This book summarizes the Guttman Report and describes how the media and Israeli intellectuals responded to it and imposed their own interpretations. It then analyzes the report in greater detail and puts in global perspective Israeli Jews’ ritual behavior, religious beliefs, and attitudes toward religion in public life. The editors conclude that the religious traditionalism of Israeli Jews is unique among advanced industrial societies. They seek to explain this uniqueness in terms of the particular nature of Israeli society, focusing on Israel’s security problems and suggesting the impact that a new security situation would have on Israeli Jews and how it would reshape the Israeli political map.
Sparking a flurry of heated debate, Hannah Arendt’s authoritative and stunning report on the trial of German Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann first appeared as a series of articles in The New Yorker in 1963. This revised edition includes material that came to light after the trial, as well as Arendt’s postscript directly addressing the controversy that arose over her account. A major journalistic triumph by an intellectual of singular influence, Eichmann in Jerusalem is as shocking as it is informative—an unflinching look at one of the most unsettling (and unsettled) issues of the twentieth century.
This translation is based on Gra version of the Sefer Yetzirah and includes the author's extraordinary commentary on all its mystical aspects including kabbalistic astrology, Ezekiel's vision and the 231 gates. Also included are three alternative versions to make this volume the most complete work on the Sefer Yetzirah available in English.
The Boy presents the stories of three Nazi criminals, ranging in status from SS sergeant to low-ranking SS officer to SS general. It is also the story of two Jewish victims, a teenage girl and a young boy, who encounter these Nazis in Warsaw in the spring of 1943. The book is remarkable in its scope, picking up the lives of these participants in the years preceding World War I and following them to their deaths. One of the Nazis managed to stay at large for twenty-two years. One of the survivors lived long enough to lose a son in the Yom Kippur War. Nearly sixty photographs dispersed throughout help narrate these five lives. And, in keeping with the emotional immediacy of those photographs, Porat has deliberately used a narrative style that, drawing upon extensive research, experience, and oral interviews, places the reader in the middle of unfolding events.
Commemorative in spirit and artistic in form, Auschwitz convincingly portrays the paradoxes of human nature in extreme circumstances. With consummate understatement Nomberg-Przytyk describes the behavior of concentration camp inmates as she relentlessly and pitilessly examines her own motives and feelings. In this world unmitigated cruelty coexisted with nobility, rapacity with self-sacrifice, indifference with selfless compassion. This book offers a chilling view of the human drama that existed in Auschwitz.
From her portraits of camp personalities, an extraordinary and horrifying profile emerges of Dr. Josef Mengele, whose medical experiments resulted in the slaughter of nearly half a million Jews. Nomberg-Przytyk's job as an attendant in Mengle's hospital allowed her to observe this Angel of Death firsthand and to provide us with the most complete description to date of his monstrous activities.
The original Polish manuscript was discovered by Eli Pfefferkorn in 1980 in the Yad Vashem Archive in Jerusalem. Not knowing the fate of the journal's author, Pfefferkorn spent two years searching and finally located Nomberg-Przytyk in Canada. Subsequent interviews revealed the history of the manuscript, the author's background, and brought the journal into perspective.
· A much expanded selection of original documents, many never before anthologised in English
· Added treatment of the role of non-Germans in the Holocaust and the geographical variations in Jewish response
· Additional consideration of the much-debated nexus between the Holocaust and modernity
· A new section on how 'the Holocaust' developed as a distinct historical topic
· Useful and informative Chronology, Who’s Who and Glossary
David Engel’s book is a taut, compact narration that appeals to the intellect as much, if not more, than to the emotions. It is sure to be welcomed by students in departments of History, Politics and European Studies as well as by anyone trying to get to grips with this complex and far-reaching subject for the first time.
With the stated purpose of restoring ethics to its central role in Judaism, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin offers hundreds of examples from the Torah, the Talmud, rabbinic commentaries, and contemporary stories to illustrate how ethical teachings can affect our daily behavior. The subjects dealt with are ones we all encounter. They include judging other people fairly; knowing when forgiveness is obligatory, optional, or forbidden; balancing humility and self-esteem; avoiding speech that shames others; restraining our impulses of envy, hatred, and revenge; valuing truth but knowing when lying is permitted; understanding why God is the ultimate basis of morality; and appreciating the great benefits of Torah study. Telushkin has arranged the book in the traditional style of Jewish codes, with topical chapters and numbered paragraphs. Statements of law are almost invariably followed by anecdotes illustrating how these principles have been, or can be, practiced in daily life. The book can be read straight through to provide a solid grounding in Jewish values, consulted as a reference when facing ethical dilemmas, or studied in a group.
Vast in scope, this volume distills more than three thousand years of Jewish laws and suggestions on how to improve one’s character and become more honest, decent, and just. It is a landmark work of scholarship that is sure to influence the lives of Jews for generations to come, rich with questions to ponder and discuss, but primarily a book to live by.
From the Hardcover edition.
A dramatic shift is taking place in Israel and America. In Israel, the deepening occupation of the West Bank is putting Israeli democracy at risk. In the United States, the refusal of major Jewish organizations to defend democracy in the Jewish state is alienating many young liberal Jews from Zionism itself. In the next generation, the liberal Zionist dream—the dream of a state that safeguards the Jewish people and cherishes democratic ideals—may die.
In The Crisis of Zionism, Peter Beinart lays out in chilling detail the looming danger to Israeli democracy and the American Jewish establishment's refusal to confront it. And he offers a fascinating, groundbreaking portrait of the two leaders at the center of the crisis: Barack Obama, America's first "Jewish president," a man steeped in the liberalism he learned from his many Jewish friends and mentors in Chicago; and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister who considers liberalism the Jewish people's special curse. These two men embody fundamentally different visions not just of American and Israeli national interests but of the mission of the Jewish people itself.
Beinart concludes with provocative proposals for how the relationship between American Jews and Israel must change, and with an eloquent and moving appeal for American Jews to defend the dream of a democratic Jewish state before it is too late.
Rosten described his book as “a relaxed lexicon of Yiddish, Hebrew, and Yinglish words often encountered in English, plus dozens that ought to be, with serendipitous excursions into Jewish humor, habits, holidays, history, religion, ceremonies, folklore, and cuisine–the whole generously garnished with stories, anecdotes, epigrams, Talmudic quotations, folk sayings, and jokes.” To this day, it is considered the seminal work on Yiddish in America–a true classic and a staple in the libraries of Jews and non-Jews alike.
With the recent renaissance of interest in Yiddish, and in keeping with a language that embodies the variety and vibrancy of life itself, The New Joys of Yiddish brings Leo Rosten’s masterful work up to date. Revised for the first time by Lawrence Bush in close consultation with Rosten’s daughters, it retains the spirit of the original–with its wonderful jokes, tidbits of cultural history, Talmudic and Biblical references, and tips on pronunciation–and enhances it with hundreds of new entries, thoughtful commentary on how Yiddish has evolved over the years, and an invaluable new English-to-Yiddish index. In addition, The New Joys of Yiddish includes wondrous and amusing illustrations by renowned artist R.O. Blechman.
From the Hardcover edition.
The Jewish Graphic Novel is a lively, interdisciplinary collection of essays that addresses critically acclaimed works in this subgenre of Jewish literary and artistic culture. Featuring insightful discussions of notable figures in the industry�such as Will Eisner, Art Spiegelman, and Joann Sfar�the essays focus on the how graphic novels are increasingly being used in Holocaust memoir and fiction, and to portray Jewish identity in America and abroad
Featuring more than 85 illustrations, this collection is a compelling representation of a major postmodern ethnic and artistic achievement.
membership in “the tribe” defined by shared religious beliefs? Common
ethnic backgrounds? Familiar holiday practices? Similar tastes in
culture and cuisine? And what do the widely varying answers to those
questions mean for the future of the American Jewish community?
2013, at the suggestion of Jewish Daily Forward editor Jane Eisner, the
Pew Research Center completed the most comprehensive and credible
survey ever conducted among American Jews. Its findings were nothing
short of astounding to communal leaders, demographers and individual
In this new e-book, the venerable Forward – the
premier source of news, analysis and cultural coverage that matters to
the American Jewish community – explains and analyzes the Pew report,
with contributions from its own journalists and a diverse selection of other experts.
sobering and sometimes even amusing, this accessible collection of
articles and essays will inform and enlarge the critical conversation
among American Jews about their communal future.
helpful discussion guide for educators, community and book groups, and
leaders of Jewish organizations.
Jews-to-be often find the steps to Judaism foreign, complex, and mysterious. From learning an ancient language, to entering the mikvah (ritual bath), to choosing a Hebrew name, to circumcision, to appearing before a bet din (Jewish court), becoming a Jew is anything but quick and easy. In this engaging and accessible guide, Reuben and Hanin offer practical wisdom for every step of conversion, including:
telling family and friends selecting a denominationchoosing a rabbiunderstanding Jewish ritualscelebrating Jewish holidaysputting aside childhood holidayskeeping ties to the pastadvice on weddings, raising kids, and more
Throughout, the authors focus on developing a healthy spiritual life, while helping readers understand what it means to be Jewish, absorb Jewish teachings, and live a Jewish life.
This amazing journey through Tibetan Buddhism and Judaism leads Kamenetz to a renewed appreciation of his living Jewish roots.
NEW YORK MAGAZINE No. 706, Wednesday, February 2, 2011, Cultural Page 16 University Professor and Doctor Aurel Sasu, HOMAGE TO THE JEWS FROM THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA, Commentary regarding the volume SALUTE TO THE ROMANIAN JEWS IN AMERICA AND CANADA, 1850-2010: HISTORY, ACHIEVEMENTS, AND BIOGRAPHIES by Vladimir F. Wertsman
The publication of SALUTE TO THE ROMANIAN JEWS IN AMERICA AND CANADA,1850-2010: HISTORY, ACHIEVEMENTS, AND BIOGRAPHIES, XLibris , Bloomington, IN, 2010, 287 pp. by Vladimir F. Wertsman, one of the most valued, respected and dedicated researchers on multiculturalism over the Ocean, was no surprise to anybody in light of the author´s previous triptych: THE ROMANIANS IN AMERICA, 1748-1974: A CHNRONOLOGY AND FACT BOOK(1975), THE ROMANIANS IN AMERICA AND CANADA: A GUIDE TO INFORMTION SOURCES, (1980), and THE ROMANIANS IN THE UNITED STATES ANADA CANADA: A GUIDE TO ANCESTRY AND HERITAGE RESEARCH (2003). All of these titles reflect the author´s older concerns regarding immigration, integration, and identity preserved via the values of organic tradition.
Those who know this passionate book lover (he served many years as senior librarian at the New York Public Library) also know how much he is proud of his Romanian education (he is a graduate of the University "A.I. Cuza" Law School, 1953) and the prestige of Romanian people of culture abroad in whose spirit he was formed. Established in the USA in 1967, the future author did not forget the depth of his primary sources and his Romanian heritage. Regardless how often he appears in the Romanian community, he is admired for his work, advice, and wisdom. His main message is friendship, mutual understanding and respect.
The above mentioned volume on Romanian Jews in America and Canada starts with a "microchronology" of Romania´s two millennia Jewish community going back to the year 70 AD, when some Jews found asylum in Dacia after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. Under King Decebal, Jews are permitted to reside without any restriction. They were merchants, translators, and purveyors, Matei Basarab offers asylum to Hungarian Jews who refused to convert to Catholicism, under Alexander the Good and Stephen the Great, the Jews are free to live in any part of Moldavia. Also, Stephen the Great and his son Bogdan Voda kept Isaac Benjamin Shor as their logofat (chancellor). In the 16th century, first Sephardic communities are mentioned in Bucharest and Craiova, also Jewish stable communities are mentioned in Iasi (with a synagogue and cemetery), Suceava, Botosani, Sibiu, Cluj. Vasile Lupu (17th century) accepts several Jewish doctors and pharmacists at his court, Constantin Brancoveanu will do the same one century later. In 1665, a document mentions that along with Valachians and Serbs there were Jews in Michael the Brave´s Army. Constantin Mavrocordat accords fiscal immunity to Jews settled in Herta, Balti, Orhei, Ocna, and Harlau. From DESCRIPTIO MOLDAVIAE (1717) by Dimitrie Cantemir, we find that Jews could build wooden synagogues without any restrictions. Starting with the 18th century, mixed musical bands (lautari) are formed; they consisted of Romanians, Jews, and Gypsies. After the hardships endured by Jews during the Russian-Turkish War (1769-1774), Alexandru Mavrocordat and Nicolae Mavrogheni accord special protection to the Jewish population. In 1803, there were about 3,000 Jewish families in Moldova, fifty years later, the Jewish population increased to more than 130,000. In the Proclamation of Islaz (1848), the rights of the Jewish community are explicitly mentioned: "the emancipation of the Israelites and political rights for all compatriots of other creeds". In 1852, the first Jewish school is opened in Bucharest, and in 1847 appears ISRAELITUL ROMAN, the first newspaper of the Jewish communities from Moldavia and Walachia
Contributors are Andrej Angrick, Omer Bartov, Karel C. Berkhoff, Ray Brandon, Martin Dean, Dennis Deletant, Frank Golczewski, Alexander Kruglov, Wendy Lower, Dieter Pohl, and Timothy Snyder.
Hasidic women complicate stereotypes of nonliberal religious women by collapsing distinctions between the religious and the secular. In this innovative book, Fader demonstrates that contemporary Hasidic femininity requires women and girls to engage with the secular world around them, protecting Hasidic men and boys who study the Torah. Even as Hasidic religious observance has become more stringent, Hasidic girls have unexpectedly become more fluent in secular modernity. They are fluent Yiddish speakers but switch to English as they grow older; they are increasingly modest but also fashionable; they read fiction and play games like those of mainstream American children but theirs have Orthodox Jewish messages; and they attend private Hasidic schools that freely adapt from North American public and parochial models. Investigating how Hasidic women and girls conceptualize the religious, the secular, and the modern, Mitzvah Girls offers exciting new insights into cultural production and change in nonliberal religious communities.
In alternating first-person narratives, Faiga (Fay) and Luzer (Leo) take readers into their very different but inextricably linked experiences in Nazi-occupied Poland. Faiga, the once-dignified young lady from a good home with servants and a seat by the eastern wall of the synagogue, spends two years wandering the perilous countryside, hoping to be taken for a peasant. Mere miles away, knowing nothing of his sister’s fate, Luzer, the leather wholesaler’s only son, lies silent all day in the stifling dark corner of a barn, where the smell of the cows’ warm hides are a piquant reminder of his lost world. Hidden deftly summons that world, as the familiar comforts and squabbles of life in a well-to-do, religious Jewish family are slowly overwhelmed by the grim news coming out of Germany. We follow Faiga and Luzer through the early forebodings and deprivations of the war, into hiding among righteous Poles and erstwhile neighbors-turned-betrayers, and finally, at war’s end, back once more into the world—but not necessarily into safety. Told in a confident, clear, and unsentimental prose, this is a story of heroism and tragedy writ large and small, of two young people coming of age in a world in chaos and then trying to return to "normal" after experiences as unimaginable as they are unforgettable.
In 1900, in a small Prussian town, a young boy was found murdered, his body dismembered, the blood drained from his limbs. The Christians of the town quickly rose up in violent riots to accuse the Jews of ritual murder—the infamous blood-libel charge that has haunted Jews for centuries. In an absorbing narrative, Helmut Walser Smith reconstructs the murder and the ensuing storm of anti-Semitism that engulfed this otherwise peaceful town. Offering an instructive examination of hatred, bigotry, and mass hysteria, The Butcher's Tale is a modern parable that will be a classic for years to come.
Winner of the Fraenkel Award and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2002.
Arguing that we must take seriously the possibility that the Nazis were in some measure correct, Gimbel examines Einstein and his work to explore how beliefs, background, and environment may—or may not—have influenced the work of the scientist. You cannot understand Einstein’s science, Gimbel declares, without knowing the history, religion, and philosophy that influenced it.
No one, especially Einstein himself, denies Einstein's Jewish heritage, but many are uncomfortable saying that he was being a Jew while he was at his desk working. To understand what "Jewish" means for Einstein’s work, Gimbel first explores the many definitions of "Jewish" and asks whether there are elements of Talmudic thinking apparent in Einstein’s theory of relativity. He applies this line of inquiry to other scientists, including Isaac Newton, René Descartes, Sigmund Freud, and Émile Durkheim, to consider whether their specific religious beliefs or backgrounds manifested in their scientific endeavors.
Einstein's Jewish Science intertwines science, history, philosophy, theology, and politics in fresh and fascinating ways to solve the multifaceted riddle of what religion means—and what it means to science. There are some senses, Gimbel claims, in which Jews can find a special connection to E = mc2, and this claim leads to the engaging, spirited debate at the heart of this book.
The foundation of Hebrew and Jewish religion, thought, law, and society is the Torah-the parchment scroll containing the text of the Five Books of Moses that is located in every synagogue. This accessible guide explains the Torah in clear language, even to those who were not raised in the Jewish religious tradition. Christians who want to know more about the Jewish roots of Christianity need to understand the Torah, as do followers of Islamic tradition and those interested in the roots of Abrahamic faiths. The Torah For Dummies explains the history of the Torah, its structure and major principles, and how the Torah affects the daily lives of people who follow the Jewish way of life.
Given their staggering importance, you would think that all societies, and certainly our educational and religious institutions, would be intent on studying them closely. Sadly, this is not the case. Our schools ignore them and our churches and synagogues take them for granted. But here's a simple test: Who among us can even name all of the Ten Commandments? And even among those who can name them, how many can explain them in a way that makes sense to the modern eye and ear?
If you are a person of faith, this book will strengthen it; if you are agnostic it will force you to rethink your doubts; if you're atheist, it will test your convictions. For people who have thought little about the Ten Commandments, as well as for those who have a sophisticated understanding of them, it will be a revelation.
That's a lot to ask of a little book, but the only thing that's little here is the length. The ideas are very big.
· Dustin Hoffman, Steven Spielberg, Gene Wilder, Joan Rivers, and Leonard Nimoy talk about their startling encounters with anti-Semitism.
· Kenneth Cole, Eliot Spitzer, and Ronald Perelman explore the challenges of intermarriage.
· Mike Wallace, Richard Dreyfuss, and Ruth Reichl express attitudes toward Israel that vary from unquestioning loyalty to complicated ambivalence.
· William Kristol scoffs at the notion that Jewish values are incompatible with Conservative politics.
· Alan Dershowitz, raised Orthodox, talks about why he gave up morning prayer.
· Shawn Green describes the pressure that comes with being baseball’s Jewish star.
· Natalie Portman questions the ostentatious bat mitzvahs of her hometown.
· Tony Kushner explains how being Jewish prepared him for being gay.
· Leon Wieseltier throws down the gauntlet to Jews who haven’t taken the trouble to study Judaism.
These are just a few key moments from many poignant, often surprising, conversations with public figures whom most of us thought we already knew.
“When my mother got her nose job, she wanted me to get one, too. She said I would be happier.”—Dustin Hoffman
“It’s a heritage to be proud of. And then, too, it’s something that you can’t escape because the world won’t let you; so it’s a good thing you can be proud of it.”
—Ruth Bader Ginsburg
“My wife [Kate Capshaw] chose to do a full conversion before we were married in 1991, and she married me as a Jew. I think that, more than anything else, brought me back to Judaism.”—Steven Spielberg
“As someone who was born in Israel, you’re put in a position of defending Israel because you know how much is at stake.”—Natalie Portman
As a Jew in postwar Germany, Yascha Mounk felt like a foreigner in his own country. When he mentioned that he is Jewish, some made anti-Semitic jokes or talked about the superiority of the Aryan race. Others, sincerely hoping to atone for the country's past, fawned over him with a forced friendliness he found just as alienating.
Vivid and fascinating, Stranger in My Own Country traces the contours of Jewish life in a country still struggling with the legacy of the Third Reich and portrays those who, inevitably, continue to live in its shadow. Marshaling an extraordinary range of material into a lively narrative, Mounk surveys his countrymen's responses to "the Jewish question." Examining history, the story of his family, and his own childhood, he shows that anti-Semitism and far-right extremism have long coexisted with self-conscious philo-Semitism in postwar Germany.
But of late a new kind of resentment against Jews has come out in the open. Unnoticed by much of the outside world, the desire for a "finish line" that would spell a definitive end to the country's obsession with the past is feeding an emphasis on German victimhood. Mounk shows how, from the government's pursuit of a less "apologetic" foreign policy to the way the country's idea of the Volk makes life difficult for its immigrant communities, a troubled nationalism is shaping Germany's future.
In August of 1991, the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights was engulfed in violence following the deaths of Gavin Cato and Yankel Rosenbaum—a West Indian boy struck by a car in the motorcade of a Hasidic spiritual leader and an orthodox Jew stabbed by a Black teenager. The ensuing unrest thrust the tensions between the Lubavitch Hasidic community and their Afro-Caribbean and African American neighbors into the media spotlight, spurring local and national debates on diversity and multiculturalism. Crown Heights became a symbol of racial and religious division. Yet few have paused to examine the nature of Black-Jewish difference in Crown Heights, or to question the flawed assumptions about race and religion that shape the politics—and perceptions—of conflict in the community.
In Race and Religion among the Chosen Peoples of Crown Heights, Henry Goldschmidt explores the everyday realities of difference in Crown Heights. Drawing on two years of fieldwork and interviews, he argues that identity formation is particularly complex in Crown Heights because the neighborhood’s communities envision the conflict in remarkably diverse ways. Lubavitch Hasidic Jews tend to describe it as a religious difference between Jews and Gentiles, while their Afro-Caribbean and African American neighbors usually define it as a racial difference between Blacks and Whites. These tangled definitions are further complicated by government agencies who address the issue as a matter of culture, and by the Lubavitch Hasidic belief—a belief shared with a surprising number of their neighbors—that they are a “chosen people” whose identity transcends the constraints of the social world.
The efforts of the Lubavitch Hasidic community to live as a divinely chosen people in a diverse Brooklyn neighborhood where collective identities are generally defined in terms of race illuminate the limits of American multiculturalism—a concept that claims to celebrate diversity, yet only accommodates variations of certain kinds. Taking the history of conflict in Crown Heights as an invitation to reimagine our shared social world, Goldschmidt interrogates the boundaries of race and religion and works to create space in American society for radical forms of cultural difference.
Written by Dean J. Champion, "Police Misconduct in America" covers police history back to Mesopotamia, outlines controversies, provides a broad chronology of significant eras in police history and a timeline of specific events, and offers biographical sketches of key personalities from J. Edgar Hoover to Alice Stebbens Wells, the first American policewoman. It also includes are summaries of key Supreme Court cases, an extensive list of organizations concerned about police misconduct, government documents and agency publications, and other references.
- Jewish Book World
"Cherry has analyzed the biblical commentary of some of the renowned Jewish scholars of the last 2,000 years. The result is a work of excellent scholarship and imagination."
?Cherry shows how the Torah functions as literature that is fluid, compelling, and persistently generative of new meanings.?
? Christian Century
Every commentator, from the classical rabbi to the modern-day scholar, has brought his or her own worldview, with all of its assumptions, to bear on the reading of holy text. This relationship between the text itself and the reader's interpretation is the subject of Torah Through Time. Shai Cherry traces the development of Jewish Bible commentary through three pivotal periods in Jewish history: the rabbinic, medieval, and modern periods. The result is a fascinating and accessible guide to how some of the world's leading Jewish commentators read the Bible. Torah Through Time focuses on specific narrative sections of the Torah: the creation of humanity, the rivalry between Cain and Abel, Korah's rebellion, the claim of the daughters of Zelophechad, and legal matters concerning Hebrew slavery. Cherry closely examines several different commentaries for each of these source texts, and in so doing he analyzes how each commentator resolves questions raised by the texts and asks if and how the commentator's own historical frame of reference -- his own time and place -- contributes to the resolution. A chart at the end of each chapter provides a visual summary that helps the reader understand the many different elements at play.
But America was facing more than economic hardship. Hitler’s agenda heightened the persecution of Jews abroad while anti-Semitism intensified political and social tensions in the U.S. The six-foot-four-inch Greenberg, the nation’s most prominent Jew, became not only an iconic ball player, but also an important and sometimes controversial symbol of Jewish identity and the American immigrant experience.
Throughout his twelve-year baseball career and four years of military service, he heard cheers wherever he went along with anti-Semitic taunts. The abuse drove him to legendary feats that put him in the company of the greatest sluggers of the day, including Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, and Lou Gehrig. Hank’s iconic status made his personal dilemmas with religion versus team and ambition versus duty national debates.
Hank Greenberg is an intimate account of his life—a story of integrity and triumph over adversity and a portrait of one of the greatest baseball players and most important Jews of the twentieth century.
Wisse broadly traces modern Jewish humor around the world, teasing out its implications as she explores memorable and telling examples from German, Yiddish, English, Russian, and Hebrew. Among other topics, the book looks at how Jewish humor channeled Jewish learning and wordsmanship into new avenues of creativity, brought relief to liberal non-Jews in repressive societies, and enriched popular culture in the United States.
Even as it invites readers to consider the pleasures and profits of Jewish humor, the book asks difficult but fascinating questions: Can the excess and extreme self-ridicule of Jewish humor go too far and backfire in the process? And is "leave 'em laughing" the wisest motto for a people that others have intended to sweep off the stage of history?
Focusing on tensions over gender, ethnic identity and assimilation, each chapter discusses the meaning and symbolism of a specific era or type of Jewish dress. What were biblical and rabbinic fashions? Why was clothing so important to immigrant Jews in America? Why do Hassidic Jews wear black? When did yarmulkes become bar mitzvah souvenirs?
The book also offers the first analysis of how young Jewish adults today announce on caps, shirts, and even undergarments their striving to transform Jewishness from a religious and historical heritage into an ethnic identity that is hip, racy, and irreverent. Fascinating and accessibly written, A Cultural History of Jewish Dress will appeal to anybody interested in the central role of clothing in defining Jewish identity.
When Joshua Safran was four years old, his mother--determined to protect him from the threats of nuclear war and Ronald Reagan--took to the open road with her young son, leaving the San Francisco countercultural scene behind. Together they embarked on a journey to find a utopia they could call home. InFree Spirit, Safran tells the harrowing, yet wryly funny story of his childhood chasing this perfect life off the grid--and how they survived the imperfect one they found instead.
Encountering a cast of strange and humorous characters along the way, Joshua spends his early years living in a series of makeshift homes, including shacks, teepees, buses, and a lean-to on a stump. His colorful youth darkens, however, when his mother marries an alcoholic and abusive guerrilla/poet.
Throughout it all, Joshua yearns for a "normal" life, but when he finally reenters society through school, he finds "America" a difficult and confusing place. Years spent living in the wilderness and discussing Marxism have not prepared him for the Darwinian world of teenagers, and he finds himself bullied and beaten by classmates who don't share his mother's belief about reveling in one's differences.
Eventually, Joshua finds the strength to fight back against his tormentors, both in school and at home, and helps his mother find peace. But Free Spirit is more than just a coming-of-age story. It is also a journey of the spirit, as he reconnects with his Jewish roots; a tale of overcoming adversity; and a captivating read about a childhood unlike any other.
In the religious domain, Halbertal argues, sacrifice is an offering, a gift given in the context of a hierarchical relationship. As such it is vulnerable to rejection, a trauma at the root of both ritual and violence. An offering is also an ambiguous gesture torn between a genuine expression of gratitude and love and an instrument of exchange, a tension that haunts the practice of sacrifice.
In the moral and political domains, sacrifice is tied to the idea of self-transcendence, in which an individual sacrifices his or her self-interest for the sake of higher values and commitments. While self-sacrifice has great potential moral value, it can also be used to justify the most brutal acts. Halbertal attempts to unravel the relationship between self-sacrifice and violence, arguing that misguided self-sacrifice is far more problematic than exaggerated self-love. In his exploration of the positive and negative dimensions of self-sacrifice, Halbertal also addresses the role of past sacrifice in obligating future generations and in creating a bond for political associations, and considers the function of the modern state as a sacrificial community.
As Fishman points out, the rise of Yiddishism was not without controversy. Some believed that the rise of Yiddish represented a shift away from a religious-dominated culture to a completely secular, European one; a Jewish nation held together by language, rather than by land or religious content. Others hoped that Yiddish culture would inherit the moral and national values of the Jewish religious tradition, and that to achieve this result, the Bible and Midrash would need to exist in modern Yiddish translation. Modern Yiddish culture developed in the midst of these opposing concepts.
Fishman follows the rise of the culture to its apex, the founding of the Yiddish Scientific Institute (YIVO) in Vilna in 1925, and concludes with the dramatic story of the individual efforts that preserved the books and papers of YIVO during the destruction and annihilation of World War II and in postwar Soviet Lithuania. The Rise of Modern Yiddish Culture, like those efforts, preserves the cultural heritage of east European Jews with thorough research and fresh insights.