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In This Hour offers the first English translations of selected German writings by Abraham Joshua Heschel from his tumultuous years in Nazi-ruled Germany and months in London exile, before he found refuge in the United States. Moreover, several of the works have never been published in any language. Composed during a time of intense crisis for European Jewry, these writings both argue for and exemplify a powerful vision of spiritually rich Jewish learning and its redemptive role in the past and the future of the Jewish people. The collection opens with the text of a speech in which Heschel laid out with passion his vision for Jewish education. Then it goes on to present his teachings: a set of essays about the rabbis of the Mishnaic period, whose struggles paralleled those of his own time; the biography of the medieval Jewish scholar and leader Don Yitzhak Abravanel; reflections on the power and meaning of repentance, written for the High Holidays in 1936; and a short story on Jewish exile, written for Hanukkah 1937. The collection closes with a set of four recently discovered meditations-on suffering, prayer, spirituality, and God-in which Heschel grapples with the horrors unfolding around him. Taken together, these essays and story fill a significant void in Heschel's bibliography: his Nazi Germany and London exile years. These translations convey the spare elegance of Heschel's prose, and the introduction and detailed notes make the volume accessible to readers of all knowledge levels. As Heschel teaches history, his voice is more than that of a historian: the old becomes new, and the struggles of one era shed light on another. Even as Heschel quotes ancient sources, his words address the issues of his own time and speak urgently to ours.
The environmental crisis has prompted religious leaders and lay people to look to their traditions for resources to respond to environmental degradation. In this book, Mari Joerstad contributes to this effort by examining an ignored feature of the Hebrew Bible: its attribution of activity and affect to trees, fields, soil, and mountains. The Bible presents a social cosmos, in which humans are one kind of person among many. Using a combination of the tools of biblical studies and anthropological writings on animism, Joerstad traces the activity of non-animal nature through the canon. She shows how biblical writers go beyond sustainable development, asking us to be good neighbors to mountains and trees, and to be generous to our fields and vineyards. They envision human communities that are sources of joy to plants and animals. The Biblical writers' attention to inhabited spaces is particularly salient for contemporary environmental ethics in their insistence that our cities, suburbs, and villages contribute to flourishing landscapes.
There has been a disturbing rise in antisemitism in Europe over the last fifteen years or so, with violent attacks on Jewish targets, increased verbal antisemitism, and an acceptability in many circles of what would hitherto have been condemned as outrageous antisemitic discourse. More recently, the Labour party have come under fire for engaging in antisemitic abuse. Yet despite the dramatic increase in debate and discussion around antisemitism, there is a general sense of confusion about what should and shouldn't be defined as antisemitism - and particularly around criticism of the State of Israel. In this urgently needed book, Rabbi Julia Neuberger uses contemporary examples, along with historical context, to unpack what constitutes antisemitism, building a powerful argument for why it is so crucial that we come to a shared understanding now, and exploring ways of dealing with it.
The Bible is harshly opposed to participation by Israelites in the worship of other nations' gods. Was this strict command to the nation of Israel not to worship other deities extended to other nations? Or was it legitimate and acceptable for other nations to worship their own gods just as Israel worshipped the God of the Covenant?
In The Nations That Know Thee Not, Robert Goldenberg takes a historical look at attitudes towards foreign religions that are found in Israel's scriptures and in post-Biblical Judaism, and he traces an ambivalent attitude toward foreign religions as it developed through the history of Judaism. How did Jewish outlooks on gentile religions vary so much over time? As Jewish acceptance of paganism grew under rabbinic leadership, did Christianity become heir to other, harsher biblical attitudes toward other religions?
Systematically covering the entire range of Jewish literature of antiquity from the Bible through the rabbinic canons, Goldenberg sheds light on the ways in which ancient Jews understood the religious worlds in which they lived.
From the archetypical story of Abraham smashing his father's household idols to God's commandment at Mount Sinai that "You shall have no other gods before Me," the prohibition in Judaism against the worship of idols has been unyielding. Idolatry is conceived as the antithesis to the worship of the invisible, unnamed, and articulate God.
The proscription against using images in worship sets Judaism, together with Islam, apart from all other religious systems. In "Beyond the Graven Image, " Lionel Kochan sets out to explain the reasons for this prohibition and to demonstrate how influential this image-ban has been in determining key aspects of Jewish thinking. The Jewish conceptions of holiness and symbolism, our relationship with God, and the role of memory in religion, he argues, as well as the preference for non- material arts such as music over visual modes of artistic expression within Judaism, have all been profoundly shaped by the prohibition against physical representations of God.
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.
A compelling account of Christianity's Jewish beginnings, from one of the world's leading scholars of ancient religion How did a group of charismatic, apocalyptic Jewish missionaries, working to prepare their world for the impending realization of God's promises to Israel, end up inaugurating a movement that would grow into the gentile church? Committed to Jesus's prophecy--"The Kingdom of God is at hand!"--they were, in their own eyes, history's last generation. But in history's eyes, they became the first Christians. In this electrifying social and intellectual history, Paula Fredriksen answers this question by reconstructing the life of the earliest Jerusalem community. As her account arcs from this group's hopeful celebration of Passover with Jesus, through their bitter controversies that fragmented the movement's midcentury missions, to the city's fiery end in the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, she brings this vibrant apostolic community to life. Fredriksen offers a vivid portrait both of this temple-centered messianic movement and of the bedrock convictions that animated and sustained it.
What does it mean to be a Jewish woman today? To an Orthodox woman, it means living a religious way of life in which serving God totally defines her self-perception and her role as wife and mother. For the secular woman, it means having a sense of belonging, although not necessarily to a specific Jewish community. Most contemporary Jewish women fall somewhere in between, but at the core of all of their identities is a complex interweaving of religious and ethnic elements, a shared history, and a collective memory of periods of prejudice, persecution, wandering, and resettlement.
Focusing on Jewish women in the United States and Britain, Adrienne Baker examines such issues as women's role in religious law, the spectrum of synagogue observance, the mother's role as conveyor of tradition, conversion and inter- faith marriages, and sexuality. In particular, the book examines the impact of feminism on Jewish women and their culture, uncovering the counterinfluences of tradition and new freedoms on women's lives.
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