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With contributions from a dozen American and European scholars, this volume presents an overview of Jewish writing in post--World War II Europe. Striking a balance between close readings of individual texts and general surveys of larger movements and underlying themes, the essays portray Jewish authors across Europe as writers and intellectuals of multiple affiliations and hybrid identities. Aimed at a general readership and guided by the idea of constructing bridges across national cultures, this book maps for English-speaking readers the productivity and diversity of Jewish writers and writing that has marked a revitalization of Jewish culture in France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, and Russia.
Circumcision, Kosher Butchering, and Jewish Political Life in Germany, 1843–1933
In Contested Rituals, Robin Judd shows that circumcision and kosher butchering became focal points of political struggle among the German state, its municipal governments, Jews, and Gentiles. In 1843, some German-Jewish fathers refused to circumcise their sons, prompting their Jewish communities to reconsider their standards for membership. Nearly a century later, in 1933, another blood ritual, kosher butchering, served as a political and cultural touchstone when the Nazis built upon a decades-old controversy concerning the practice and prohibited it.
In describing these events and related controversies that raged during the intervening years, Judd explores the nature and escalation of the ritual debates as they transcended the boundaries of the local Jewish community to include non-Jews who sought to protect, restrict, or prohibit these rites. Judd argues that the ritual debates grew out of broad shifts in German politics: the competition between local and regional authority following unification, the possibility of government intervention in private affairs, the place of religious difference in the modern age, and the relationship of the German state to its religious and ethnic minorities, including Catholics. Anti-Semitism was only one factor driving the debates and it often functioned in unexpected ways. Judd gives us a new understanding of the formation of German political systems, the importance of religious practices to Jewish political leadership, the interaction of Jews with the German government, and the reaction of Germans of all faiths to political change.
Books on Israel, Volume II
By comparing these and other modern issues to those of ancient Israel, Sharkansky shows that Israel’s deeply-rooted problems as a nation are likely to continue, occasionally punctuated by violent outbursts.
This is a translation from the Italian of a study of the work of Hermann Cohen, a figure generally recognized as the most significant Jewish thinker of the past 100 years. This is a translation of Andrea Poma’s La filosofia critica di Hermann Cohen, which first appeared in 1988. During the second half of the nineteenth century, the German philosophical scene had witnessed the extinction of absolute idealism and the predominance of the naive materialism of the adherents of scientism. Hermann Cohen’s philosophy stood out in favor of the value of critical reason, on which scientific idealism, in the form of a revival of authentic rational idealism, is founded. His standpoint rejected the opposite extremes of both absolute idealism and naive materialism. The Marburg school, one of the great German philosophical schools at the turn of the century, grew out of Cohen’s philosophy, which inspired a large number of twentieth-century thinkers. Cohen was, without doubt, one of the principal adherents of the “return to Kant” as a fundamental point of reference of “Critical Idealism.” He based this revival on a long, historical, philosophical tradition, represented by Plato, Descartes, Leibniz, and others, apart from Kant himself. Although Cohen saw himself as Kant’s heir, he went beyond Kant in his development and deepening of the meaning of critical philosophy in his own philosophical system. He followed an original path, which revealed a great deal of the hitherto concealed potential of this type of philosophy. In his later years Cohen turned his attention mainly to the philosophy of religion, but his last works are not simply what would be termed the Summa theologica of contemporary Judaism. They also belong to a continuous line connecting them to his previous thought, deepening the meaning and extending the potentiality of critical philosophy and its connection to religious problems, satisfactorily developing the aspect of thought on the limit of reason, which, for critical philosophy, is a necessary complement to thought within the limits of reason.
The Christian World in Israel's Foreign Policy, 1948-1967
The official establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948 constituted the realization of the Zionist vision, but military victory left in its wake internal and external survival issues that would threaten this historic achievement for decades to come. The refusal of the international community to recognize the political, geographic, and demographic results of the War of Independence presented Israel with a permanent regional security threat, while isolating and alienating it in the international arena. One of the most formidable problems Israeli foreign policy faced was the stance of the Christian world toward the new state. Attitudes ranged from hostility and categorical non-recognition by the Catholic Church, through Protestant ambivalence, to Evangelical support. Cross on the Star of David presents the first scholarly analysis, based on newly declassified documents, of Israeli policymaking on this issue. Uri Bialer focuses on the impact that modes of thinking rooted in the historical tradition of Jewish-Christian interactions had on Israeli policymakers and concludes that they were not innocent of the perceptions and biases that influenced the Christian world's behavior toward Israel. The result is a fine-grained, original interpretation of an important dimension of Israeli foreign policy from the founding of the State to the 1967 War.
In this pathbreaking study Jeffrey L. Rubenstein reconstructs the cultural milieu of the rabbinic academy that produced the Babylonian Talmud, or Bavli, which quickly became the authoritative text of rabbinic Judaism and remains so to this day. Unlike the rabbis who had earlier produced the shorter Palestinian Talmud (the Yerushalmi) and who had passed on their teachings to students individually or in small and informal groups, the anonymous redactors of the Bavli were part of a large institution with a distinctive, isolated, and largely undocumented culture. The Culture of the Babylonian Talmud explores the cultural world of these Babylonian rabbis and their students through the prism of the stories they included in the Bavli, showing how their presentation of earlier rabbinic teachings was influenced by their own values and practices. Among the topics explored in this broad-ranging work are the hierarchical structure of the rabbinic academy, the use of dialectics in teaching, the functions of violence and shame within the academy, the role of lineage in rabbinic leadership, the marital and family lives of the rabbis, and the relationship between the rabbis and the rest of the Jewish population. This book provides a unique and new perspective on the formative years of rabbinic Judaism and will be essential reading for all students of the Talmud.
Yiddish Letter Manuals from Russia and America
At the turn of the 20th century, Jewish families scattered by migration could stay in touch only through letters. Jews in the Russian Empire and America wrote business letters, romantic letters, and emotionally intense family letters. But for many Jews who were unaccustomed to communicating their public and private thoughts in writing, correspondence was a challenge. How could they make sure their spelling was correct and they were organizing their thoughts properly? A popular solution was to consult brivnshtelers, Yiddish-language books of model letters. Dear Mendl, Dear Reyzl translates selections from these model-letter books and includes essays and annotations that illuminate their role as guides to a past culture.
Jews in Bohemia between the Enlightenment and the Soah
This book elucidates what made the Jews in Bohemia (the historic name for the western part of the Czech lands) forerunners of the demographic transition. It examines demographic data from the mid-18th to the mid-20th century, and looks for what made Bohemian Jews’ data distinct from the trends observed in the gentile community and among Jews elsewhere. The unique demographic behavior started when Jews were still living in segregated ghettos. From the 18th century onwards, Bohemian Jews developed patterns of decreasing mortality and fertility that were not observed among the gentile majority.