Was Jesus the founder of Christianity or a teacher of Judaism? When he argued the latter based on the New Testament, Abraham Geiger ignited an intense debate that began in nineteenth-century Germany but continues to this day.
Geiger, a pioneer of Reform Judaism and a founder of Jewish studies, developed a Jewish version of Christian origins. He contended that Jesus was a member of the Pharisees, a progressive and liberalizing group within first-century Judaism, and that he taught nothing new or original. This argument enraged German Protestant theologians, some of whom produced a tragic counterargument based on racial theory.
In this fascinating book, Susannah Heschel traces the genesis of Geiger's argument and examines the reaction to it within Christian theology. She concludes that Geiger initiated an intellectual revolt by the colonized against the colonizer, an attempt not to assimilate into Christianity by adopting Jesus as a Jew, but to overthrow Christian intellectual hegemony by claiming that Christianity—and all of Western civilization—was the product of Judaism.
The history of the American entertainment industry and the history of the Jewish people in the United States are inextricably intertwined. Jews have provided Broadway and Hollywood with some of their most enduring talent, from writers like Arthur Miller, Wendy Wasserstein, and Tony Kushner; to directors like Jerome Robbins and Woody Allen; to performers like Gertrude Berg, John Garfield, Lenny Bruce, and Barbra Streisand. Conversely, show business has provided Jews with a means of upward mobility, a model for how to "become American," and a source of cultural pride.
Acting Jewish documents this history, looking at the work of Jewish writers, directors, and actors in the American entertainment industry with particular attention to the ways in which these artists offer behavioral models for Jewish-American audiences. The book spans the period from 1947 to the present and takes a close look at some of America's favorite plays (Death of a Salesman, Fiddler on the Roof, Angels in America), films (Gentleman's Agreement, AnnieHall), and television shows (The Goldbergs, Seinfeld), identifying a double-coding by which performers enact, and spectators read, Jewishness in contemporary performance-and, by extension, enact and read other minority identities. The book thus explores and illuminates the ever-changing relationship between Jews and mainstream American culture.
"Fascinating and original . . . Bial's command of sources is impressive, and his concept of 'double-coding' is convincing . . . the book should have no trouble finding a large audience."
-Barbara Grossman, author of Funny Woman: The Life and Times of Fanny Brice
Henry Bial is Assistant Professor of Theatre and Film, University of Kansas. He is editor of the Performance Studies Reader and co-editor of the Brecht Sourcebook.
The Adam and Eve stories are a foundational myth in the Jewish and Christian worlds, and the way they were recounted reveals a great deal about those doing the retelling. How did the Armenians retell these stories? What values do these retellings express about men and women, their life in the world, sin and redemption? Presented here are twelve hundred years of Armenian telling of the Genesis 1–3 stories in an unparalleled collection of all significant narratives of Adam and Eve in Armenian literature—prose and poetry, homilies and commentaries, calendary and mathematical texts—from its inception in the fifth century to the seventeenth century. This seminal resource contributes to the lively current discussion of how biblical and apocryphal traditions were retold, embroidered, and transformed into the lenses through which the Bible itself was read.
Through most of Western European history, Jews have been a numerically tiny or entirely absent minority, but across that history Europeans have nonetheless worried a great deal about Judaism. Why should that be so? This short but powerfully argued book suggests that Christian anxieties about their own transcendent ideals made Judaism an important tool for Christianity, as an apocalyptic religion—characterized by prizing soul over flesh, the spiritual over the literal, the heavenly over the physical world—came to terms with the inescapable importance of body, language, and material things in this world. Nirenberg shows how turning the Jew into a personification of worldly over spiritual concerns, surface over inner meaning, allowed cultures inclined toward transcendence to understand even their most materialistic practices as spiritual. Focusing on art, poetry, and politics—three activities especially condemned as worldly in early Christian culture—he reveals how, over the past two thousand years, these activities nevertheless expanded the potential for their own existence within Christian culture because they were used to represent Judaism. Nirenberg draws on an astonishingly diverse collection of poets, painters, preachers, philosophers, and politicians to reconstruct the roles played by representations of Jewish “enemies” in the creation of Western art, culture, and politics, from the ancient world to the present day. This erudite and tightly argued survey of the ways in which Christian cultures have created themselves by thinking about Judaism will appeal to the broadest range of scholars of religion, art, literature, political theory, media theory, and the history of Western civilization more generally.
Martin Buber’s embrace of Hasidism at the start of the twentieth century was instrumental to the revival of this popular form of Jewish mysticism. Hoping to instigate a Jewish cultural and spiritual renaissance, he published a series of anthologies of Hasidic teachings written in German to introduce the tradition to a wide audience. In Aesthetics of Renewal, Martina Urban closely analyzes Buber’s writings and sources to explore his interpretation of Hasidic spirituality as a form of cultural criticism.
For Buber, Hasidic legends and teachings were not a static, canonical body of knowledge, but were dynamic and open to continuous reinterpretation. Urban argues that this representation of Hasidism was essential to the Zionist effort to restore a sense of unity across the Jewish diaspora as purely religious traditions weakened—and that Buber’s anthologies in turn played a vital part in the broad movement to use cultural memory as a means to reconstruct a collective identity for Jews. As Urban unravels the rich layers of Buber’s vision of Hasidism in this insightful book, he emerges as one of the preeminent thinkers on the place of religion in modern culture.
After Representation? explores one of the major issues in Holocaust studiesùthe intersection of memory and ethics in artistic expression, particularly within literature.
As experts in the study of literature and culture, the scholars in this collection examine the shifting cultural contexts for Holocaust representation and reveal how writersùwhether they write as witnesses to the Holocaust or at an imaginative distance from the Nazi genocideùarticulate the shadowy borderline between fact and fiction, between event and expression, and between the condition of life endured in atrocity and the hope of a meaningful existence. What imaginative literature brings to the study of the Holocaust is an ability to test the limits of language and its conventions. After Representation? moves beyond the suspicion of representation and explores the changing meaning of the Holocaust for different generations, audiences, and contexts.
Essays that explore the rich engagement of the Talmud with its cultural world
The Babylonian Talmud (Bavli), the great compilation of Jewish law edited in the late Sasanian era (sixth–seventh century CE), also incorporates a great deal of aggada, that is, nonlegal material, including interpretations of the Bible, stories, folk sayings, and prayers. The Talmud’s aggadic traditions often echo conversations with the surrounding cultures of the Persians, Eastern Christians, Manichaeans, Mandaeans, and the ancient Babylonians, and others. The essays in this volume analyze Bavli aggada to reveal this rich engagement of the Talmud with its cultural world.
A detailed analysis of the different conceptions of martyrdom in the Talmud as opposed to the Eastern Christian martyr accounts
Illustration of the complex ways rabbinic Judaism absorbed Christian and Zoroastrian theological ideas
Demonstration of the presence of Persian-Zoroastrian royal and mythological motifs in talmudic sources
Shortly after his mother dies of breast cancer when he is ten years old, Michael Blumenthal discovers that she was not his biological mother, and that his aunt and uncle, immigrant chicken farmers living in Vineland, New Jersey, are really his parents.
As fate would have it, his adoptive father, a German-Jewish refugee raised by a loveless and embittered stepmother after his own mother died in childbirth, has inflicted on his stepson a fate uncannily—and terrifyingly—similar to his own: Having first adopted Michael, in part, to help his dying wife, he then imposes on him the same sort of penurious and loveless stepmother whom he himself had had to survive. With these revelations, the "mysteries" that seem to have permeated Michael's childhood are laid bare, triggering a quest for belonging that will infiltrate the author's entire adult life.
Patrick J. Ryan SJ Catholic University of America Press, 2018 Library of Congress BL80.3.R93 2018 | Dewey Decimal 201.4
Amen: Jews, Christians, and Muslims Keep Faith with God examines faith as it is understood by Jews, Christians and Muslims; it does not aim to be a work of systematic theology or a lengthy explication of the contents of different faith traditions. It offers Jews, Christians and Muslims several approaches to faith as a category of human experience open to God: a faithful God who reaches out to grasp the faithful human being at the same time that the faithful human being reaches out to grasp a faithful God. This two-sided faith, divine and human, lies at the center of each faith tradition. The book examines faith as one might examine a gem, gazing at different facets in turn.
"Displays the full range of informed, thoughtful opinion on the place of Jews in the American politics of identity."
---David A. Hollinger, Preston Hotchkis Professor of American History, University of California, Berkeley
"A fascinating anthology whose essays crystallize the most salient features of American Jewish life in the second half of the twentieth century."
---Beth S. Wenger, Katz Family Associate Professor of American Jewish History and Director of the Jewish Studies Program, University of Pennsylvania
"A wonderful collection of important essays, indispensable for understanding the searing conflicts over faith, familial, and political commitments marking American Jewry's journey through the paradoxes of the post-Holocaust era."
---Michael E. Staub, Professor of English, Baruch College, CUNY, and author of Torn at the Roots: The Crisis of Jewish Liberalism in Postwar America
"This provocative anthology offers fascinating essays on Jewish culture, politics, religion, feminism, and much more. It is a must-read for all those interested in the intersection of Jewish life and identity politics in the modern period."
---Joyce Antler, Samuel Lane Professor of American Jewish History and Culture, Brandeis University
"This collection of essays invites the reader to engage with some of the best writing and thinking about American Jewish life by some of the finest scholars in the field. Deborah Moore's introduction offers an important framework to understand not only the essays, but the academic and political contexts in which they are rooted."
---Riv-Ellen Prell, Professor and Chair, American Studies, University of Minnesota, and editor of Women Remaking American Judaism
This collection of essays explores changes among American Jews in their self-understanding during the last half of the 20th century.
Written by scholars who grew up after World War II and the Holocaust who participated in political struggles in the 1960s and 1970s and who articulated many of the formative concepts of modern Jewish studies, this anthology provides a window into an era of social change. These men and women are among the leading scholars of Jewish history, society and culture.
The volume is organized around contested themes in American Jewish life: the Holocaust and World War II, religious pluralism and authenticity, intermarriage and Jewish continuity. Thus, it offers one of the few opportunities for students to learn about these debates from participant scholars.
The book includes a dozen photographs of contemporary Jewish experience in the United States by acclaimed Jewish photographer Bill Aron. Like the scholars of the essays, Aron participated in struggles within the Jewish community and the Jewish counterculture in the 1970s and 1980s. His images reflect shifting perspectives toward spirituality, community, feminism, and memory culture.
The essays reflect several layers of identity politics. On one level, they interrogate the recent past of American Jews, starting with their experiences of World War II. Without the flourishing of identity politics and the white ethnic revival, many questions about American Jewish history might never have been explored. Those who adopted identity politics often saw Jews as an ethnic group in the United States, one connected both to other Americans and to Jews throughout the world and in the past. On another level, these essays express ideas nourished in universities during the turbulent 1970s and 1980s. Those years marked the expansion of Jewish studies as a field in the United States and the establishment of American Jewish studies as an area of specialization. Taken together they reveal the varied sources of American Jewish studies. Finally, one must note that in many cases these essays anticipate major books on the subject. Reading them now reveals how ideas took shape within the political pressures of the moment.
These articles teach us not only about their subject but also about how issues were framed and debated during what might be called our fin de siecle, the end of the twentieth century and beginning of the twenty-first. The authors of these articles include several, most notably Arthur Green, Alvin Rosenfield, and the late Egon Mayer, who collectively could be thought of as the founding fathers of this new generation of Jewish scholars. Green in theology, Rosenfield in literature, and Mayer in sociology influenced younger academics such as Arnold Eisen. A slightly different relationship exists among the historians. Several come to their subject though the study of American history, including Hasia Diner, Stephen Whitfield, and Jonathan Sarna, while others approach through the portal of Jewish history, such as Paula Hyman and Jeffrey Gurock.
What is the role of Judaism and Jewish existence in America? And what role does America play in matters Jewish? This anthology considers these questions and offers a look at how the diverse body of Jewish thought developed within the historical and intellectual context of America.
In this volume, editors Michael Marmur and David Ellenson bring together the distinctive voices of those who have shaped the bold and shifting soundscape of American Jewish thought over the last few generations. The contributors tackle an array of topics including theological questions; loyalty and belonging; the significance of halakhic, spiritual, and ritual practice; secularization and its discontents; and the creative recasting of Jewish peoplehood. The editors are careful to point out how a plurality of approaches emerged in response to the fundamental ruptures and challenges of continuity posed by the Holocaust, the establishment of the state of Israel, and the civil rights movement in the twentieth century.
This volume also includes a wide swath of the most distinctive currents and movements over the last eighty years: post-Holocaust theology, secular forms of Jewish spirituality, ultra-orthodoxy, American neo-orthodoxy, neo-Hasidism, feminism and queer theory, diasporist critiques of Zionism, and Zionist militancy. This collection will serve as both a testament to the creativity of American Jewish thought so far, and as an inspiration for the new thinkers of its still unwritten future.
Nathan Glazer University of Chicago Press, 1988 Library of Congress BM205.G5 1989 | Dewey Decimal 296.0973
First published in 1957, Nathan Glazer's classic, historical study of Judaism in America has been described by the New York Times Book Review as "a remarkable story . . . told briefly and clearly by an objective historical mind, yet with a fine combination of sociological insight and religious sensitivity."
Glazer's new introduction describes the drift away from the popular equation of American Judaism with liberalism during the last two decades and considers the threat of divisiveness within American Judaism. Glazer also discusses tensions between American Judaism and Israel as a result of a revivified Orthodoxy and the disillusionment with liberalism.
"American Judaism has been arguably the best known and most used introduction to the study of the Jewish religion in the United States. . . . It is an inordinately clear-sighted work that can be read with much profit to this day."—American Jewish History (1987)
A firsthand account of the American Jewish experience on the front lines of the Korean War
During the height of the Korean conflict, 1950–51, Orthodox Jewish chaplain Milton J. Rosen wrote 19 feature-length articles for Der Morgen Zhornal, a Yiddish daily in New York, documenting his wartime experiences as well as those of the servicemen under his care. Rosen was among those nearly caught in the Chinese entrapment of American and Allied forces in North Korea in late 1950, and some of his most poignant writing details the trying circumstances that faced both soldiers and civilians during that time.
As chaplain, Rosen was able to offer a unique account of the American Jewish experience on the frontlines and in the United States military while also describing the impact of the American presence on Korean citizens and their culture. His interest in Korean attitudes toward Jews is also a significant theme within these articles.
Stanley R. Rosen has translated his father’s articles into English and provides background on Milton Rosen’s military service before and after the Korean conflict. He presents an introductory overview of the war and includes helpful maps and photographs. The sum is a readable account of war and its turmoil from an astute and compassionate observer.
The only comprehensive and up-to-date look at Reform Judaism, this book analyzes the forces currently challenging the Reform movement, now the largest Jewish denomination in the United States.
To distinguish itself from Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, the Reform movement tries to be an egalitarian, open, and innovative version of the faith true to the spirit of the tradition but nonetheless fully compatible with modern secular life. Promoting itself in this way, Reform Judaism has been tremendously successful in recruiting a variety of people—intermarried families, feminists, gays and lesbians, and interracial families among others—who resist more traditional forms of worship.
As an unintended result of this success, the movement now struggles with an identity crisis brought on by its liberal theology, which teaches that each Jew is free to practice Judaism more or less as he or she pleases. In the absence of the authority that comes from a theology based on a commanding, all-powerful God, can Reform Judaism continue to thrive? Can it be broadly inclusive and still be uniquely and authentically Jewish?
Taking this question as his point of departure, Dana Evan Kaplan provides a broad overview of the American Reform movement and its history, theology, and politics. He then takes a hard look at the challenges the movement faces as it attempts to reinvent itself in the new millennium. In so doing, Kaplan gives the reader a sense of where Reform Judaism has come from, where it stands on the major issues, and where it may be going.
Addressing the issues that have confronted the movement—including the ordination of women, acceptance of homosexuality, the problem of assimilation, the question of rabbinic officiation at intermarriages, the struggle for acceptance in Israel, and Jewish education and others—Kaplan sheds light on the connection between Reform ideology and cultural realities. He unflinchingly, yet optimistically, assesses the movement’s future and cautions that stormy weather may be ahead.
Chaim Waxman Temple University Press, 1983 Library of Congress E184.J5W285 1983 | Dewey Decimal 973.04924
The book is a social history and sociology of American Jewry. It provides an up-to-date analysis of the contemporary American Jewish community, an analysis that includes educational, occupational, income, and political patterns of American Jews; the American Jewish family; anti-semitism; the relationship between American Jews and Israel; and the recent immigration of Soviet, Israeli, and Iranian Jews to the USA.
In synthesizing a vast array of empirical studies, the author argues that while American Jews have been successful in their quest to integrate into the American social system, recent developments both in the American social and cultural system, at large, and within the Jewish community, in particular, indicate that this ethno-religious group is confronting the challenge to its continuity and its manifesting survivalist strengths which were not readily apparent in earlier generations.
America's Jews in Transition should interest students in a wide range of fields, among them sociology, ethnic studies, Jewish studies, American studies, and religious studies. Because of its breadth and the freshness of its material, the book should also appeal to the general reader.
In this fascinating piece of scholarly detective work, biblical scholar Savina J. Teubal peels away millenia of patriarchal distortion to reveal the lost tradition of biblical matriarchs. In Ancient Sisterhood: The Lost Traditions of Hagar and Sarah (originally published as Hagar the Egyptian), she shows that Hagar, the mother of Ishmael, was actually lady-in-waiting to the priestess Sarah and participated in an ancient Near Eastern custom of surrogate motherhood.
Ancient Sisterhood cites evidence that Hebrew women actually enjoyed the privileges and sanctity of their own religious practices. These practices, however, were gradually eroded and usurped by the establishment of patriarchal monarchies that were based on militaristic conquest and power. Teubal examines the figures of Hagar and Sarah from a feminist perspective that combines thorough scholarship with an informed and detailed understanding of the cultural and religious influences from which the mysterious biblical figure of Hagar emerged. She looks at Hagar's important role in the genesis of Hebrew culture, her role as mother of the Islamic nations, and her power as a matriarch as opposed to her apparent status as a concubine.
Teubal posits two distinct sources for the Hagar episodes: Hagar as companion to Sarah and an unknown woman whom she refers to as the desert matriarch. She explores whether Hagar was a slave to Abraham or Sarah, the differences between Hagar and the desert matriarch, and the obscurantism of these important elements in biblical texts. Teubal sheds considerable light on two central figures of these world religions and “the disassociation of woman from her own female religious experience.”
Studies of Nazi persecution and destruction of Jews have to date largely been based on the accounts of men. And yet gender difference in Western society is so profound that women and men seem to have divergent experiences, speak different languages, and see and hear in dissimilar ways. Denise de Costa's book explores the significance of sex and gender differences in the construction of history and society-specifically, the Nazi genocide of Jews in World War II-by focusing on the writing of two Jewish women, Anne Frank and Etty Hillesum.
De Costa argues that although both of these writers have received much attention, little has been done to understand how the significant difference occasioned by both gender and Jewishness helps to define cultural or personal identity in relation to the Holocaust. De Costa uses a variety of psychoanalytic and feminist theories to approach the writing of Frank and Hillesum. Critiquing as well as employing the concepts of Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous, Luce Irigaray, and Simone de Beauvoir among others, she presents a detailed and rich discussion of each writer.
De Costa approaches Anne Frank largely from a psychoanalytical perspective that emphasizes the function of writing itself in the development of self-identity. For Etty Hillesum, she is more concerned with how writing establishes a philosophy, and a faith, that can entertain and is indeed based in doubleness and paradox. Her assessment of these two writers makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the Holocaust as a cultural and historical phenomenon, of the role of writing in the production and expression of gendered identity, and of the complex relation between women, writing, and culture.
In turn-of-the-century Vienna, Karl Kraus created a bold new style of media criticism, penning incisive satires that elicited both admiration and outrage. Kraus’s spectacularly hostile critiques often focused on his fellow Jewish journalists, which brought him a reputation as the quintessential self-hating Jew. The Anti-Journalist overturns this view with unprecedented force and sophistication, showing how Kraus’s criticisms form the center of a radical model of German-Jewish self-fashioning, and how that model developed in concert with Kraus’s modernist journalistic style.
Paul Reitter’s study of Kraus’s writings situates them in the context of fin-de-siècle German-Jewish intellectual society. He argues that rather than stemming from anti-Semitism, Kraus’s attacks constituted an innovative critique of mainstream German-Jewish strategies for assimilation. Marshalling three of the most daring German-Jewish authors—Kafka, Scholem, and Benjamin—Reitter explains their admiration for Kraus’s project and demonstrates his influence on their own notions of cultural authenticity.
The Anti-Journalist is at once a new interpretation of a fascinating modernist oeuvre and a heady exploration of an important stage in the history of German-Jewish thinking about identity.
In 1898, the Dreyfus Affair plunged French society into a yearlong frenzy. In Paris and provincial villages throughout the country, angry crowds paraded through the streets, threatening to attack Jews and destroy Jewish-owned businesses. Anger about the imagined power of Jewish capital, as well as fears of treason and racial degeneration, made anti-Semitism a convenient banner behind which social and political factions could fall in line. Anti-Semitic feelings that had been simmering in France for decades came boiling to the surface.
Here Pierre Birnbaum guides readers on a tour of France during this crisis. He shows that in the midst of violence, Jewish citizens bravely and effectively defended themselves and were aided by a police force determined to maintain order. Birnbaum paints a vivid portrait of French Jewish culture at the time and explains why the French state remained strong in this time of widespread unrest.
This is the first book to offer a translation into English-as well as a critical study-of a Spanish treatise written around 1650 by Rabbi Saul Levi Morteira, whose most renowned congregant was Baruch Spinoza. Aimed at encouraging the practice of halachic Judaism among the Amsterdam-based descendants of conversos, Spanish and Portuguese Sephardic Jews who had been forced to convert to Christianity, the book stages a dialogue between two conversos that ultimately leads to a vision of a Jewish homeland-an outcome that Morteira thought was only possible through his program for rejudaisation.
Explore how the vivid and creative Armenian spiritual tradition shaped biblical stories to serve new needs
Michael E. Stone’s latest book includes texts from Armenian manuscripts that are relevant to the development and growth of biblical themes and subjects. Most of these texts have not been published previously. Stone has collected a fascinating corpus of texts about biblical heroes, such as Joseph and Jonah, Nathan the Prophet, and Asaph the Psalmist. In addition, he has included documents illustrating particular points of the biblical story. This work reflects not just on how the Bible was interpreted in medieval times, but also how its stories and details were shaped by and served the needs of the vivid and creative Armenian spiritual tradition.
Expanded stories from Exodus
Introductions,translations, and notes
Insights into the Armenian "Embroidered Bible," through which many biblical incidents were known to Armenian literature, art, and thought
In Aseneth of Egypt: The Composition of a Jewish Narrative, Patricia D. Ahearne-Kroll challenges reliance on reconstructed texts in previous scholarship on the book of Joseph and Aseneth. After outlining the problems with previous prototypes of the Hellenistic narrative, she proposes a way to talk about the story in its initial setting without ignoring the manuscript evidence. Her thorough analysis of the evidence reveals how Joseph and Aseneth reflects the literary impulse of Greek-speaking Jewish writers to redescribe their identity in Egypt and Judean connections to the land of Egypt, while incorporating Ptolemaic strategies of legitimation of power. In the end, Ahearne-Kroll concludes that the base storyline preserved in all the copies of this story demonstrates that it was written for Jewish communities living in Hellenistic Egypt.
A focus on Hellenistic stories of heroic ancestors
A discussion of the possible lives of Jews in Hellenistic Egypt drawn from the narrative of Aseneth
An examination of the complexities involved in dating the composition of literary texts