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American Rabbi

The Life and Thought of Jacob B. Agus

Steven Katz

Publication Year: 1997

American Rabbi provides a comprehensive and insightful assessment of Rabbi Jacob Agus' standing as a notable Jewish thinker. The volume brings together original writings by a range of distinguished contributors to consider the main aspects of Agus' life and work in detail and to flesh out the broad and repercussive themes of his corpus. Taken as a whole, they present a broad and substantial picture of a remarkable American Rabbi and scholar, illuminating Agus' committment to Jewish people everywhere, his profound and unwavering spirituality, his continual reminders of the very real dangers of pseudo-messianism and misplaced romantic zeal, and his willingness to take politically and religiously unpopular stands.

Formulated as a companion volume to The Essential Agus, which presents selections of Agus' own writings, the contributors' analyses are based on specific selections of Agus' work which appear in The Essential Agus. Though each volume stands on its own, they are closely interconnected and readers will benefit from consulting both works.

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii

The present collection of original essays on the life and thought of Rabbi Jacob B. Agus was commissioned by the Rabbi Jacob B. Agus Foundation of Baltimore, Maryland. Along with this collection, a second volume, an anthology of selections...


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pp. ix-x

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1. Jacob B. Agus: An Introductory Overview

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pp. 1-36

JACOB AGUS (Agushewitz) was born into a distinguished rabbinical family in the month of Heshvan 5671—corresponding to November 2, 1911—in the shtetl of Sislevitch (Swislocz), situated in the Grodno Dubornik region of Poland. Descended through...

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2. Jacob B. Agus: A Personal Portrait

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pp. 37-66

IN THE EARLY 1950s a young professor delivered a lecture before Congregation Beth Abraham United in Dayton, Ohio. After the talk, a member approached him. "I miss Rabbi Agus," said the man. "When he was here I attended services every Friday...

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3. Jacob B. Agus as a Student of Modern Jewish Philosophy

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pp. 67-84

ANYONE PRIVILEGED to have known the late Rabbi Jacob B. Agus, as was I, will certainly agree that he was a man of immense personal and intellectual integrity, and one who had the commensurate courage such integrity requires. His courage was...

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4. Jacob B. Agus as a Student of Medieval Jewish Philosophy and Mysticism

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pp. 85-108

IN THE PREFACE to his seminal work The Evolution of Jewish Thought,1 Jacob Agus set the agenda for his entire intellectual oeuvre. It was comprised of two explicit, and one implicit, goals. Of the first goal he wrote...

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5. Jacob B. Agus and Jewish-Christian Dialogue: A View from the Christian Side

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pp. 109-129

JACOB AGUS began a short piece selected by Jakob Petuchowski to open his 1988 book When Jews and Christians Meet with a saying of a great Hasidic sage...

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6. Jacob Agus' Ideology of American Judaism: American Jews or Jewish Americans?

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pp. 130-148

WRITING ABOUT THE WORK of David Neumark, Jacob Agus said that although Neumark s contributions to the study of Jewish philosophy are invaluable, he never became an independent philosopher.1 One can say of Agus himself that his contributions...

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7. The Concept of God in the Theology of Jacob B. Agus

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pp. 149-164

IN HIS introduction to the Daily Prayer Book of Beth El Congregation, Rabbi Jacob Agus, spiritual leader of Beth El, wrote of prayer as "the integration of personality," describing worship as a process in which "all that is fragmentary...

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8. Jacob B. Agus on the Meaning of Jewish History and Experience

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pp. 165-181

THE READER who approaches the voluminous writings of Jacob Agus for the first time cannot but be struck by the sheer range of his concerns and the scope of his knowledge. There is hardly a single philosophical, theological...

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9. Jacob B. Agus and the Conservative Movement

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pp. 182-194

THE DEFINING ERA of Conservative Judaism in the United States was the two decades after the end of the Second World War. This was the period in which the movement of the Jewish population to new neighborhoods and particularly...

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10. Jewish Law as Standards

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pp. 195-223

JACOB AGUS was among the first to develop a philosophy of Jewish law distinctive to Conservative Judaism. Zacharias Frankel had long since argued for the legitimacy of change within Jewish law while still maintaining loyalty to it, and others...

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11. Jacob B. Agus as Pulpit Rabbi

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pp. 224-236

HAD HE BEEN BORN thirty years later than he was, it is quite likely that Jacob Agus would never have become a pulpit rabbi at all. His scholarly proclivities would probably have led him to become a professor of Judaic studies, an option...

Bibliography of the Works of Jacob B. Agus

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pp. 237-244

E-ISBN-13: 9780814763568
E-ISBN-10: 0814763561
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814746936
Print-ISBN-10: 0814746934

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 1997

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Subject Headings

  • Agus, Jacob B. (Jacob Bernard), 1911-1986.
  • Rabbis -- United States -- Biography.
  • Jewish scholars -- United States -- Biography.
  • Judaism -- United States.
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