Adopting a comparative historical approach, J. H. Chajes uncovers this strain of Jewish belief to which scant attention has been paid. Informed by recent research in historical anthropology, Between Worlds provides fascinating descriptions of the cases of possession as well as analysis of the magical techniques deployed by rabbinic exorcists to expel the ghostly intruders.
Seeking to understand the phenomenon of spirit possession in its full complexity, Chajes delves into its ideational framework—chiefly the doctrine of reincarnation—while exploring its relation to contemporary Christian and Islamic analogues. Regarding spirit possession as a form of religious expression open to—and even dominated by—women, Chajes initiates a major reassessment of women in the history of Jewish mysticism. In a concluding section he examines the reception history of the great Hebrew accounts of spirit possession, focusing on the deployment of these "ghost stories" in the battle against incipient skepticism in the turbulent Jewish community of seventeenth-century Amsterdam.
Exploring a phenomenon that bridged learned and ignorant, rich and poor, men and women, Jews and Gentiles, Between Worlds maps for the first time a prominent feature of the early modern Jewish religious landscape, as quotidian as it was portentous: the nexus of the living and the dead.
This groundbreaking volume explores forms of Jewish experience that span the period from antiquity to the present and encompass a wide range of textual, ritual, spatial, and visual materials. The essays give full consideration to non-written expressions of ritual performance, artistic production, spoken narrative, and social experience through which Jewish life emerges. More than simply contributing to an appreciation of Jewish diversity, the contributors devote their attention to three key concepts—authority, diaspora, and tradition—that have long been central to the study of Jews and Judaism. Moving beyond inherited approaches and conventional academic boundaries, the volume reconsiders these core concepts, reorienting our understanding of the dynamic relationships between text and practice, and continuity and change in Jewish contexts. More broadly, this volume furthers conversation across the disciplines by using Judaic studies to provoke inquiry into theoretical problems in a range of other areas.
In these pages Jonathan Boyarin invites us to share the intimate life of the Stanton Street Shul, one of the last remaining Jewish congregations on New York's historic Lower East Side. This narrow building, wedged into a lot designed for an old-law tenement, is full of clamorous voices the generations of the dead, who somehow contrive to make their presence known, and the newer generation, keeping the building and its memories alive and making themselves Jews in the process. Through the eyes of Boyarin, at once a member of the congregation and a bemused anthropologist, the book follows this congregation of "year-round Jews" through the course of a summer during which its future must once again be decided.
The Lower East Side, famous as the jumping off point for millions of Jewish and other immigrants to America, has recently become the hip playground of twenty-something immigrants to the city from elsewhere in America
and from abroad. Few imagine that Jewish life there has stubbornly continued through this history of decline and regeneration. Coming inside with Boyarin, we see the congregation's life as a combination of quiet heroism, ironic humor, disputes for the sake of Heaven and perhaps otherwise, and above all the ongoing
search for ways to connect with Jewish ancestors while remaining true to oneself in the present.
Mornings at the Stanton Street Shul illustrates in poignant and humorous ways the changes in a historic neighborhood facing the challenges of gentrification. It offers readers with no prior knowledge of Judaism and synagogue life a portrait that is at once intimate and intelligible. Most important, perhaps, it shows the congregation's members to be anything but a monochromatic set of uniform "believers" but rather a gathering of vibrant, imperfect, indisputably down-to-earth individuals coming together to make a community.
With contributions from leading scholars in the field, the book brings together a wide range of perspectives and covers communities in ancient Israel, Europe and America, as well as all major eras of Jewish history: biblical, Talmudic, medieval and modern. Providing historical, religious and cultural examples ranging from the "Blood Libel" through to the poetry of Uri Zvi Greenberg, this volume explores the deep continuities in thought and practice related to blood. Moreover, it examines the continuities and discontinuities between Jewish and Christian ideas and practices related to blood, many of which extend into the modern, contemporary period. The chapters look at not only the Jewish and Christian interaction, but the interaction between Jews and the individual national communities to which they belong, including the complex appropriation and rejection of European ideas and images undertaken by some Zionists, and then by the State of Israel.
This broad-ranging and multidisciplinary work will be of interest to students of Jewish Studies, History and Religion.
This book explores the extraordinary hold that Hebrew has had on Jews and Christians, who have invested it with a symbolic power far beyond that of any other language in history. Preserved by the Jews across two millennia, Hebrew endured long after it ceased to be a mother tongue, resulting in one of the most intense textual cultures ever known. It was a bridge to Greek and Arab science. It unlocked the biblical sources for Jerome and the Reformation. Kabbalists and humanists sought philosophical truth in it, and Colonial Americans used it to shape their own Israelite political identity. Today, it is the first language of millions of Israelis.
The Story of Hebrew takes readers from the opening verses of Genesis—which seemingly describe the creation of Hebrew itself—to the reincarnation of Hebrew as the everyday language of the Jewish state. Lewis Glinert explains the uses and meanings of Hebrew in ancient Israel and its role as a medium for wisdom and prayer. He describes the early rabbis' preservation of Hebrew following the Babylonian exile, the challenges posed by Arabic, and the prolific use of Hebrew in Diaspora art, spirituality, and science. Glinert looks at the conflicted relationship Christians had with Hebrew from the Renaissance to the Counter-Reformation, the language's fatal rivalry with Yiddish, the dreamers and schemers that made modern Hebrew a reality, and how a lost pre-Holocaust textual ethos is being renewed today by Orthodox Jews.
A major work of scholarship, The Story of Hebrew is an unforgettable account of what one language has meant to those possessing it.