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A Jewish Ceremony for Newborn Girls

The Torah’s Covenant Affirmed

Sharon R. Siegel

This engaging book offers the first in-depth analysis of the history, philosophy, and social trends that underpin modern welcoming ceremonies for newborn girls in the Jewish community. Sharon R. Siegel traces the arc of these ceremonies from their emergence in the 1970s until today. She also delves into the history of how Jewish girls have been named over the centuries and explores how this history can shape contemporary welcoming practices.

Siegel builds on the notion that modern ceremonies should focus on a newborn girl's entry into the covenant between God and Israel and examines classic Jewish texts that speak to the critical question of women's inclusion in the covenant. A bold new perspective on the relation between the covenant and male circumcision reveals why the covenantal status of Jewish women stands independent of this male rite.

Siegel formulates a vision for the next phase in the development of Jewish rituals for newborn girls by placing these new rituals within the context of Jewish law (halacha) and synthesizing a vast array of pertinent customs, imagery, and texts. Bridging traditional Jewish beliefs and modern feminist ideals, Siegel's powerful insights draw on her experiences and personal feminist philosophy. A Jewish Ceremony for Newborn Girls is an erudite and thought-provoking narrative that will inspire wide-ranging discussions about how and why to commemorate the birth of Jewish girls.

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Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court

From Brandeis to Kagan

David G. Dalin

Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court examines the lives, legal careers, and legacies of the eight Jews who have served or who currently serve as justices of the U.S. Supreme Court: Louis D. Brandeis, Benjamin Cardozo, Felix Frankfurter, Arthur Goldberg, Abe Fortas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, and Elena Kagan.

David Dalin discusses the relationship that these Jewish justices have had with the presidents who appointed them, and given the judges’ Jewish background, investigates the antisemitism some of the justices encountered in their ascent within the legal profession before their appointment, as well as the role that antisemitism played in the attendant political debates and Senate confirmation battles.

Other topics and themes include the changing role of Jews within the American legal profession and the views and judicial opinions of each of the justices on freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the death penalty, the right to privacy, gender equality, and the rights of criminal defendants, among other issues.

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A Jewish Kapo in Auschwitz

History, Memory, and the Politics of Survival

Tuvia Friling

Eliezer Gruenbaum (1908–1948) was a Polish Jew denounced for serving as a Kapo while interned at Auschwitz. He was the communist son of Itzhak Gruenbaum, the most prominent secular leader of interwar Polish Jewry who later became the chairman of the Jewish Agency’s Rescue Committee during the Holocaust and Israel’s first minister of the interior. In light of the father’s high placement in both Polish and Israeli politics, the denunciation of the younger Gruenbaum and his suspicious death during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war add intrigue to a controversy that really centers on the question of what constitutes—and how do we evaluate—moral behavior in Auschwitz.

Gruenbaum—a Jewish Kapo, a communist, an anti-Zionist, a secularist, and the son of a polarizing Zionist leader—became a symbol exploited by opponents of the movements to which he was linked. Sorting through this Rashomon-like story within the cultural and political contexts in which Gruenbaum operated, Friling illuminates key debates that rent the Jewish community in Europe and Israel from the 1930s to the 1960s.

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Jewish Philosophical Politics in Germany, 1789–1848

Sven-Erik Rose

In this book Rose illuminates the extraordinary creativity of Jewish intellectuals as they reevaluated Judaism with the tools of a German philosophical tradition fast emerging as central to modern intellectual life. While previous work emphasizes the “subversive” dimensions of German-Jewish thought or the “inner antisemitism” of the German philosophical tradition, Rose shows convincingly the tremendous resources German philosophy offered contemporary Jews for thinking about the place of Jews in the wider polity. Offering a fundamental reevaluation of seminal figures and key texts, Rose emphasizes the productive encounter between Jewish intellectuals and German philosophy. He brings to light both the complexity and the ambivalence of reflecting on Jewish identity and politics from within a German tradition that invested tremendous faith in the political efficacy of philosophical thought itself.

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Jewish Renaissance and Revival in America

Eitan P. Fishbane

In the late 1870s, shaken by rapid socioeconomic change, internal crises, and the rise of antisemitism, young Jews assumed leadership, created dozens of organizations, and inspired masses of followers. These organizations helped define the nineteenth-century Jewish awakening: cultural and religious renewal, and the promotion of Jewish education. Expanding upon the unfinished work of Leah Levitz Fishbane, this volume seeks to broaden our understanding of this period, which paved the way for new developments in American Jewish communal, cultural, and religious life.

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Jewish Rhetorics

History, Theory, Practice

Michael Bernard-Donals

This volume, the first of its kind, establishes and clarifies the significance of Jewish rhetorics as its own field and as a field within rhetoric studies. Diverse essays illuminate and complicate the editors’ definition of a Jewish rhetorical stance as allowing speakers to maintain a “resolute sense of engagement” with their fellows and their community, while also remaining aware of the dislocation from the members of those communities. Topics include the historical and theoretical foundations of Jewish rhetorics; cultural variants and modes of cultural expression; and intersections with Greco-Roman, Christian, Islamic, and contemporary rhetorical theory and practice. In addition, the contributors examine gender and Yiddish, and evaluate the actual and potential effect of Jewish rhetorics on contemporary scholarship and on the ways we understand and teach language and writing. The contributors include some of the world’s leading scholars of rhetoric, writing, and Jewish studies.

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Jewish Women in Pre-State Israel

Life History, Politics, and Culture

Ruth Kark

This fascinating interdisciplinary collection of essays brings gender issues to the foreground in order to redress a profound imbalance in the historiography of the Yishuv, the Jewish community in Palestine, and in the early years of the State of Israel. Although male discourse still dominates this field, some initial studies have begun to create an authentic and multifaceted Hebrew-Israeli voice by examining the activities and contributions of women.

This research has led to a number of basic questions: What was the reality of life for women in Jewish society in Ottoman and Mandatory Palestine (Eretz Israel), and in the early years of the State? What was the contribution of women to the renewal of Israeli society and culture? What is the place of gender perceptions in the study of the new local identity? The original articles in this anthology forge an innovative response to one or more of these questions, and reflecting the state of research in the field.

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Jews and Diaspora Nationalism

Writings on Jewish Peoplehood in Europe and the United States

A sourcebook of interpretations of Jewish diaspora nationalist thought across the ideological spectrum

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Jews and Race

Writings on Identity and Difference, 1880–1940

Mitchell B. Hart

Many people think of Jews as victims of a particular sort of racism, not as active participants in the development of racial thinking in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Yet many Jews did take up racial discourse and used it to analyze Judaism, Jewish history, and the contemporary condition of world Jewry. Race discourse generated by Jews was in part apologetic, a response to racial antisemitism; however, it also served other political and ideological needs.

Focusing primarily on works written at the height of the racial hygiene and eugenics movements in Europe and North America, this diverse anthology shows how Jewish scholars and popular writers in Europe, North America, and Palestine developed racial interpretations of Judaism and Jewish history, thereby raising fascinating and thorny issues about the nature and history of racial discourse in Europe and America. Designed for class adoption, the volume contains annotations and an introduction by the editor.

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Jews Welcome Coffee

Tradition and Innovation in Early Modern Germany

Robert Liberles

Tracing the introduction of coffee into Europe, Robert Liberles challenges long-held assumptions about early modern Jewish history and shows how the Jews harnessed an innovation that enriched their personal, religious, social, and economic lives. Focusing on Jewish society in Germany in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and using coffee as a key to understanding social change, Liberles analyzes German rabbinic rulings on coffee, Jewish consumption patterns, the commercial importance of coffee for various social strata, differences based on gender, and the efforts of German authorities to restrict Jewish trade in coffee, as well as the integration of Jews into society.

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