The Future of the Jewish Past
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Brandeis University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Frontispiece
This book came about thanks to an extraordinary opportunity created by Charles R. Bronfman and the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, in collaboration with Brandeis University. Mr. Bronfman created a chair at Brandeis for someone to join the faculty...
Introduction: From Memory to History
Once upon a time, the past was present, and the future was redemptive and hopeful. Never mind that the present was itself forgettable; the premodern world was probably not fun to inhabit, especially for Jews. Still, this arc of time and the way Jews related to it were useful...
1. Mitzvah: Memory as Commandedness
Our first task is to try to come up with a theory of Jewish memory. What does it mean for a people to have memory? How does collective memory interface with the memories that each of us carries around? And once we establish a sense of collective memory...
2. Yir’ah: Awe as Inquiry and Discernment
In examining the essential relationship between memory and mitzvah, we considered how we recount the events of our collective and mythical past and what obligations become attendant upon us with that recollection. Memory is always selective and at the same time...
3. Ahavah: Love as Desire and Purpose
And yet, awe only tells half the story. In classical sources, awe (yir’ah) is paired with love (ahavah). These two impulses are meant to characterize behavioral stances we take in performance of the commandments—so we do commandments motivated by love and...
4. Hurban: Cataclysm and Creativity
It would be impossible to write a book about Jewish memory in the shadow of the twentieth century and not devote special attention to the memory of the Holocaust, just as it would be remiss to take stock of the history of Jewish memory and not consider the central...
5. Teshuva: Returning as Reimagining
In this caricature by Leo Strauss, the Jew is a cliché—the last believer in the idea of the universal society and desperately eager to join it, only to discover, in a moment of great disenchantment, that it does not exist. The grass only grows greener outside the imposed...
6. Enlightenment: A Parable
A tale is told in the Talmud...
Conclusion: . . . and Back Again: What Will Be the Future of the Jewish Past?
Recently the New York Times reported on the famous shtetl photographs taken and published by Roman Vishniac. The journalist Alana Newhouse had dug up the records at Vishniac’s daughter’s...
My goal in writing this book has been to introduce a system and a conceptual framework to think about the Jewishness of our time. The reader may understandably now be asking: to what does this translate? What are the programmatic and specific takeaways that...
I am aware that this book is unusual, that its balance between the use of scholarly categories and its concern for lived Judaism makes it anomalous to both enterprises. The book was designed to be accessible to broader audiences as compared to most academic...
Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2012
OCLC Number: 791642953
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