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Brandeis University Press
In this wide-ranging consideration of intellectual diasporas, historian Peter Burke questions what distinctive contribution to knowledge exiles and expatriates have made. The answer may be summed up in one word: deprovincialization. Historically, the encounter between scholars from different cultures was an education for both parties, exposing them to research opportunities and alternative ways of thinking. Deprovincialization was in part the result of mediation, as many émigrés informed people in their “hostland” about the culture of the native land, and vice versa. The detachment of the exiles, who sometimes viewed both homeland and hostland through foreign eyes, allowed them to notice what scholars in both countries had missed. Yet at the same time, the engagement between two styles of thought, one associated with the exiles and the other with their hosts, sometimes resulted in creative hybridization, for example, between German theory and Anglo-American empiricism. This timely appraisal is brimming with anecdotes and fascinating findings about the intellectual assets that exiles and immigrants bring to their new country, even in the shadow of personal loss.
Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi and the Writing of Jewish History
From his first book, From Spanish Court to Italian Ghetto, to his well-known volume on Jewish memory, Zakhor, to his treatment of Sigmund Freud in Freud's Moses, Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi (1932-2009) earned recognition as perhaps the greatest Jewish historian of his day, whose scholarship blended vast erudition, unfettered creativity, and lyrical beauty. This volume charts his intellectual trajectory by bringing together a mix of classic and lesser-known essays from the whole of his career. The essays in this collection, representative of the range of his writing, acquaint the reader with his research on early modern Spanish Jewry and the experience of crypto-Jews, varied reflections on Jewish history and memory, and Yerushalmi's enduring interest in the political history of the Jews. Also included are a number of little-known autobiographical recollections, as well as his only published work of fiction.
When first published in 1979, Haim Be'er's Feathers was a critical and commercial success, ushering in a period of great productivity and expansiveness in modern Hebrew literature. Now considered a classic in Israeli fiction the book is finally available to English readers worldwide. In this, his first novel, Be'er portrays the world of a deeply religious community in Jerusalem during the author's childhood and adolescence in the 1950s and 60s. The novel is filled with vivid portraits of eccentric Jerusalem characters, chief among them the book's main character, Mordecai Leder, who dreams of founding a utopian colony based on the theories of the nineteenth-century Viennese Jewish thinker Karl Popper-Lynkeus. Similar high-flying dreams inspire the family of the narrator, strict Orthodox Jews with impractical minds and adventurous souls--men such as the narrator's father, who periodically disappears from home on botanical expeditions meant to prove that the willow tree of Scripture is in fact the Australian eucalyptus.
Experimental in structure and mood, Feathers features kaleidoscopic jumps in time, back and forth in the narrator's memories from boyhood to adulthood. Its moods swing wildly from hilarity to the macabre, from familial warmth to the loneliness of adolescence. Jerusalem and its inhabitants, as well as the emotional life of the narrator, are splintered and reconstituted, shattered and patched. This fragmentation, combined with a preoccupation with death and physical dissolution and dreamlike flights of imagination, evokes an Israeli magical realism.
Feathers was chosen one of the 100 Greatest Works of Modern Jewish Literature by the National Yiddish Book Center.
This book offers a fresh perspective on classical Jewish literature by providing a gender-based, feminist reading of rabbinical anecdotes and legends. Viewing rabbinical legends as sources that generate perceptions about women and gender, Inbar Raveh provides answers to questions such as how the Sages viewed women; how they formed and molded their characterization of them; how they constructed the ancient discourse on femininity; and what the status of women was in their society. Raveh also re-creates the voices and stories of the women themselves within their sociohistorical context, moving them from the periphery to the center and exposing how men maintain power. Chapter topics include desire and control, pain, midwives, prostitutes, and myth.
A major contribution to the fields of literary criticism and Jewish studies, Raveh’s book demonstrates the possibility of appreciating the aesthetic beauty and complexity of patriarchal texts, while at the same time recognizing their limitations.
Feminist Perspectives on Orthodox Responsa Literature
This book presents, from the perspective of feminist jurisprudence and feminist and liberal bioethics, a complete study of Jewish law (halakhah) on contemporary reproductive issues such as birth control, abortion, and assisted fertility. Irshai examines these issues to probe gender-based values that underlie the interpretations and determinations reached by modern practitioners of halakhah. Her primary goal is to tell, through common halakhic tools, a different halakhic story, one that takes account of the female narrative and its missing perspective.
The Menstruant in Medieval Jewish Mysticism
This book addresses a central question in the study of Jewish mysticism in the medieval and early modern periods: why are there no known female mystics in medieval Judaism, unlike contemporaneous movements in Christianity and Islam? Sharon Faye Koren demonstrates that the male rejection of female mystical aspirations is based in deeply rooted attitudes toward corporeality and ritual purity. In particular, medieval Jewish male mystics increasingly emphasized that the changing states of the female body between ritual purity and impurity disqualified women from the quest for mystical connection with God.
Offering a provocative look at premodern rabbinical views of the female body and their ramifications for women's spiritual development, Koren compares Jewish views with medieval Christian and Muslim views of both female menstruation and the possibility of female mystical experience.
Patterns in Work, Education, and Family in Contemporary Life
In Gender and American Jews, Harriet Hartman and Moshe Hartman interpret the results of the two most recent National Jewish Population Surveys. Building on their critical work in Gender Equality and American Jews (1996), and drawing on relevant sociological work on gender, religion, and secular achievement, this new book brings their analysis of gendered patterns in contemporary Jewish life right to the present moment.
The first part of the book examines the distinctiveness of American Jews in terms of family behavior, labor-force patterns, and educational and occupational attainment. The second investigates the interrelationships between "Jewishness" and religious, economic, and family behavior, including intermarriage. Deploying an engaging assortment of charts and graphs and a rigorous grasp of statistics, the Hartmans provide a multifaceted portrait of a multidimensional population.
Women, Mediation, and Religious Arbitration
Recently, new methods of dispute resolution in matters of family law—such as arbitration, mediation, and conciliation—have created new forms of legal culture that affect minority communities throughout the world. There are now multiple ways of obtaining restitution through nontraditional alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms. For some, the emergence of ADRs can be understood as part of a broader liberal response to the challenges presented by the settlement of migrant communities in Western liberal democracies. Questions of rights are framed as “multicultural challenges” that give rise to important issues relating to power, authority, agency, and choice. Underpinning these debates are questions about the doctrine and practice of secularism, citizenship, belonging, and identity.
Gender and Justice in Family Law Disputes offers insights into how women’s autonomy and personal decision-making capabilities are expressed via multiple formal and nonformal dispute-resolution mechanisms, and as part of their social and legal lived realities. It analyzes the specific ways in which both mediation and religious arbitration take shape in contemporary and comparative family law across jurisdictions. Demarcating lines between contemporary family mediation and new forms of religious arbitration, Bano illuminates the complexities of these processes across multiple national contexts.
The Story of Worms
German and Jewish ways of life have been interwoven in Worms, Germany, for over a thousand years. Despite radical changes brought about by expulsion of Jews, wartime devastation, social advancement, cultural and religious renewal, and the Jewish community's destruction during the Holocaust, the Jewish sites of Worms display a remarkable degree of continuity, which has contributed to the development of distinct urban Jewish cultures, memories, and identities.
Tracing the recollection and invention of local Jewish historical traditions in religious commemorations, historical writings, museums, and historical monuments, and the transformation from "sites" to "sights" in the form of tourism from the Middle Ages to the present, Roemer's rich study of Worms offers a blueprint for historians interested in developing similar studies of cities over the longue duree.