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aThis superb collection written by scholars for non-specialists
should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the
most important issues in the contemporary study of the Bible.a
aAn excellent supplementary textbook for survey courses on the
Hebrew Bible or on biblical scholarship.a
In April of 2001, the headline in the "Los Angeles Times" read, aDoubting the Story of the Exodus.a It covered a sermon that had been delivered by the rabbi of a prominent local congregation over the holiday of Passover. In it, he said, aThe truth is that virtually every modern archeologist who has investigated the story of the exodus, with very few exceptions, agrees that the way the Bible describes the exodus is not the way it happened, if it happened at all.a This seeming challenge to the biblical story captivated the local public. Yet as the rabbi himself acknowledged, his sermon contained nothing new. The theories that he described had been common knowledge among biblical scholars for over thirty years, though few people outside of the profession know their relevance.
New understandings concerning the Bible have not filtered down beyond specialists in university settings. There is a need to communicate this research to a wider public of students and educated readers outside of the academy. This volume seeks to meet this need, with accessible and engaging chapters describing how archeology, theology, ancient studies, literary studies, feminist studies, and other disciplines now understand the Bible.
In 1965 the Second Vatican Council declared that God loves the Jews. Before that, the Church had taught for centuries that Jews were cursed by God and, in the 1940s, mostly kept silent as Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis. How did an institution whose wisdom is said to be unchanging undertake one of the most enormous, yet undiscussed, ideological swings in modern history? The radical shift of Vatican II grew out of a buried history, a theological struggle in Central Europe in the years just before the Holocaust, when a small group of Catholic converts (especially former Jew Johannes Oesterreicher and former Protestant Karl Thieme) fought to keep Nazi racism from entering their newfound church. Through decades of engagement, extending from debates in academic journals, to popular education, to lobbying in the corridors of the Vatican, this unlikely duo overcame the most problematic aspect of Catholic history. Their success came not through appeals to morality but rather from a rediscovery of neglected portions of scripture. From Enemy to Brother illuminates the baffling silence of the Catholic Church during the Holocaust, showing how the ancient teaching of deicide - according to which the Jews were condemned to suffer until they turned to Christ - constituted the Church's only language to talk about the Jews. As he explores the process of theological change, John Connelly moves from the speechless Vatican to those Catholics who endeavored to find a new language to speak to the Jews on the eve of, and in the shadow of, the Holocaust.
A philosophical case against religious violence We live in an age beset by religiously inspired violence. Terms such as "holy war" are the stock-in-trade of the evening news. But what is the relationship between holiness and violence? Can acts such as murder ever truly be described as holy? In Does Judaism Condone Violence?, Alan Mittleman offers a searching philosophical investigation of such questions in the Jewish tradition. Jewish texts feature episodes of divinely inspired violence, and the position of the Jews as God's chosen people has been invoked to justify violent acts today. Are these justifications valid? Or does our understanding of the holy entail an ethic that argues against violence? Reconstructing the concept of the holy through a philosophical examination of biblical texts, Mittleman finds that the holy and the good are inextricably linked, and that our experience of holiness is authenticated through its moral consequences. Our understanding of the holy develops through reflection on God's creation of the natural world, and our values emerge through our relations with that world. Ultimately, Mittleman concludes, religious justifications for violence cannot be sustained. Lucid and incisive, Does Judaism Condone Violence? is a powerful counterargument to those who claim that the holy is irrational and amoral. With philosophical implications that extend far beyond the Jewish tradition, this book should be read by anyone concerned about the troubling connection between holiness and violence.
Jacob and Esau is a profound new account of two millennia of Jewish European history that, for the first time, integrates the cosmopolitan narrative of the Jewish diaspora with that of traditional Jews and Jewish culture. Malachi Haim Hacohen uses the biblical story of the rival twins, Jacob and Esau, and its subsequent retelling by Christians and Jews throughout the ages as a lens through which to illuminate changing Jewish-Christian relations and the opening and closing of opportunities for Jewish life in Europe. Jacob and Esau tells a new history of a people accustomed for over two-and-a-half millennia to forming relationships, real and imagined, with successive empires but eagerly adapting, in modernity, to the nation-state, and experimenting with both assimilation and Jewish nationalism. In rewriting this history via Jacob and Esau, the book charts two divergent but intersecting Jewish histories that together represent the plurality of Jewish European cultures.
"Kabbalah For Dummies" presents a balanced perspective of Kabbalah as an "umbrella" for a complex assemblage of mystical Jewish teachings and codification techniques. "Kabbalah For Dummies" also shows how Kabbalah simultaneously presents an approach to the study of text, the performance of ritual and the experience of worship, as well as how the reader can apply its teaching to everyday life.
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.
For millennia, two biblical verses have been understood to condemn
sex between men as an act so abhorrent that it is punishable by
death. Traditionally Orthodox Jews, believing the scripture to be
the word of God, have rejected homosexuality in accordance with
this interpretation. In 1999, Rabbi Steven Greenberg challenged
this tradition when he became the first Orthodox rabbi ever to
openly declare his homosexuality.
View the Table of Contents. Read the Introduction.
aMasterfully weaving together stories of adolescent girls based
on an analysis of their diaries, personal letters, and memoirs,
Klapper illuminates the ways these young women grappled with
contradictory feelings about their friends, family, and
future...This compelling narrative deeply enriches our
understanding of the intertwined roles played by gender, ethnicity,
religion, and education in fostering American identity at the turn
of the century.a
aMelissa R. Klapper has succeeded handsomely in surmounting the
hurdles of her topic to create a coherent narrative of cultural
change. She brings to her subject sensitivity to the stress of
adolescence, mastery of her materials, and genuine affection for
the experience of growing up female, Jewish, and American.a
aDrawing on diaries and magazines, historian Klapper recreates the world of Jewish girls in late 19th- and early 20th-century America. . . . This book's charm lies in its innovative and engaging focus on girlhood. Klapper . . . offers grace notes to a familiar narrative about the tensions between assimilation and tradition.a--"Publishers Weekly"
"Provides a revealing glimpse into the lives of adolescent girls
at the turn of the century. Klapper's exhaustive search for the
diaries of young Jewish women has produced a harvest of insights
into their relationships to religion, to education, to domestic
lives, and to girl culture."
"Melissa Klapper's pioneering volume, based on an astonishing
wealth of primary sources, uncovers more than wehave ever known
about the upbringing and education of Jewish girls in America from
the Civil War to World War I. Covering everything from religious
education to sex education, it explores what it meant to be a
Jewish girl aged 12-20 during one of the most tumultuous eras in
"Brings to life the lives of the 'ordinary' young women whom we
encounter in these pages. By exploring the diaries of Jewish girls
who used these private and personal sources to think about their
conflicting ideas about identities, families, and futures, Melissa
Klapper has shown them to be historical actors, and as such
anything but ordinary. By combining intellectual matters of several
literatures-the history of education, women's history, American
Jewish history, the history of the United States over the course of
a crucial six decade period-Klapper has made a substantial
contribution to our understanding of the past and those who peopled
"Klapper offers a thoughtful book on subjects too often ignored
in both the literature of Jewish-Americans and of American
Jewish Girls Coming of Age in America, 1860-1920 draws on a wealth of archival material, much of which has never been published--or even read--to illuminate the ways in which Jewish girls' adolescent experiences reflected larger issues relating to gender, ethnicity, religion, and education.
Klapper explores the dual roles girls played as agents ofacculturation and guardians of tradition. Their search for an identity as American girls that would not require the abandonment of Jewish tradition and culture mirrored the struggle of their families and communities for integration into American society.
While focusing on their lives as girls, not the adults they would later become, Klapper draws on the papers of such figures as Henrietta Szold, founder of Hadassah; Edna Ferber, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Showboat; and Marie Syrkin, literary critic and Zionist. Klapper also analyzes the diaries, memoirs, and letters of hundreds of other girls whose later lives and experiences have been lost to history.
Told in an engaging style and filled with colorful quotes, the book brings to life a neglected group of fascinating historical figures during a pivotal moment in the development of gender roles, adolescence, and the modern American Jewish community.
The Koren Masorat HaRav Kinot provides the complete Tisha B'Av Service and with an exceptional commentary by seminal scholar and leader, "The Rav," Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. Rabbi Soloveitchik's towering intellect shines through the commentary, which is based upon transcripts of his learning sessions. His exceptional insights and analyses of the themes and contemporary significance of Tisha B'Av are complemented by a new English translation of Kinot by Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb and Binyamin Shalom and an eloquent English translation of the tefilla by Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks. Edited by Rabbi Simon Poser; published in cooperation with the Orthodox Union.
Chanting the Hebrew Bible provides a fine history of the tradition and offers a comprehensive explanation of the practice, an explanation of regional variations and grammatical rules, and shows how chanting dramatizes and interprets the meaning within the biblical text. In addition, Joshua R. Jacobson shares his unique system of notation and supplies extensive examples of musical notation. Errata Producing a book as expansive and detailed as Chanting the Hebrew Bible was a big undertaking, and author Joshua Jacobson and JPS are very proud of this remarkable book. We feel sure that it will be the most important reference in its field for years to come.
The Jewish practice of bar mitzvah dates back to the twelfth century, but this ancient cultural ritual has changed radically since then, evolving with the times and adapting to local conditions. For many Jewish-American families, a child's bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah is both a major social event and a symbolic means of asserting the family's ongoing connection to the core values of Judaism. Coming of Age in Jewish America takes an inside look at bar and bat mitzvahs in the twenty-first century, examining how the practices have continued to morph and exploring how they serve as a sometimes shaky bridge between the values of contemporary American culture and Judaic tradition. Interviewing over 200 individuals involved in bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies, from family members to religious educators to rabbis, Patricia Keer Munro presents a candid portrait of the conflicts that often emerge and the negotiations that ensue. In the course of her study, she charts how this ritual is rife with contradictions; it is a private family event and a public community activity, and for the child, it is both an educational process and a high-stakes performance. Through detailed observations of Conservative, Orthodox, Reform, and independent congregations in the San Francisco Bay Area, Munro draws intriguing, broad-reaching conclusions about both the current state and likely future of American Judaism. In the process, she shows not only how American Jews have forged a unique set of bar and bat mitzvah practices, but also how these rituals continue to shape a distinctive Jewish-American identity.
State and Religion in Israel begins with a philosophical analysis of the two main questions regarding the role of religion in liberal states: should such states institute a 'Wall of Separation' between state and religion? Should they offer religious practices and religious communities special protection? Gideon Sapir and Daniel Statman argue that liberalism in not committed to Separation, but is committed to granting religion a unique protection, albeit a narrower one than often assumed. They then use Israel as a case study for their conclusions. Although Israel is defined as a Jewish state, its Jewish identity need not be interpreted religiously, requiring that it subjects itself to the dictates of Jewish law (Halakha). The authors test this view by critically examining important topics relevant to state and religion in Israel: marriage and divorce, the drafting of yeshiva students into the army, the character of the Sabbath and more.
This new series presents innovative titles pertaining to human origins, evolution, and behavior from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Subject areas include but are not limited to biological and physical anthropology, prehistoric archaeology, evolutionary psychology, behavioral ecology, and evolutionary biology. The series volumes will be of interest primarily to students and scholars in these fields.
Human bodily existence is at the core of the Torah and the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures -- from birth to death. From God's creation of Adam out of clay, to the narratives of priests and kings whose regulations governed bodily practices, the Hebrew Bible focuses on the human body. Moreover, ancient Israel's understanding of the human body has greatly influenced both Judaism and Christianity. Despite this pervasive influence, ancient Israel's view of the human body has rarely been studied and, until now, has been poorly understood.
In this beautifully written book, Jon L. Berquist guides the reader through the Hebrew Bible, examining ancient Israel's ideas of the body, the unstable roles of gender, the deployment of sexuality, and the cultural practices of the time. Conducting his analysis with reference to contemporary theories of the body, power, and social control, Berquist offers not only a description and clarification of ancient Israelite views of the body, but also an analysis of how these views belong to the complex logic of ancient social meanings. When this logic is understood, the familiar Bible becomes strange and opens itself to a wide range of new interpretations.
Offering a penetrating view of Jewish society and culture, the essays in this volume shed light on a little-known chapter of Jewish history. Written by scholars from Israel, Turkey, Europe and the United States, it presents a broad historical canvas that brings together different perspectives and viewpoints. Its contents include essays on: the foundations of Ottaman-Jewish cooperation; Rabbinic literature in the late Byzantine and early Ottoman periods; Jewish contributions to Ottoman medicine between 1450 and 1800; and Jewish female education in the Ottoman Empire between 1840 and 1914.
The office of rabbi is the most visible symbol of power and prestige in Jewish communities. Rabbis both interpret to their congregations the requirements of Jewish life and instruct congregants in how best to live this life. Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation documents a monumental change in Jewish life as eighteen lesbian rabbis reflect on their experiences as trailblazers in Judaism's journey into an increasingly multicultural world. In frank and revealing essays, the contributors discuss their decisions to become rabbis and describe their experiences both at the seminaries and in their rabbinical positions. They also reflect on the dilemma whether to conceal or reveal their sexual identities to their congregants and superiors, or to serve specifically gay and lesbian congregations. The contributors consider the tensions between lesbian identity and Jewish identity, and inquire whether there are particularly ""lesbian"" readings of traditional texts. These essays also ask how the language of Jewish tradition touches the lives of lesbians and how lesbianism challenges traditional notions of the Jewish family. ""'Today I am completely 'out' personally and professionally, and yet I have learned that the 'coming out' process never ends. Even today, I find myself in professional situations in which yet again I must reveal that I am a lesbian, yet again I must prove myself worthy of functioning professionally in the 'straight' world. I still encounter moments of awkwardness, some hostility, and some sense of exclusion as I negotiate the pathways of my professional life.""-Rabbi Leila Gal Berner, from Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation
"The Bedside Torah" guides you into the wisdom, counsel, and holiness of the sacred text that is the center of Jewish spirituality. Rabbi Bradley Artson, one of the truly inspirational and knowledgeable teachers of Torah of our time, weaves together the insights of ancient rabbis and sages, medieval commentators and philosophers, and modern scholars and religious leaders. The reflections in this collection offer three different commentaries on each of the 50 Torah portions, enlightening you into the Torah's infinite layers of meaning and offering opportunities to discover interpretations of your own..
""The Bedside Torah" is an introduction to Jewish text study
that is both learned and engaging . . . The language is
conversational, the insights provocative, and the chapters are just
the right length for reading before an inspired night's
"Bradley Artson is one of the most insightful and articulate
rabbis of his generation, as this volume clearly attests."
"In "The Bedside Torah," Rabbi Artson combines wisdom garnered
from traditional Jewish sources and commentaries with anecdotes and
insights drawn from his own life as well as the lives of all those
he has served. In so doing, he has turned each weekly Torah portion
into a series of revelations for the reader. "The Bedside Torah" is
a treasure that will surely enrich the religious life of Jews as
well as all those who seek comfort and guidance from Jewish
Twenty years in the making, this landmark work -- the first comprehensive commentary on the Haftarot -- includes a full introduction of the history of the Torah and haftarah readings and their interrelationships. Each haftarah features historical, literary, and theological information, as well as a detailed commentary on terms, themes, and language. Materials from the ancient Near East, the full range of rabbinic literature and medieval commentaries, and modern scholarship are utilized. Many other features expand the usefulness and uniqueness of this book. This unparalleled volume belongs in the library of every rabbi and every synagogue. It is an excellent choice for synagogue study groups and day schools with prophets as a curriculum feature. Scholars, laypersons, and religious leaders will also want to add this book to their collections. The volume is a model of clarity, with numerous literary and spiritual insights.
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