THE AMERICANIZATION OF THE JEWS seeks out the effects of this evolution on both Jews in America and an America with Jews. Although English, French, and Dutch Jewries are usually considered the principal forerunners of modern Jewry, Jews have lived as long in North America as they have in post- medieval Britain and France and only sixty years less than in Amsterdam.
As one of the four especially creative Jewish communities that has helped re-shape and re-formulate modern Judaism, American Judaism is the most complex and least understood. German Jewry is recognized for its contribution to modern Jewish theology and philosophy, Russian and Polish Jewry is known for its secular influence in literature, and Israel clearly offers Judaism a new stance as a homeland. But how does one capture the interplay between America and Judaism?
Immigration to America meant that much of Judaism was discarded, and much was retained. Acculturation did not always lead to assimilation: Jewishness was honed as an independent variable in the motivations of many of its American adherents- -and has remained so, even though Jewish institutions, ideologies, and even Jewish values have been reshaped by America to such an degree that many Jews of the past might not recognize as Jewish some of what constitutes American Jewishness.
This collection of essays explores the paradoxes that abound in the America/Judaism relationship, focusing on such specific issues as Jews and American politics in the twentieth century, the adaptation of Jewish religious life to the American environment, the contributions and impact of the women's movement, and commentaries on the Jewish future in America.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"The testimony of a profoundly serious man.... In its every turn and crease, it bears the marks of the true." —Irving Howe, New Republic
"This remarkable memoir...is the autobiography of an extraordinarily acute conscience. With the ear of a poet and the eye of a novelist, Amery vividly communicates the wonder of a philosopher—a wonder here aroused by the ‘dark riddle’ of the Nazi regime and its systematic sadism." —Jim Miller, Newsweek
"Whoever has succumbed to torture can no longer feel at home in the world. The shame of destruction cannot be erased. Trust in the world, which already collapsed in part at the first blow, but in the end, under torture, fully, will not be regained. That one’s fellow man was experienced as the antiman remains in the tortured person as accumulated horror. It blocks the view into a world in which the principle of hope rules. One who was martyred is a defenseless prisoner of fear. It is fear that henceforth reigns over him." —Jean Amery
At the Mind’s Limits is the story of one man’s incredible struggle to understand the reality of horror. In five autobiographical essays, Amery describes his survival—mental, moral, and physical—through the enormity of the Holocaust. Above all, this masterful record of introspection tells of a young Viennese intellectual’s fervent vision of human nature and the betrayal of that vision.
After he spent five years attending Chever Torah, Athol Dickson found his faith radically changed-the result being a deeper relationship with God. In beautiful and simple language, The Gospel according to Moses illustrates Dickson's journey of faith exploring some of the primary theological differences and similarities between Christianity and Judaism. He draws generously on both Old and New Testament scriptures, looking at Christian and Jewish perspectives on topics such as suffering, grace vs. works, and the place of Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures.
This guide contains a complete, authoritative account of the Jewish people - including profiles of Biblical and political leaders - and focuses on understanding the Jewish influence on American and world culture, offering insights into the Yiddish and Hebrew languages, theater, art, literature, comedy, film, television, and more.
The failure among Ashkenazic Jews to recognize Sephardim and Mizrahim as fellow Jews continues today. More often than not, these Jewish communities are simply absent from portrayals of American Jewry. Drawing on primary sources such as the Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) press, archival documents, and oral histories, Sephardic Jews in America offers the first book-length academic treatment of their history in the United States, from 1654 to the present, focusing on the age of mass immigration.
Whether you're interested in the religion or the spirituality, the culture or the ethnic traditions, Judaism For Dummies explores the full spectrum of Judaism, dipping into the mystical, meditative, and spiritual depth of the faith and the practice. In this warm and welcoming book, you'll find coverage ofOrthodox Jews and breakaway denominations Judaism as a daily practice The food and fabric of Judaism Jewish wedding ceremonies Celebrations and holy days 4,000 years of pain, sadness, triumph, and joy Great Jewish thinkers and historical celebrities
Jews have long spread out to the corners of the world, so there are significant Jewish communities on many continents. Judaism For Dummies offers a glimpse into the rituals, ideas, and terms that are woven into the history and everyday lives of Jewish people as near as our own neighborhoods and as far-reaching as across the world.
Kahane and Wainer explain that the calendar is the master key to unlock the hidden rationale behind the formal structure of ancient sacred texts, as well as to understand basic mystical concepts. When comprehended within the context of the Jewish calendar, these works reveal the spiritual energy of each week, serving as a practical guide for self-analysis and development.
During this annual journey, we will learn to live with greater harmony, happiness and gratitude by learning from the Kabbalah, from age-old Jewish ethical teachings, and even from animals. The objective is to make the reader be in touch with the spiritual powers of each week, thereby improving ones daily conduct and rediscovering the universal song within each one of us: the song of the soul.
Where do we find the strength to rebuild our lives after difficult times? Is it possible to recapture our hope? Our innocence? Our faith? The answers, never simple but always inspiring, are indeed found in this wonderful book.
Naomi Levy was a bright, cheerful fifteen-year-old girl who awoke to the devastating news that her father had been shot. His senseless murder shattered her belief in God and left her feeling helpless and full of rage. But, in time, she learned to fight her way through the darkness to conquer her heartbreaking pain. She describes, with humor and extraordinary honesty, how she managed to emerge victorious over sorrow.
Later, in her years as the rabbi of a congregation in Venice, California, Levy quickly learned that her own painful experiences were not unique. Many of her congregants had also suffered--divorce, addiction, rape, loss, illness. They too had searched long and hard for ways to bring joy back into their lives.
A natural and engaging storyteller, Levy weaves together her own story and the struggles of her congregants with the ancient lessons of great sages. She offers up exquisitely simple prayers, which--no matter what our religious beliefs--remind us that we are far, far stronger than we ever imagined. What emerges is a remarkable tapestry that teaches us how to mend our hearts and souls.
To Begin Again is a book that will be passed to friends when tragedy strikes, a book that will rest at our bedside tables during troubling times. It is a testament to the human spirit--to the undying strength that enables us to make our way through whatever darkness we may face and begin living once again.
From the Hardcover edition.
The author begins with an over-view of basic themes about the afterlife, such as the judgement of souls before the Heavenly Court, the mystical significance of the Covenant at Sinai, the process of tikkun olam (repairing the universe), and some reasons why human beings return to earth in new bodies. He then takes you on an exciting journey through many centuries of Jewish tales, where you will meet dozens of saints and sinners, animals and humans, angels and mortals–all attempting to work out their past-life karma through applying the teachings of the Torah in earthly life.
In order to make the classical stories understandable to the modern reader, each tale has been ex-panded to include clear explanations of cultural and religious details. So skillfully does Gershom weave this material into the narrative itself, that the reader scarcely notices how a gentle form of education is taking place. By the time you have finished the book, you will not only have been entertained, but will have completed an excellent introduction to Jewish spirituality as well.
Both classical and contemporary tales are included here, from sources as widely varied as kabbalistic texts, folklore anthologies, and discussions on the Internet. Of special interest are several new tales collected by the author himself, which have never before appeared in print.
In The Talmud – A Biography, Jewish scholar Harry Freedman tells the engrossing story of an ancient classic, the legal and mystical pillar of Judaism and recounts the story of a book which, in many ways, parallels the history of the Jewish people. From its origins as a record of discussions amongst scholars in towns and villages close to modern-day Baghdad, Freedman traces the spiraling paths of the Jewish diaspora and explores the story of the Talmud's early origins in Babylon, its role during the Enlightenment and its influence over traditional Judaism. A compelling fusion of law, storytelling and spirituality, the Talmud's story is a fascinating insight into the history of Judaism and Harry Freedman's The Talmud – A Biography is a remarkable account of one of the most important cultural, historical and religious works of our time.
The New Rabbi
The center of this compelling chronicle is Har Zion Temple on Philadelphia’s Main Line, which for the last seventy-five years has been one of the largest and most influential congregations in America. For thirty years Rabbi Gerald Wolpe has been its spiritual leader, a brilliant sermonizer of wide renown--but now he has announced his retirement. It is the start of a remarkable nationwide search process largely unknown to the lay world--and of much more. For at this dramatic moment Wolpe agrees to give extraordinary access to Fried, inviting him--and the reader--into the intense personal and professional life of the clergy and the complex behind-the-scenes life of a major Conservative congregation.
These riveting pages bring us a unique view of Judaism in practice: from Har Zion’s strong-willed leaders and influential families to the young bar and bat mitzvahs just beginning their Jewish lives; from the three-days-a-year synagogue goers to the hard core of devout attendees. We are touched by their times of joy and times of grief, intrigued by congregational politics, moved by the search for faith. We witness the conflicts between generations about issues of belief, observance, and the pressures of secular life. We meet Wolpe’s vigorous-minded ailing wife and his sons, one of whom has become a celebrity rabbi in Los Angeles. And we follow the author’s own moving search for meaning as he reconnects with the religion of his youth.
We also have a front-row seat at the usually clandestine process of choosing a new rabbi, as what was expected to be a simple one-year search for Rabbi Wolpe’s successor extends to two years and then three. Dozens of résumés are rejected, a parade of prospects come to interview, the chosen successor changes his mind at the last minute, and a confrontation erupts between the synagogue and the New York–based Conservative rabbis’ “union” that governs the process. As the time comes for Wolpe to depart, a venerated house of worship is being torn apart. And thrust onto the pulpit is Wolpe’s young assistant, Rabbi Jacob Herber, in his first job out of rabbinical school, facing the nearly impossible situation of taking over despite being technically ineligible for the position--and finding himself on trial with the congregation and at odds with his mentor.
Rich in anecdote and scenes of wonderful immediacy, this is a riveting book about the search for personal faith, about the tension between secular concerns and ancient tradition in affluent America, and about what Wolpe himself has called “the retail business of religion.” Stephen Fried brings all these elements to vivid life with the passion and energy of a superbly gifted storyteller.
In many ways, the Jewish experience in the West was distinct. Given the still-forming social landscape, beginning with the 1848 Gold Rush, Jews were able to integrate more fully into local communities than they had in the East. Jewish women in the West took advantage of the unsettled nature of the region to “open new doors” for themselves in the public sphere in ways often not yet possible elsewhere in the country. Women were crucial to the survival of early communities, and made distinct contributions not only in shaping Jewish communal life but outside the Jewish community as well. Western Jewish women's level of involvement at the vanguard of social welfare and progressive reform, commerce, politics, and higher education and the professions is striking given their relatively small numbers.
This engaging work—full of stories from the memoirs and records of Jewish pioneer women—illuminates the pivotal role these women played in settling America's Western frontier.