As a post-Holocaust Jewish thinker, Marc Ellis inhabits the land between homes that we call exile. In this intensely personal work he explores how the religious landscape looks from the perspective of an exile -- and how religious searching continually leads away from the domestic comforts of received Jewish and Christian platitudes and into new struggles for religious authenticity.
At once a memoir and an examination of conscience, Ellis's autobiographical starting points spark reflections on Jewish-Christian relations, liberation theology, religion and politics, and issues of justice in Israel and Palestine. His experiences also occasion meditations on solitude and solidarity, gratitude and alienation, memory and responsibility. They exemplify how religiously committed persons, though exiled forever from yesterday's certitudes, can yet practice covenantal fidelity.
In the end, for Ellis and for the reader, there is no going back. Exile is not simply a fact; it is a religious imperative. "At stake is the integrity of the religious search as a truly ecumenical adventure".
This book is an attempt to work through the questions posed to Ellis over his years among the poor and through his contact with the global issues of justice and peace.
For some, fidelity is a question answered before asked; for the pious through dogma and eternal truth, for the cynic through denial and derision. For Ellis, fidelity is neither assumed nor negated. Rather, it is a struggle through which we search out our own humanity. As human beings born with an unfinished consciousness and into a specific historical context, the struggle to be faithful begins with the historical hour in which we live. This is our burden, but it is also an opportunity to become what we are called to be.
Peter Maurin: Prophet in the Twentieth Century is the first biography to really examine Maurin's thought. A commitment to non-violent reform and to a life of poverty were chief tenets of Maurin's philosophy; it was Maurin's notion that farmers and scholars would labor and learn together in the ideal world. Ellis discusses these and other ideas of Maurin, their development and their particular importance today.
Edith Hahn was an outspoken young woman in Vienna when the Gestapo forced her into a ghetto and then into a slave labor camp. When she returned home months later, she knew she would become a hunted woman and went underground. With the help of a Christian friend, she emerged in Munich as Grete Denner. There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi Party member who fell in love with her. Despite Edith's protests and even her eventual confession that she was Jewish, he married her and kept her identity a secret.
In wrenching detail, Edith recalls a life of constant, almost paralyzing fear. She tells how German officials casually questioned the lineage of her parents; how during childbirth she refused all painkillers, afraid that in an altered state of mind she might reveal something of her past; and how, after her husband was captured by the Soviets, she was bombed out of her house and had to hide while drunken Russian soldiers raped women on the street.
Despite the risk it posed to her life, Edith created a remarkable record of survival. She saved every document, as well as photographs she took inside labor camps. Now part of the permanent collection at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., these hundreds of documents, several of which are included in this volume, form the fabric of a gripping new chapter in the history of the Holocaust—complex, troubling, and ultimately triumphant.
A stunning novel based on the true story of how German war profiteer and factory director Oskar Schindler came to save more Jews from the gas chambers than any other single person during World War II. In this milestone of Holocaust literature, Thomas Keneally, author of Daughter of Mars, uses the actual testimony of the Schindlerjuden—Schindler’s Jews—to brilliantly portray the courage and cunning of a good man in the midst of unspeakable evil.
In this enlightening biography, Joseph Telushkin offers a captivating portrait of the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a towering figure who saw beyond conventional boundaries to turn his movement, Chabad-Lubavitch, into one of the most dynamic and widespread organizations ever seen in the Jewish world. At once an incisive work of history and a compendium of Rabbi Schneerson's teachings, Rebbe is the definitive guide to understanding one of the most vital, intriguing figures of the last centuries.
From his modest headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the Rebbe advised some of the world's greatest leaders and shaped matters of state and society. Statesmen and artists as diverse as Ronald Reagan, Robert F. Kennedy, Yitzchak Rabin, Menachem Begin, Elie Wiesel, and Bob Dylan span the spectrum of those who sought his counsel. Rebbe explores Schneerson's overarching philosophies against the backdrop of treacherous history, revealing his clandestine operations to rescue and sustain Jews in the Soviet Union, and his critical role in the expansion of the food stamp program throughout the United States. More broadly, it examines how he became in effect an ambassador for Jews globally, and how he came to be viewed by many as not only a spiritual archetype but a savior. Telushkin also delves deep into the more controversial aspects of the Rebbe's leadership, analyzing his views on modern science and territorial compromise in Israel, and how in the last years of his life, many of his followers believed that he would soon be revealed as the Messiah, a source of contention until this day.
As an introduction to the world of Hebrew thought, Our Father Abraham is biblical, historical, and cultural in nature. At the same time, the writing is personal and passionate, reflecting Marvin Wilson's own spiritual pilgrimage and his extensive dialogue with Jews. The book (1) develops a historical perspective on the Jewish origins of the church, (2) sets forth the importance and nature of Hebrew thought, (3) discusses how the church can become more attuned to the Hebraic mind-set of Scripture, and (4) offers practical suggestions for interaction between Jews and Christians.
The study questions at the end of each chapter enhance the book's usefulness as a text and also make it suitable for Bible-study and discussion groups. All Christians--and Jews too--will profit from Wilson's sensible treatments of biblical texts, his thorough understanding of both the Christian and the Jewish faith, and his honest historical analysis of the general failure of the Christian church to acknowledge and understand its relation to Judaism.
In The Truth behind Truths, author Cedric Boswell shares the history of the Jews as revealed in the Bible. He asks pertinent questions not often seen in typical histories and provides Scriptures in support of his answers. Beginning with Adam, Boswell relates different stories of Jews in the Bible and how they are truly the chosen people of God.
Boswell argues that those who currently call themselves Jews do not fit the historic evidence in their looks or how they were dispersed from Israel. He discusses skin pigmentation and explains that many of the early Jewish people were black and not white. He then explores the subject of God’s elect, the genealogy of the Jews, and the tribes of Israel. In the last section, Boswell tackles the heavy yet crucial subject of redemption.
An unorthodox and intriguing study, The Truth behind Truths seeks to open your eyes to new questions and new perspectives on the Jews of the Bible.
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.
For years Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Argentina, and Rabbi Abraham Skorka were tenacious promoters of interreligious dialogues on faith and reason. They both sought to build bridges among Catholicism, Judaism, and the world at large. On Heaven and Earth, originally published in Argentina in 2010, brings together a series of these conversations where both men talked about various theological and worldly issues, including God, fundamentalism, atheism, abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and globalization. From these personal and accessible talks comes a first-hand view of the man who would become pope to 1.2 billion Catholics around the world in March 2013.
A compelling and readable account of the four thousand year history of a people that spans the globe and transcends the ages. From the ancient and simple faith of a small tribe to a global religion with adherents in every nation, the path of the Jews is traced through countless expulsions and migrations, the great tragedy of the Holocaust, and the joy of founding a homeland in Israel. Putting the struggle of a persecuted people into perspective, Max Dimont asks whether the tragic sufferings of the Jews have actually been the key to their survival, as other nations and races vanished into obscurity. Here is a book for Jews and non-Jews to enjoy, evoking a proud heritage while offering a hopeful vision of the future.
The Library of Early Christianity is a series of eight outstanding books exploring the Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts in which the New Testament developed.
In this iconoclastic and provocative work, leading scholars Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman draw on recent archaeological research to present a dramatically revised portrait of ancient Israel and its neighbors. They argue that crucial evidence (or a telling lack of evidence) at digs in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon suggests that many of the most famous stories in the Bible—the wanderings of the patriarchs, the Exodus from Egypt, Joshua’s conquest of Canaan, and David and Solomon’s vast empire—reflect the world of the later authors rather than actual historical facts.
Challenging the fundamentalist readings of the scriptures and marshaling the latest archaeological evidence to support its new vision of ancient Israel, The Bible Unearthed offers a fascinating and controversial perspective on when and why the Bible was written and why it possesses such great spiritual and emotional power today.
—from the Foreword by Arthur Hertzberg, 1995
Drawing on a remarkably rich archive that includes photographs, objects, official documents, and personal papers, the editors of Jews in Nazi Berlin have assembled a multifaceted picture of Jewish daily life in the Nazi capital during the height of the regime’s power. The book’s essays and images are divided into thematic sections, each representing a different aspect of the experience of Jews in Berlin, covering such topics as emigration, the yellow star, Zionism, deportation, betrayal, survival, and more. To supplement—and, importantly, to humanize—the comprehensive documentary evidence, the editors draw on an extensive series of interviews with survivors of the Nazi persecution, who present gripping first-person accounts of the innovation, subterfuge, resilience, and luck required to negotiate the increasing brutality of the regime.
A stunning reconstruction of a storied community as it faced destruction, Jews in Nazi Berlin renders that loss with a startling immediacy that will make it an essential part of our continuing attempts to understand World War II and the Holocaust.
To account for the complexities of the foundational event through which monotheism was established, "Moses the Egyptian" goes back to the short-lived monotheistic revolution of the Egyptian king Akhenaten (1360-1340 B.C.E.). Assmann traces the monotheism of Moses to this source, then shows how his followers denied the Egyptians any part in the origin of their beliefs and condemned them as polytheistic idolaters. Thus began the cycle in which every "counter-religion," by establishing itself as truth, denounced all others as false. Assmann reconstructs this cycle as a pattern of historical abuse, and tracks its permutations from ancient sources, including the Bible, through Renaissance debates over the basis of religion to Sigmund Freud's "Moses and Monotheism." One of the great Egyptologists of our time, and an exceptional scholar of history and literature, Assmann is uniquely equipped for this undertaking--an exemplary case study of the vicissitudes of historical memory that is also a compelling lesson in the fluidity of cultural identity and beliefs.
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.
Lucifer, Mephistopheles, Beelzebub; Ha-Satan or the Adversary; Iblis or Shaitan: no matter what name he travels under, the Devil has throughout the ages and across civilizations been a compelling and charismatic presence. In Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the supposed reign of God has long been challenged by the fiery malice of his opponent, as contending forces of good and evil have between them weighed human souls in the balance.
In The Devil, Philip C. Almond explores the figure of evil incarnate from the first centuries of the Christian era. Along the way, he describes the rise of demonology as an intellectual and theological pursuit, the persecution as witches of women believed to consort with the Devil and his minions, and the decline in the belief in Hell and in angels and demons as corporeal beings as a result of the Enlightenment. Almond shows that the Prince of Darkness remains an irresistible subject in history, religion, art, literature, and culture.
Almond brilliantly locates the “life” of the Devil within the broader Christian story of which it is inextricably a part; the “demonic paradox” of the Devil as both God’s enforcer and his enemy is at the heart of Christianity. Woven throughout the account of the Christian history of the Devil is another complex and complicated history: that of the idea of the Devil in Western thought. Sorcery, witchcraft, possession, even melancholy, have all been laid at the Devil’s doorstep. Until the Enlightenment enforced a “disenchantment” with the old archetypes, even rational figures such as Thomas Aquinas were obsessed with the nature of the Devil and the specific characteristics of the orders of demons and angels. It was a significant moment both in the history of demonology and in theology when Benedict de Spinoza (1632–1677) denied the Devil’s existence; almost four hundred years later, popular fascination with the idea of the Devil has not yet dimmed.
The Gifts of the Jews reveals the critical change that made western civilization possible. Within the matrix of ancient religions and philosophies, life was seen as part of an endless cycle of birth and death; time was like a wheel, spinning ceaselessly. Yet somehow, the ancient Jews began to see time differently. For them, time had a beginning and an end; it was a narrative, whose triumphant conclusion would come in the future. From this insight came a new conception of men and women as individuals with unique destinies--a conception that would inform the Declaration of Independence--and our hopeful belief in progress and the sense that tomorrow can be better than today. As Thomas Cahill narrates this momentous shift, he also explains the real significance of such Biblical figures as Abraham and Sarah, Moses and the Pharaoh, Joshua, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.
Full of compelling stories, insights and humor, The Gifts of the Jews is an irresistible exploration of history as fascinating and fun as How the Irish Saved Civilization.
BONUS MATERIAL: This ebook edition includes an excerpt from Thomas Cahill's Heretics and Heroes.
In The Harlot by the Side of the Road, Kirsch recounts these suppressed and mistranslated tales in the grand storytelling tradition. Here is the tale of Dinah, the young Israelite daughter raped by a princely suitor. The price for her hand in marriage? The circumcision of every man in his kingdom. Here, too, is the story of Lot's daughters, who, when faced with the possibility that they are the last survivors on earth, must copulate with their drunken father to continue their race. And the story of Tamar, the harlot by the side of the road, who must disguise herself as a prostitute and seduce her father-in-law in order to bear the child who has been promised her.
Kirsch places each story within the political and social context of its time, and delves into the latest biblical scholarship to explain why each story was originally censored. He also brings to light when and where each story was first written down, and how it found its way into the Bible. And he shows how these stories have something important to say to contemporary readers who might never pick up a Bible.
Kirsch reveals that the Bible's real power lies in its unflinching lessons in human nature. And he illuminates the surprising modernity of the Bible's characters: these were, like us, people delicately balanced between their destructive and generous natures. Certain to excite controversy and ignite intellectual debate, The Harlot by the Side of the Road will undoubtedly be one of the year's most talked-about books.
From the Hardcover edition.
In 1920, in small-town America, the ubiquitous dry goods store--suits and coats, shoes and hats, work clothes and school clothes, yard goods and notions--was usually owned by Jews and often referred to as "the Jew store." That's how Stella Suberman's father's store, Bronson's Low-Priced Store, in Concordia, Tennessee, was known locally. The Bronsons were the first Jews to ever live in that tiny town (1920 population: 5,318) of one main street, one bank, one drugstore, one picture show, one feed and seed, one hardware, one barber shop, one beauty parlor, one blacksmith, and many Christian churches. Aaron Bronson moved his family all the way from New York City to that remote corner of northwest Tennessee to prove himself a born salesman--and much more. Told by Aaron's youngest child, The Jew Store is that rare thing--an intimate family story that sheds new light on a piece of American history. Here is One Man's Family with a twist--a Jew, born into poverty in prerevolutionary Russia and orphaned from birth, finds his way to America, finds a trade, finds a wife, and sets out to find his fortune in a place where Jews are unwelcome. With a novelist's sense of scene, suspense, and above all, characterization, Stella Suberman turns the clock back to a time when rural America was more peaceful but no less prejudiced, when educated liberals were suspect, and when the Klan was threatening to outsiders. In that setting, she brings to life her remarkable father, a man whose own brand of success proves that intelligence, empathy, liberality, and decency can build a home anywhere. The Jew Store is a heartwarming--even inspiring--story.
In this fascinating book noted Syro-Palestinian archaeologist William G. Dever attacks the minimalist position head-on, showing how modern archaeology brilliantly illuminates both life in ancient Palestine and the sacred scriptures as we have them today. Assembling a wealth of archaeological evidence, Dever builds the clearest, most complete picture yet of the real Israel that existed during the Iron Age of ancient Palestine (1200 600 B.C.).
Dever's exceptional reconstruction of this key period points up the minimalists' abuse of archaeology and reveals the weakness of their revisionist histories. Dever shows that ancient Israel, far from being an "invention," is a reality to be discovered. Equally important, his recovery of a reliable core history of ancient Israel provides a firm foundation from which to appreciate the aesthetic value and lofty moral aspirations of the Hebrew Bible.
As a congregational rabbi for half a century and the best-selling author of twelve books on faith, ethics, and how to apply the timeless wisdom of religious thought to everyday challenges, Rabbi Harold S. Kushner has demonstrated time and again his understanding of the human spirit. In this compassionate new work, his most personal since When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Kushner relates how his time as a twenty-first-century rabbi has shaped his senses of religion and morality. He elicits nine essential lessons from the sum of his teaching, study, and experience, offering a lifetime’s worth of spiritual food for thought, pragmatic advice, inspiration for a more fulfilling life, and strength for trying times.
With fresh, vital insight into belief (“there is no commandment in Judaism to believe in God”), conscience (the Garden of Eden story as you’ve never heard it), and mercy (forgiveness is “a favor you do yourself, not an undeserved gesture to the person who hurt you”), grounded in Kushner's brilliant readings of Scripture, history, and popular culture, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life is compulsory reading from one of modern Judaism’s foremost sages.
Distilling the wisdom of an extraordinary career, this profoundly inspiring yet practical guide to well-being is truly the capstone to Kushner’s luminous oeuvre.
From the Hardcover edition.
In Carroll’s provocative reading of the deep past, the Bible came into being as an act of resistance to the violence that threatened Jerusalem from the start. Centuries later, holy wars burned apocalyptic Jerusalem into the Western mind, sparking expressly religious conflict among Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The heat stretched from Richard the Lionheart to Field Marshal Edmund Allenby, whose World War I conquest of the city relit the fuse for a war that still rages.
Carroll’s brilliant leap is to show how, as Christopher Columbus was dispatched from the Crusades-obsessed Knights Templar’s last outpost in Iberia, the New World too was powerfully shaped by the millennial obsessions of the City on a Hill — from Governor Winthrop to Abraham Lincoln to Woodrow Wilson to Ronald Reagan. Heavenly Jerusalem defines the American imagination — and always, the earthly city smolders. Jerusalem fever, inextricably tied to Christian fervor, is the deadly — unnamed — third party to the Israeli-Palestinian wars. Understanding Jerusalem fever is the key that unlocks world history, and the diagnosis that gives us our best chance to reimagine peace.
–Professor Ari L. Goldman, Columbia University, and author of The Search for God at Harvard
“Love your neighbor as yourself” is the best-known commandment in the Bible. Yet we rarely hear anyone talk about how to apply these words in daily life. In this landmark work, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, one of the premier scholars and thinkers of our time, gives both Jews and non-Jews an extraordinary summation of what Jewish tradition teaches about putting these words into practice.
Writing with great clarity and simplicity as well as with deep wisdom, Telushkin covers topics such as love and kindness, hospitality, visiting the sick, comforting mourners, charity, relations between Jews and non-Jews, compassion for animals, tolerance, self-defense, and end-of-life issues. This second volume of the first major code of Jewish ethics written in the English language is breathtaking in its scope and will undoubtedly influence readers for generations to come. It offers hundreds of practical examples from the Torah, the Talmud, the Midrash, and both ancient and modern rabbinic commentaries–as well as contemporary anecdotes–all teaching us how to care for one another each and every day.
A Code of Jewish Ethics, Volume 2: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself is a consummate work of scholarship. Like its acclaimed predecessor, which received the National Jewish Book Award, it is rich with ideas to contemplate and discuss, while being primarily a book to live by. Nothing could be more important in these strife-torn times than learning how to love our neighbors as ourselves. The message of this book is as vital and timely now as it has been since time immemorial.
From the Hardcover edition.
Here is a fascinating glimpse into two great minds, as each author approaches the text from his unique perspective, each seeking an understanding of the Bible’s personalities and commandments, paradoxes and ambiguities. Kushner offers his words of Torah with a conversational enthusiasm that ranges from family dynamics to the Kabbalah; Mamet challenges the reader, often beginning his comment far afield—with Freud or the American judiciary—before returning to a text now wholly reinterpreted.
In the tradition of Israel as a people who wrestle with God, Kushner and Mamet grapple with the biblical text, succumbing neither to apologetics nor parochialism, asking questions without fear of the answers they may find. Over the course of a year of weekly readings, they comment on all aspects of the Bible: its richness of theme and language, its contradictions, its commandments, and its often unfathomable demands. If you are already familiar with the Bible, this book will draw you back to the text for a deeper look. If you have not yet explored the Bible in depth, Kushner and Mamet are guides of unparalleled wisdom and discernment. Five Cities of Refuge is easily accessible yet powerfully illuminating. Each week’s comments can be read in a few minutes, but they will give you something to think about all week long.
Lawrence Kushner teaches and writes as the Emanu-El Scholar at The Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco. He has taught at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City and served for twenty-eight years as rabbi of Congregation Beth El in Sudbury, Massachusetts. A frequent lecturer, he is also the author of more than a dozen books on Jewish spirituality and mysticism. He lives in San Francisco.
David Mamet is a Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright. He is the author of Glengarry Glen Ross, The Cryptogram, and Boston Marriage, among other plays. He has also published three novels and many screenplays, children's books, and essay collections.
From the Hardcover edition.
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.
What did Shlomo Hamelech – King Solomon – mean with this twenty-two verse poem that concludes Sefer Mishlei, the book of Proverbs?
Is it only a tribute to the Jewish Woman or is there more?
Would you be surprised to learn that there so are many deep levels of meaning – so many hidden secrets - behind every passage, every word, every letter?
Now, for the first time, you can learn of the beauty of this timeless message, with this remarkable new book, “The Aishes Chayil Song.”
Embark on a magical journey to unlock the meaning in every verse, as you join Rabbi Yosef Tropper, a noted author, speaker and educator, as he takes us through new discoveries you will enjoy on every page.
What are the foundations of a Jewish Home? What traits did our illustrious mothers possess? How can I learn to appreciate life and live a more rewarding experience? What practical lessons can I learn from the women in Tanach and Jewish women of today? How can I become a greater person?
The Aishes Chayil Song will shed much light and inspiration on all of these topics.
Stephen Silverman and Raphael Silver tell of the turning points that made the Catskills so vital to the development of America: Henry Hudson’s first spotting the distant blue mountains in 1609; the New York State constitutional convention, resulting in New York’s own Declaration of Independence from Great Britain and its own constitution, causing the ire of the invading British army . . . the Catskills as a popular attraction in the 1800s, with the construction of the Catskill Mountain House and its rugged imitators that offered WASP guests “one-hundred percent restricted” accommodations (“Hebrews will knock vainly for admission”), a policy that remained until the Catskills became the curative for tubercular patients, sending real-estate prices plummeting and the WASP enclave on to richer pastures . . .
Here are the gangsters (Jack “Legs” Diamond and Dutch Schultz, among them) who sought refuge in the Catskill Mountains, and the resorts that after World War II catered to upwardly mobile Jewish families, giving rise to hundreds of hotels inspired by Grossinger’s, the original “Disneyland with knishes”—the Concord, Brown’s Hotel, Kutsher’s Hotel, and others—in what became known as the Borscht Belt and Sour Cream Alps, with their headliners from movies and radio (Phil Silvers, Eddie Cantor, Milton Berle, et al.), and others who learned their trade there, among them Moss Hart (who got his start organizing summer theatricals), Sid Caesar, Lenny Bruce, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, and Joan Rivers.
Here is a nineteenth-century America turning away from England for its literary and artistic inspiration, finding it instead in Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” and his childhood recollections (set in the Catskills) . . . in James Fenimore Cooper’s adventure-romances, which provided a pastoral history, describing the shift from a colonial to a nationalist mentality . . . and in the canvases of Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, Frederick Church, and others that caught the grandeur of the wilderness and that gave texture, color, and form to Irving’s and Cooper’s imaginings.
Here are the entrepreneurs and financiers who saw the Catskills as a way to strike it rich, plundering the resources that had been likened to “creation,” the Catskills’ tanneries that supplied the boots and saddles for Union troops in the Civil War . . . and the bluestone quarries whose excavated rock became the curbs and streets of the fast-growing Eastern Seaboard.
Here are the Catskills brought fully to life in all of their intensity, beauty, vastness, and lunacy.
From the Hardcover edition.
In The Origins of Jewish Secularization in Eighteenth-Century Europe Shmuel Feiner reconstructs this evolution by listening to the voices of those who participated in the process and by deciphering its cultural codes and meanings. On the one hand, a great majority of observant Jews still accepted the authority of the Talmud and the leadership of the rabbis; on the other, there was a gradually more conspicuous minority of "Epicureans" and "freethinkers." As the ground shifted, each individual was marked according to his or her place on the path between faith and heresy, between devoutness and permissiveness or indifference.
Building on his award-winning Jewish Enlightenment, Feiner unfolds the story of critics of religion, mostly Ashkenazic Jews, who did not take active part in the secular intellectual revival known as the Haskalah. In open or concealed rebellion, Feiner's subjects lived primarily in the cities of western and central Europe—Altona-Hamburg, Amsterdam, London, Berlin, Breslau, and Prague. They participated as "fashionable" Jews adopting the habits and clothing of the surrounding Gentile society. Several also adopted the deist worldview of Enlightenment Europe, rejecting faith in revelation, the authority of Scripture, and the obligation to observe the commandments.
Peering into the synagogue, observing individuals in the coffeehouse or strolling the boulevards, and peeking into the bedroom, Feiner recovers forgotten critics of religion from both the margins and the center of Jewish discourse. His is a pioneering work on the origins of one of the most significant transformations of modern Jewish history.
Focusing on 63 rabbinic traditions central to ancient Jewish life, David Instone-Brewer's massive study provides significant insights into Jewish thought and practice prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. For each rabbinic tradition considered, the supporting Hebrew source text is provided side by side with an English translation. Instone-Brewer also presents evidence that exists for accurately dating these rabbinic sources ù a critical task recently advanced by modern dating techniques. He goes on to discuss thoroughly the meaning and importance of each rabbinic tradition for Second Temple Judaism, also analyzing any echoes or direct appearances of the tradition in the New Testament writings.
In this second TRENT volume, on Feasts and Sabbaths, Instone-Brewer deals with the observance of the Sabbath, the Passover, and the Day of Atonement. He examines texts on lighting the Sabbath lamp, healing and preserving life on the Sabbath, seeking out and disposing of leaven before Passover, preparing and celebrating the Passover meal, taking incense into the Holy of Holies and sprinkling blood on the altar during the Day of Atonement, and much more.
Features of TRENT:
Discusses 63 traditions that illuminate ancient Jewish life
Follows the traditional order of subject divisions in the Mishnah
Presents Hebrew/Aramaic texts in parallel with a literal English translation and notes on variants
Provides dating evidence along with degree of certainty
Offers commentary on the meaning and significance of rabbinic traditions in Second Temple Judaism
Highlights the presence of rabbinic traditions in the New Testament writings
Includes a full glossary of rabbinic terminology
It is a story like no other: an epic of endurance in the face of destruction, of creativity in the face of oppression, joy amidst grief, the affirmation of life despite the steepest of odds.
It spans the millennia and the continents—from India to Andalusia and from the bazaars of Cairo to the streets of Oxford. It takes you to unimagined places: to a Jewish kingdom in the mountains of southern Arabia; a Syrian synagogue glowing with radiant wall paintings; the palm groves of the Jewish dead in the Roman catacombs. And its voices ring loud and clear, from the severities and ecstasies of the Bible writers to the love poems of wine bibbers in a garden in Muslim Spain.
In The Story of the Jews, the Talmud burns in the streets of Paris, massed gibbets hang over the streets of medieval London, a Majorcan illuminator redraws the world; candles are lit, chants are sung, mules are packed, ships loaded with gems and spices founder at sea.
And a great story unfolds. Not—as often imagined—of a culture apart, but of a Jewish world immersed in and imprinted by the peoples among whom they have dwelled, from the Egyptians to the Greeks, from the Arabs to the Christians.
Which makes the story of the Jews everyone's story, too.
Free from the defunct extremist ideologies of the last centuries, American Reform Judaism can expand its reach into the new millennium if it strengthens its grassroots appeal to be of, by, and for the Reform congregants. It must also have a strong Jewish divine faith orientation, be open-minded to the realities of modern living, bear a deep love of Zion, and uphold a strong defense of the Constitution.
The arguments brought forth in this study stem from the author’s position as a lay congregant. They also arise from the fact that he is a participant in and an observer of the continuous dialogue between rank-and-file congregants and clergy, as well as among congregations and various denominations of faith. Reform Judaism for the Rest of Us encourages congregants to adopt a sustainable, modern, deity-based orientation inspired by Jewish heritage and the American spirit.