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Modernity has provided more than enough reason to give up believing in holiness, still we have learned that to give up the struggle to achieve it means that we become less human. As we leave the twentieth century, we discover new reasons to return to old faith. We rediscover an urgent need to defend the sacred, even as our understanding differs from our ancestors. We choose not to retreat from the world, but to struggle within it, to stain ourselves with sin even as we seek to establish the good. from Chapter 13, Humanity
The cataclysm of the Holocaust seems to forbid speech. Yet even in the heart of that darkness, sparks of sacredness were kept alive. From these sparks, Rabbi Edward Feld suggests, Jews and others can renew a faith and find a language that recovers the holy even after experiencing the reign of a Kingdom of Night unimaginable to previous generations.
In a voice that is engaging, often poetic, Rabbi Edward Feld helps the modern reader understand events that span almost 4,000 years of the history of Judaism and the Jewish people. With rare clarity, insight, and gentleness, he offers a thought-provoking yet accessible study of the way tragedy has shaped Jewish history and the self-understanding of Jews.
"The Spirit of Renewal" explores four key events that reshaped religious expression, two ancient and two modern: the Babylonian exile; the Bar Kochba revolution; the Holocaust; and the establishment of the State of Israel.
"The Spirit of Renewal" shows how, even under the most traumatic of circumstances, Judaism survives, renewing itself and flourishing again. This profound and wise meditation opens the way to a powerful new understanding of the nature of God and the spiritual life.
This first comprehensive biography of Jewish American writer and humorist Harry Golden (1903-1981)-author of the 1958 national best-seller Only in America-illuminates a remarkable life intertwined with the rise of the civil rights movement, Jewish popular culture, and the sometimes precarious position of Jews in the South and across America during the 1950s. After recounting Golden's childhood on New York's Lower East Side, Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett points to his stint in prison as a young man, after a widely publicized conviction for investment fraud during the Great Depression, as the root of his empathy for the underdog in any story. During World War II, the cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur landed in Charlotte, North Carolina, and founded the Carolina Israelite newspaper, which was published into the 1960s. Golden's writings on race relations and equal rights attracted a huge popular readership. Golden used his celebrity to editorialize for civil rights as the momentous story unfolded. He charmed his way into friendships and lively correspondence with Carl Sandburg, Adlai Stevenson, Robert Kennedy, and Billy Graham, among other notable Americans, and he appeared on the Tonight Show as well as other national television programs. Hartnett's spirited chronicle captures Golden's message of social inclusion for a new audience today.
Thanks to these generous donors for making the publication of the books in this series possible: Lloyd E. Cotsen; The Maurice Amado Foundation; the National Endowment for the Humanities; and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. Tales from the Sephardic Dispersion begins the most important collection of Jewish folktales ever published. It is the first volume in Folktales of the Jews, the five-volume series to be released over the next several years, in the tradition of Louis Ginzberg's classic, Legends of the Jews. The 71 tales here and the others in this series have been selected from the Israel Folktale Archives (IFA), named in Honor of Dov Noy, at The University of Haifa, a treasure house of Jewish lore that has remained largely unavailable to the entire world until now. Since the creation of the State of Israel, the IFA has collected more than 20,000 tales from newly arrived immigrants, long-lost stories shared by their families from around the world. The tales come from the major ethno-linguistic communities of the Jewish world and are representative of a wide variety of subjects and motifs, especially rich in Jewish content and context. Each of the tales is accompanied by in-depth commentary that explains the tale's cultural, historical, and literary background and its similarity to other tales in the IFA collection, and extensive scholarly notes. There is also an introduction that describes the Sephardic culture and its folk narrative tradition, a world map of the areas covered, illustrations, biographies of the collectors and narrators, tale type and motif indexes, a subject index, and a comprehensive bibliography. Until the establishment of the IFA, we had had only limited access to the wide range of Jewish folk narratives. Even in Israel, the gathering place of the most wide-ranging cross-section of world Jewry, these folktales have remained largely unknown. Many of the communities no longer exist as cohesive societies in their representative lands; the Holocaust, migration, and changes in living styles have made the continuation of these tales impossible. This volume and the others to come will be monuments to a rich but vanishing oral tradition.
Nexus is the official publication of the biennial German Jewish Studies Workshop at Duke University, the first ongoing forum in North America for German Jewish studies. It publishes innovative research in German Jewish Studies and serves as a venue for introducing new directions in the field, analyzing the development and definition of the field itself, and considering the place of German Jewish Studies within the disciplines of both German Studies and Jewish Studies. Additionally, it examines issues of pedagogy and programming at the undergraduate, graduate, and community levels. The second volume of Nexus presents a special forum section on the controversial German Jewish religious historian Hans-Joachim Schoeps (1909-80), including contributions by Julius H. Schoeps, Hans J. Hillerbrand, Eric M. Meyers, Laura Lieber, Noah B. Strote, and Paul Reitter, as well as cutting-edge essays that highlight important new developments in the field of German Jewish Studies. Contributors: Nick Block, Abigail Gillman, Anton Hieke, Hans J. Hillerbrand, Martin Kagel, Richard S. Levy, Laura Lieber, Eric M. Meyers, Andrea Reiter, Paul Reitter, Julius H. Schoeps, Noah B. Strote, Karina von Tippelskirch. William C. Donahue is Bishop-MacDermott Family Professor of Germanic Languages & Literature, and Professor, Program in Literature and Jewish Studies, Duke University. Martha B. Helfer is Professor of German and an affiliate member of the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
Universal equality is a treasured political concept in France, but recent anxiety over the country's Muslim minority has led to an emphasis on a new form of universalism, one promoting loyalty to the nation at the expense of all ethnic and religious affiliations. This timely book offers a fresh perspective on the debate by showing that French equality has not always demanded an erasure of differences. Through close and contextualized readings of the way that major novelists, philosophers, filmmakers, and political figures have struggled with the question of integrating Jews into French society, Maurice Samuels draws lessons about how the French have often understood the universal in relation to the particular. Samuels demonstrates that Jewish difference has always been essential to the elaboration of French universalism, whether as its foil or as proof of its reach. He traces the development of this discourse through key moments in French history, from debates over granting Jews civil rights during the Revolution, through the Dreyfus Affair and Vichy, and up to the rise of a "new antisemitism" in recent years. By recovering the forgotten history of a more open, pluralistic form of French universalism, Samuels points toward new ways of moving beyond current ethnic and religious dilemmas and argues for a more inclusive view of what constitutes political discourse in France.
An essay on Black-Jewish relations, primarily in the United States, by a professor of African American History who became embroiled in controversy over his classroom use of a book detailing the well- documented Jewish role in the Atlantic slave trade.
The Jewish Onslaught discusses, among other things, the increasing attacks of Jewish organizations on Black leaders and scholars, the alleged halcyon period of a Black-Jewish alliance, the Jewish role in the slave trade and the Jewish attack on Afrocentrism.
An essential account of America's most controversial alliance that reveals how the United States came to see Israel as an extension of itself, and how that strong and divisive partnership plays out in our own time. Our American Israel tells the story of how a Jewish state in the Middle East came to resonate profoundly with a broad range of Americans in the twentieth century. Beginning with debates about Zionism after World War II, Israel's identity has been entangled with America's belief in its own exceptional nature. Now, in the twenty-first century, Amy Kaplan challenges the associations underlying this special alliance. Through popular narratives expressed in news media, fiction, and film, a shared sense of identity emerged from the two nations' histories as settler societies. Americans projected their own origin myths onto Israel: the biblical promised land, the open frontier, the refuge for immigrants, the revolt against colonialism. Israel assumed a mantle of moral authority, based on its image as an "invincible victim," a nation of intrepid warriors and concentration camp survivors. This paradox persisted long after the Six-Day War, when the United States rallied behind a story of the Israeli David subduing the Arab Goliath. The image of the underdog shattered when Israel invaded Lebanon and Palestinians rose up against the occupation. Israel's military was strongly censured around the world, including notes of dissent in the United States. Rather than a symbol of justice, Israel became a model of military strength and technological ingenuity. In America today, Israel's political realities pose difficult challenges. Turning a critical eye on the turbulent history that bound the two nations together, Kaplan unearths the roots of present controversies that may well divide them in the future.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as German Jews struggled for legal emancipation and social acceptance, they also embarked on a program of cultural renewal, two key dimensions of which were distancing themselves from their fellow Ashkenazim in Poland and giving a special place to the Sephardim of medieval Spain. Where they saw Ashkenazic Jewry as insular and backward, a result of Christian persecution, they depicted the Sephardim as worldly, morally and intellectually superior, and beautiful, products of the tolerant Muslim environment in which they lived. In this elegantly written book, John Efron looks in depth at the special allure Sephardic aesthetics held for German Jewry. Efron examines how German Jews idealized the sound of Sephardic Hebrew and the Sephardim's physical and moral beauty, and shows how the allure of the Sephardic found expression in neo-Moorish synagogue architecture, historical novels, and romanticized depictions of Sephardic history. He argues that the shapers of German-Jewish culture imagined medieval Iberian Jewry as an exemplary Jewish community, bound by tradition yet fully at home in the dominant culture of Muslim Spain. Efron argues that the myth of Sephardic superiority was actually an expression of withering self-critique by German Jews who, by seeking to transform Ashkenazic culture and win the acceptance of German society, hoped to enter their own golden age. Stimulating and provocative, this book demonstrates how the goal of this aesthetic self-refashioning was not assimilation but rather the creation of a new form of German-Jewish identity inspired by Sephardic beauty.
In a work of scholarship both erudite and funny, Jeremy Dauber traces the origins of Jewish comedy and its development from biblical times to the age of Twitter. Organising his book thematically into what he calls the seven strands of Jewish comedy (including the Satirical, the Witty and the Vulgar), Dauber explores the ways Jewish comedy has dealt with persecution, assimilation and diaspora through the ages. He explains the rise and fall of popular comic archetypes such as the Jewish mother, the JAP, and the schlemiel and schlimazel. He also explores a range of comic masterpieces, from the Book of Esther, Talmudic rabbi jokes, Yiddish satires, Borscht Belt skits and Seinfeld to the work of such masters as Sholem Aleichem, Franz Kafka, the Marx Brothers, Woody Allen, Joan Rivers, Philip Roth, Sarah Silverman and Jon Stewart.
"A valuable resource for scholars and students of Judaic, Israel, Middle Eastern, and women's studies. There is no single volume currently available that represents such a broad range of historical, political, religious, and cultural approaches to Israeli women. This book will fill that gap for years to come "-Judith R. Baskin, editor of Jewish Women in Historical Perspective "Esther Fuchs is a superb scholar who has created a must-read for academics and the general public alike. Broad public interest in Israel and the Middle East will certainly make this collection of essays on Israeli women a widely-read and important volume."-Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College Israeli women do not enjoy the equality, status, and power often attributed to them by the media and popular culture. Despite significant achievements and progress, as a whole they continue to earn less than their male counterparts, are less visible and influential in the political arena, do not share equal responsibilities or privileges in the military, have unequal rights and freedoms in family life and law, and are less influential in shaping the nation's self image and cultural orientation. Bringing together classic essays by leading scholars of Israeli culture, this reader exposes the hidden causes of ongoing discrimination and links the restrictions that Israeli women experience to deeply entrenched structures, including colonial legacies, religious traditions, capitalism, nationalism, and ongoing political conflict. In contrast, the essays also explore how women act creatively to affect social change and shape public discourse in less ostensible ways. Providing balanced perspectives from the social sciences and the humanities, this comprehensive reader reflects both an emerging consensus and exciting diversity in the field. It is the definitive text for courses in Israeli women's studies. Esther Fuchs is a professor in the department of Near Eastern and Judaic studies at the University of Arizona and the author of Israeli Mythogynies: Women in Contemporary Hebrew Fiction.
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.
Marking the remarkable century of Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, from humble beginnings in London's East End in 1915 to a fully-fledged mainstream art museum, under its banner Art, Identity and Migration, this publication reveals eleven essays covering each aspect of the century's art history in parallel with the effect of emigre and Jewish artists on the cultural mosaic of Britain and Europe. They discuss the museum's world class collection including masterworks by some of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, including Soutine, Chagall, Auerbach, Bomberg, Kitaj and Kossoff. An array of distinguished scholars survey the 'Whitechapel Boys'; Yiddish London, Les Peintres Juifs de L'Ecole de Paris, Official War artists from both conflicts; mid-century emigres influencing the direction of the arts, and contemporary artists making ground-breaking work across new media. They point to this unique collection, primarily of artists born into the Jewish faith, many shaping modern British, European and American art history, representing a distinct visual survey of artistic and social life in Britain and the cultural heritage of British Jewry.
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.
New insights into how the Book of Samuel offers a timeless meditation on the dilemmas of statecraft The Book of Samuel is universally acknowledged as one of the supreme achievements of biblical literature. Yet the book's anonymous author was more than an inspired storyteller. The author was also an uncannily astute observer of political life and the moral compromises and contradictions that the struggle for power inevitably entails. The Beginning of Politics mines the story of Israel's first two kings to unearth a natural history of power, providing a forceful new reading of what is arguably the first and greatest work of Western political thought. Moshe Halbertal and Stephen Holmes show how the beautifully crafted narratives of Saul and David cut to the core of politics, exploring themes that resonate wherever political power is at stake. Through stories such as Saul's madness, David's murder of Uriah, the rape of Tamar, and the rebellion of Absalom, the book's author deepens our understanding not only of the necessity of sovereign rule but also of its costs--to the people it is intended to protect and to those who wield it. What emerges from the meticulous analysis of these narratives includes such themes as the corrosive grip of power on those who hold and compete for power; the ways in which political violence unleashed by the sovereign on his own subjects is rooted in the paranoia of the isolated ruler and the deniability fostered by hierarchical action through proxies; and the intensity with which the tragic conflict between political loyalty and family loyalty explodes when the ruler's bloodline is made into the guarantor of the all-important continuity of sovereign power. The Beginning of Politics is a timely meditation on the dark side of sovereign power and the enduring dilemmas of statecraft.
Anti-Semitism remains a pernicious form of ethnic and religious intolerance and an assault on the fundamentals of human dignity and human rights. Exploring the history of anti-Semitism and providing the first comprehensive examination of the new rampant anti-Jewish sentiment worldwide, Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, offers a crucial discussion of the steps that must be taken to prevent this century from witnessing a replay of the horrors of the last.
The thousands uprooted and displaced by the Holocaust had a profound cultural impact on the countries in which they sought refuge, with numerous Holocaust escapees attaining prominence as scientists, writers, filmmakers and artists. But what is less well known is the way in which this refugee diaspora shaped the scholarly culture of their new-found homes and international policy. In this unique work, David Simon explores the pioneering role played by mostly Jewish refugee scholars in the creation of development studies and practice following the Second World War, and what we can learn about the discipline by examining the social and intellectual history of its early practitioners. Through in-depth interviews with key figures and their relatives, Simon considers how the escapees' experiences impacted their scholarship, showing how they played a key role in shaping their belief that `development' really did hold the potential to make a better world, free from the horrors of war, genocide and discrimination they had experienced under Nazi rule. In the process, he casts valuable new light on the origins and evolution of development studies, policy and practice from this formative postwar period to the present.
Carol V Davis is the granddaughter of Jewish immigrants from Russia. Her fascination with Russia, aided by a Fulbright grant, drew her to St Petersburg in the mid 1990s. Over the next decade, she divided her time between the US and Russia, where, as an American-born Jew, she was an outsider in Russian society. This collection of poems expresses the struggle with language barriers and cultural differences - struggles heightened as Davis helped her children adjust to their new daily life. Inspired by Russia's rich history, its economic changes, and landscape, these poems express a unique perspective of Russia.
If there was one person who could be said to light the touch-paper for the epochal transformation of European religion and culture that we now call the Reformation, it was Martin Luther. And Luther and his followers were to play a central role in the Protestant world that was to emerge from the Reformation process, both in Germany and the wider world. In all senses of the term, this religious pioneer was a huge figure in European history. Yet there is also the very uncomfortable but at the same time undeniable fact that he was an anti-semite. Written by one of the world's leading authorities on the Reformation, this is the vexed and sometimes shocking story of Martin Luther's increasingly vitriolic attitude towards the Jews over the course of his lifetime, set against the backdrop of a world in religious turmoil. A final chapter then reflects on the extent to which the legacy of Luther's anti-semitism was to taint the Lutheran church over the following centuries. Scheduled for publication on the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation's birth, in light of the subsequent course of German history it is a tale both sobering and ominous in equal measure.
From what israel means to me
"The Mediterranean landscape, the exuberance of the Israelis,
the way politics is a matter of life and death there--all these
things beguiled me."
"Israel is part of me, and I am part of Israel."
"Wholly apart from my feelings as a Jew, strong support for
Israel is the logical consequence of my political
"What does Israel mean to me? Courage. The Israelis have more
courage in their pinky finger than I have in my whole life."
"It is an unparalleled story of tenacity and determination, of
courage and renewal. And it is ultimately a metaphor for the
triumph and enduring hope over the temptation of despair."
"I have no desire to be like everyone else. Something in me
wants the entry of the Jewish people into world politics to be
judged by the highest conceivable measure. Indeed, that may be what
is both so inspiring and confounding about the existence of
"Israel isn't a symbol. Israel is the practical manifestation of
hope, freedom, and self-determination."
"Israel is a free society. The rights of the minority, of the
oppressed, indeed, of the criminally foolish are protected."
"Having the ability to shape our lives as Jews, to defend them
and fulfill them, that is what Israel means to me."
By the eve of the Holocaust, Poland was home to the second largest Jewish population in the world. By war's end, its Jews had been decimated and their once-vibrant culture all but destroyed. The authors of this book revisit their roots to research a rumor that Jewish life is being rekindled in modern Poland. What they discover are three generations of Jews -- Holocaust survivors and their offspring -- with differing historical perspectives.
A sociocultural portrait -- through interview, photography, reportage, and personal memoir -- of the Jewish resurgence that has taken place since the fall of the communist regime in 1989. Who Will Say Kaddish? shows how each group explores the issue of "Jewish" identity for themselves and for Poland at large.
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
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