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The eminent historian Patrick J. Geary has written a provocative book, based on lectures delivered at the Historical Society of Israel about the role of language and ideology in the study and history of the early Middle Ages. He includes a fascinating discussion of the rush by nationalist philologists to rediscover the medieval roots of their respective vernaculars, the rivalry between vernacular languages and Latin to act as transmitters of Christian sacred texts and administrative documents, and the rather sloppy and ad hoc emergence in different places of the vernacular as the local administrative idiom. This is a fascinating look at the weakness of language as a force for unity: ideology, church authority, and emerging secular power always trumped language.
50 Questions Every Arts Board Should Ask
A concise, practical, and timely guide for board members of arts organizations Not-for-profit arts organizations struggled to survive the recent economic recession. In this increasingly hardscrabble environment, it is absolutely imperative that the boards of these organizations function as energetically, creatively, and efficiently as possible. Michael M. Kaiser’s personal history with boards of arts organizations began when he served on the board of the Washington Opera (now the Washington National Opera) in 1983. Today, in his capacity as president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Kaiser recently completed a 50-state, 69-city Arts in Crisis tour. Board issues came up repeatedly as central to the success or failure of the organization. Drawing on these and many other conversations, nationally and internationally, Kaiser’s book offers members of boards and staffs the information they need to create the healthy atmosphere necessary to thriving arts organizations. Organized in a clear, readable, question-and-answer format, Leading Roles covers every aspect of board participation in the life of the organization, including mission and governance; fundraising and marketing responsibilities; the relationship of the board to the artistic director, executive director, and staff; and its responsibilities for planning and budgeting. Kaiser addresses boards in crisis, international boards, and boards of arts organizations of color. Throughout, he emphasizes the importance of transparency and clarity in the board’s dealings with its own members and those of the arts community of which it is a part, showing how anything less results in contentiousness that can immobilize an arts organization, or even tear it apart.
Jewish Supplementary Schools in the Twenty-First Century
At a time of heightened interest in Jewish supplementary schooling, this volume offers a path-breaking examination of how ten diverse schools have remade themselves to face the new challenges of the twenty-first century. Each written by an academic observer with the help of an experienced educator, the chapters bring these schools vividly to life by giving voice to students, parents, teachers, school directors, lay leaders, local rabbis and other key participants.
The goal of the book is to uncover the building blocks each school put into place to improve its delivery of a Jewish education. Employing qualitative research, Learning and Community is filled with moving and inspiring human-interest stories. Collectively, these portraits offer models of how schools of different sizes and configurations can maximize their impact, and in the process revitalize the form of religious and cultural education that engages the majority of Jewish children in the United States.
In this study, Weisberg uses levirate marriage (an institution that involves the union of a man and the widow of his childless brother) as described in biblical law and explicated in rabbinic Judaism as a lens to examine the status of women and attitudes toward marriage, sexuality, and reproduction in early Jewish society. While marriage generally marks the beginning of a new family unit, levirate comes into play when a family's life is cut short. As such, it offers an opportunity to study the family at a moment of breakdown and restructuring.
With her discussion rooted in rabbinic sources and commentary, Weisberg explores kinship structure and descent, the relationship between a family unit created through levirate marriage and the extended family, and the roles of individuals within the family. She also considers the position of women, asking whether it is through marriage or the bearing of children that a woman becomes part of her husband's family, and to what degree a married woman remains part of her natal family. She argues that rabbinic responses to levirate suggest that a family is an evolving entity, one that can preserve itself through realignment and redefinition.
Orthodox Jewish Men in an Egalitarian World
A provocative look at the inner world of Orthodox Jewish men who attend partnership synagogues In this illuminating book, Elana Maryles Sztokman investigates a fascinating new sociological phenomenon: Orthodox Jewish men who connect themselves to egalitarian or quasi-egalitarian religious enterprises. She examines the men who have enabled these transitions by constituting the requisite ten-man prayer quorum of Orthodoxy. By participating in “Partnership Minyanim,” these men support the reconstruction of both male and female roles without leaving the Orthodox religious world. Sztokman interrogates the ideologies and motivations of more than fifty such men in the United States, Israel, and Australia. Beginning with the “Orthodox Man Box” of conventionally constructed male behavior, she explores their struggles to navigate individualism and conformity, tradition and change. Setting their experiences in the context of gender role construction in traditional and contemporary synagogues, she shows how, for example, changes in leadership in Partnership Minyanim facilitate a fresh approach to liturgical expression, offering the possibility of reforming how modern Orthodox Jews attend services and pray.
Writings on Identity, Politics, and Culture, 1893-1958
This volume opens the canon of modern Jewish thought to the vibrant and compelling--yet all too often overlooked--writings of Jews from the Arab East, from the close of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth. Whether they identified as Sephardim, Mizrahim, anticolonialists, or Zionists, these thinkers engaged the fundamental challenges and transformations of Middle Eastern Jewry in this decisive period.
In an illuminating and provocative introduction, Moshe Behar and Zvi Ben-Dor Benite present Jewish culture and politics situated within overlapping Arabic, Islamic, and colonial contexts. They invite the reader to reconsider contemporary invocations of Levantine, Mizrahi, and Arab Jewish identities against the backdrop of earlier generations of Middle Eastern Jewish intellectuals who critically assessed or contested the implications of Western presence and Western Jewish presence in the Middle East, religion and secularization, and the rise of nationalism, communism, and Zionism, as well as the creation and meaning of the State of Israel.
Writings on Judaism, Christianity, and the Bible
German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786) is best known in the English-speaking world for his Jerusalem (1783), the first attempt to present Judaism as a religion compatible with the ideas of the Enlightenment. While incorporating much of Jerusalem, Michah Gottlieb's volume seeks to expand knowledge of Mendelssohn's thought by presenting translations of many of his other seminal writings from the German or Hebrew originals. These writings include essays, commentaries, unpublished reflections, and personal letters.
Part One includes selections from the three major controversies of Mendelssohn's life, all of which involved polemical encounters with Christian thinkers. Part Two presents selections from Mendelssohn's writings on the Bible. Part Three offers texts that illuminate Mendelssohn's thoughts on a diverse range of religious topics, including God's existence, the immortality of the soul, and miracles. Designed for class adoption, the volume contains annotations and an introduction by the editor.
Reshaping the American Jewish Landscape
A riveting study of a generational transition with major implications for American Jewish life By the end of the twentieth century, a new generation of leaders had begun to assume positions of influence within established organizations. They quickly launched a slew of new initiatives directed at their age peers. Born during the last quarter of the twentieth century, these leaders came of age in a very different America and a different Jewish world than earlier generations. Not surprisingly, their worldview and understanding of Jewish issues set them apart from their elders, as does their approach to organizing. Based upon extensive interviews and survey research, as well as an examination of the websites frequented by younger Jews and personal observation of their programs, The New Jewish Leaders presents a pioneering account of the renewal of American Jewish community. This book describes how younger Jews organize, relate to collective Jewish efforts, and think about current Jewish issues. It also offers a glimpse of how they re-envision American Jewish communal arrangements. What emerges is a fascinating exploration of Jewish community in America today—and tomorrow.
The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman
Allan Sherman was the Larry David, the Adam Sandler, the Sacha Baron Cohen of 1963. He led Jewish humor and sensibilities out of ethnic enclaves and into the American mainstream with explosively funny parodies of classic songs that won Sherman extraordinary success and acclaim across the board, from Harpo Marx to President Kennedy. In Overweight Sensation, Mark Cohen argues persuasively for Sherman's legacy as a touchstone of postwar humor and a turning point in Jewish American cultural history. With exclusive access to Allan Sherman's estate, Cohen has written the first biography of the manic, bacchanalian, and hugely creative artist who sold three million albums in just twelve months, yet died in obscurity a decade later at the age of forty-nine. Comprehensive, dramatic, stylish, and tragic, Overweight Sensation is destined to become the definitive Sherman biography.