that religio-political entrepreneurs played in these developments. He frames the contest between non-Zionist Agudat Yisrael and religious-Zionist Mizrahi as the product of wide-ranging social and cultural struggles within Orthodox Judaism and demonstrates that at the core of their conflict lay deep tensions between rabbinic authority and political activism. While Orthodoxy's encounter with modern Jewish nationalism is often cast as a confrontation between religious and secular forces, this book highlights the significance of intra-religious competition for observant Jewry's transition to the age of the nation state and beyond.
This volume explores the aesthetic dimensions of biblical poetry, offering close readings of poems across the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Composed of essays by fifteen leading scholars of biblical poetry, it offers creative and insightful close readings of poems from across the canon of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (Psalms, wisdom poetry, Song of Songs, prophecy, and poetry in biblical narrative). The essays build on recent advances in our understanding of biblical poetry and engage a variety of theoretical perspectives and current trends in the study of literature. They demonstrate the rewards of careful attention to textual detail, and they provide models of the practice of close reading for students, scholars, and general readers. They also highlight the rich aesthetic value of the biblical poetic corpus and offer reflection on the nature of poetry itself as a meaningful and enduring form of art.
"This book features a CD of rarely performed music, including a specially commissioned rap by Erik Weiner of Walter Benjamin's "Thesis on the Philosophy of History." "
Theodor W. Adorno was the prototypical German Jewish non-Jew, Walter Benjamin vacillated between German Jew and Jewish German, Gershom Scholem was a committed Zionist, and Arnold Sch?nberg converted to Protestantism for professional reasons but later returned to Judaism. Carl Djerassi, himself a refugee from Hitler's Austria, dramatizes a dialogue between these four men in which they discuss fraternity, religious identity, and legacy as well as reveal aspects of their lives-notably their relations with their wives-that many have ignored, underemphasized, or misrepresented.
The desire for canonization and the process by which it is obtained are the underlying themes of this dialogue, with emphasis on Paul Klee's "Angelus Novus "(1920), a canonized work that resonated deeply with Benjamin, Adorno, and Scholem (and for which Djerassi and Gabrielle Seethaler present a revisionist and richly illustrated interpretation). Basing his dialogue on extensive archival research and interviews, Djerassi concludes with a daring speculation on the putative contents of Benjamin's famous briefcase, which disappeared upon his suicide.
This book is a scholarly examination of the political thought of Rabbi Meir (Maharam) of Rothenburg, the most important thirteenth century German Rabbi who was associated with the Pietist movement of the period. From the Maharam's responsa on community matters, a coherent political thought emerges that exercised nearly unprecedented influence on European Jewish communities up to the Jewish Emancipation. Rabbi Meir's extremely sophisticated attempt to balance the demands of the community against those of the individual was facilitated by a characteristic three-tiered structure to his political thought: concrete legal rules supported by value-laden legal principles built upon his general religious ideology. Through a systematic analysis of the Maharam's political thought, Isaac Lifshitz offers an original contribution to Jewish studies, political theory, and the study of legal philosophy. By considering the legal and theological underpinnings of one of Medieval Jewry's most influential figures, it also makes a contribution to the history of ideas in the Medieval period.
Rashi, the medieval French rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105), authored monumental commentaries on the Hebrew Bible and the Babylonian Talmud. With The JPS Rashi Discussion Torah Commentary, his commentary on the Torah-regarded as the most authoritative of all Torah commentaries-is finally accessible to the entire Jewish community. Steven and Sarah Levy quote from the biblical text in both Hebrew and English, highlight Rashi's comments relating to the parashah, and delve into his perceptive moral messages in the context of twenty-first-century dilemmas. Each portion features three essays with analysis and discussion questions that draw on universal human experiences, enabling families and Shabbat study groups to deepen their understanding of Rashi and the portion over the three Sabbath meals. Readers with little or no knowledge of Hebrew, the Torah, or Jewish practice will feel comfortable diving into this discussion commentary. All Hebrew terms are defined, quoted verses contextualized, and less familiar Jewish concepts explained.
Empire-critical and postcolonial readings of Revelation are now commonplace, but scholars have not yet put these views into conversation with Jewish trauma and cultural survival strategies. In this book, Sarah Emanuel positions Revelation within its ancient Jewish context. Proposing a new reading of Revelation, she demonstrates how the text's author, a first century CE Jewish Christ-follower, used humor as a means of resisting Roman power. Emanuel uses multiple critical lenses, including humor, trauma, and postcolonial theory, together with historical-critical methods. These approaches enable a deeper understanding of the Jewishness of the early Christ-centered movement, and how Jews in antiquity related to their cultural and religious identity. Emanuel's volume offers new insights and fills a gap in contemporary scholarship on Revelation and biblical scholarship more broadly.
Why does the story of secret Jews fascinate us? What is crypto-Judaism? In recent decades religious practices that were preserved in hiding for centuries have become more widely known. Specifically, families of Spanish Jewish descent have retained elements of Judaism for five hundred years. What incredible religious and cultural tenacity! For many these elements represent a discovered identity that helps to explain mysteries in their lives. Is a person Jewish by genes, cultural heritage, religious practice, or by choice? What survives for a person whose ancestors were Jewish five hundred years ago? Fractured Faiths traces the history of the Sephardic and converso (converted) Jews from their Golden Age to the twenty-first century, in both the land they left behind and in the lands they later settled. Documents, maps, paintings, and objects illuminate the history of Sephardic Jews from Spain to Mexico to New Mexico.
Jewish law is a singular legal system that has been evolving for generations. Often conflated with Biblical law or Israeli law, Jewish law needs to be studied in its own right. An Introduction to Jewish Law expounds the general structure of Jewish law and presents the cardinal principles of this religious legal system. An introduction to modern Jewish law as it applies to the daily life of Jews around the world, this volume presents Jewish law in a way that answers all the questions that a student of comparative law would ask when encountering an unfamiliar legal system. Sources of Jewish law such as revelation, rabbinical and communal legislation, judicial decisions, and legal reasoning are defined and analyzed, and the authority of who decides what Jewish law is and why their decisions are binding is investigated.
An essential biography of one of the Bible's most powerful and inspiring books Exodus is the second book of the Hebrew Bible, but it may rank first in lasting cultural importance. It is here that the classic biblical themes of oppression and redemption, of human enslavement and divine salvation, are most dramatically expressed. Joel Baden tells the story of this influential and enduring book, tracing how its famous account of the Israelites' journey to the promised land has been adopted and adapted for millennia, often in unexpected ways. Baden draws a distinction between the Exodus story and the book itself, which is one of the most multifaceted in the Bible, containing poems, law codes, rituals, and architectural plans. He shows how Exodus brings together an array of oral and written traditions from the ancient Middle East, and how it came to be ritualized in the Passover Seder and the Eucharist. Highlighting the remarkable resilience and flexibility of Exodus, Baden sheds light on how the bestowing of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai divided Jewish and Christian thinkers, on the importance of Exodus during the Reformation and the American Revolution, and on its uses in debates for and against slavery. He also traces how the defining narrative of ancient Israel helped to define Mormon social identity, the American civil rights movement, and liberation theology. Though three thousand years old, the Exodus-as history, as narrative, as metaphor, as model-continues to be vitally important for us today. Here is the essential biography of this incomparable spiritual masterpiece.
Abby Chava Stein was raised in a Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, profoundly isolated in a culture that lives according to the laws and practices of an eighteenth-century Eastern European enclave, speaking only Yiddish and Hebrew and shunning modern life. Stein was born as the first son in a rabbinical dynastic family, poised to become a leader of the next generation of Hasidic Jews. But Stein felt certain at a young age that she was a girl. Without access to TV or the internet and never taught English, she suppressed her desire for a new body while looking for answers wherever she could find them, from forbidden religious texts to smuggled secular examinations of faith. Finally, she orchestrated a personal exodus from ultra-Orthodox manhood into mainstream femininity-a radical choice that forced her to leave her home, her family and her way of life.
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.
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.
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.
You are invited to spend a year with the inspirational words, ideas, and counsel of the great twentieth-century thinker Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, through his meditations on the fifty-four weekly Torah portions and eleven Jewish holidays. A pioneer of ideas and action-teaching that "Judaism is a civilization" encompassing Jewish culture, art, and peoplehood; demonstrating how synagogues can be full centers for Jewish living (building one of the first "shuls with a pool"); and creating the first-ever bat mitzvah ceremony (for his daughter Judith)-Kaplan transformed the landscape of American Jewry. Yet much of Kaplan's rich treasury of ethical and spiritual thought is largely unknown. Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, who studied closely with Kaplan, offers unique insight into Kaplan's teachings about ethical relationships and spiritual fulfillment, including how to embrace godliness in everyday experience, our mandate to become agents of justice in the world, and the human ability to evolve personally and collectively. Quoting from the week's Torah portion, Reuben presents Torah commentary, a related quotation from Kaplan, a reflective commentary integrating Kaplan's understanding of the Torah text, and an intimate story about his family or community's struggles and triumphs-guiding twenty-first-century spiritual seekers of all backgrounds on how to live reflectively and purposefully every day.
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