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Master Bible scholar and teacher Marc Brettler argues that today's contemporary readers can only understand the ancient Hebrew Scripture by knowing more about the culture that produced it. And so Brettler unpacks the literary conventions, ideological assumptions, and historical conditions that inform the biblical text and demonstrates how modern critical scholarship and archaeological discoveries shed light on this fascinating and complex literature. Brettler surveys representative biblical texts from different genres to illustrate how modern scholars have taught us to "read" these texts. Using the "historical-critical method" long popular in academia, he guides us in reading the Bible as it was read in the biblical period, independent of later religious norms and interpretive traditions. Understanding the Bible this way lets us appreciate it as an interesting text that speaks in multiple voices on profound issues. This book is the first "Jewishly sensitive" introduction to the historical-critical method. Unlike other introductory texts, the Bible that this book speaks about is the Jewish one -- with the three-part TaNaKH arrangement, the sequence of books found in modern printed Hebrew editions, and the chapter and verse enumerations used in most modern Jewish versions of the Bible. In an afterword, the author discusses how the historical-critical method can help contemporary Jews relate to the Bible as a religious text in a more meaningful way.
The First Crusade and the Jews
In the Year 1096 presents a clear, highly readable chronicle of the events of 1096. Noted teacher and historian Robert Chazan brings readers to critical moments in Jewish history, illuminating the events themselves, their antecedents, and their far-reaching consequences. Equally important, his book assesses the significance of the events of 1096 within the larger framework of Jewish history, including both the scope of persecution and the record of Jewish resistance.
Muslim-Jewish relations in the United States, Israel, and Europe are tenuous. Jews and Muslims struggle to understand one another and know little about each other's traditions and beliefs. Firestone explains the remarkable similarities and profound differences between Judaism and Islam, the complex history of Jihad, the legal and religious positions of Jews in the world of Islam, how various expressions of Islam (Sunni, Shi`a, Sufi, Salafi, etc.) regard Jews, the range of Muslim views about Israel, and much more. He addresses these issues and others with candor and integrity, and he writes with language, symbols, and ideas that make sense to Jews. Exploring these subjects in today's vexed political climate is a delicate undertaking. Firestone draws on the research and writings of generations of Muslim, Jewish, and other scholars, as well as his own considerable expertise in this field. The book's tone is neither disparaging, apologetic, nor triumphal. Firestone provides many original sources in translation, as well as an appendix of additional key sources in context. Most importantly, this book is readable and reasoned, presenting to readers for the first time the complexity of Islam and its relationship toward Jews and Judaism.
Vanessa Ochs invites her readers to explore how Jewish practice can be more meaningful through renewing, reshaping, and even creating new rituals, such as naming ceremonies for welcoming baby girls, healing services, Miriam's cup, mitzvah days, egalitarian wedding practices, and commitment ceremonies. We think of rituals -- the patterned ways of doing things that have shared and often multiple meanings -- as being steeped in tradition and therefore unalterable. But rituals have always been reinvented. When we perform ancient rituals in a particular place and time they are no longer quite the same rituals they once were. Each is a debut, an innovation: this Sabbath meal, this Passover seder, this wedding -- firsts in their own unique ways. In the last 30 years there has been a surge of interest in reinventing ritual, in what is called minhag America. Ochs describes the range and diversity of interest in this Jewish American experience and examines how it reflects tradition as it revives Jewish culture and faith. And she shows us how to create our own ritual objects, sacred spaces, ceremonies, and liturgies that can be paths to greater personal connection with history and with holiness: baby-naming ceremonies for girls, divorce rituals, Shabbat practices, homemade haggadahs, ritual baths, healing services. Through these and more, we see that American Judaism is a dynamic cultural process very much open to change and a source of great personal and communal meaning.
Portrait of the City in the Second Temple Period (538 B.C.E. – 70 C.E.)
Jerusalem in the Second Temple period experienced dramatic growth as it achieved unprecedented political, religious, and spiritual prominence. Lee Levine traces the development of Jerusalem during this time -- through its urban, demographic, topographical, and archaeological features, its political regimes, public institutions, and its cultural and religious life.
A JPS Guide
This new volume in the acclaimed JPS Guides series is an invaluable companion to the Jewish Bible, providing readers with ready access to important facts and Bible basics: # how the Bible became the "Bible"; its origins, content, and organization # distinctions between the Jewish Bible (the Tanakh) and Christian Bibles # a short history of Bible translations, and how they differ # Bible commentaries # storytelling, poetry, law, prophecy, and Wisdom literature # popular methods of Bible study # finding meaning through midrash In addition, there are summaries of all the biblical books; dozens of text boxes; an extensive glossary of Bible terms, places, and people; maps, charts, and tables; and large foldout timelines and family trees--all in color. Contributions are by leading Bible scholars and educators: Marc Zvi Brettler, Joyce Eisenberg, Michael Fishbane, Michael V. Fox, Leonard Greenspoon, Jill Hammer, Stuart Kelman, Adriane Leveen, David Mandel, Lionel Moses, Shalom Paul, Benjamin Edidin Scolnic, Ellen Scolnic, David E. S. Stein, Barry Dov Walfish, and Andrea Weiss.
a companion for all seasons
Throughout the ages, Jews have connected legends to particular days of the Hebrew calendar. Abraham's birth, the death of Rachel, and the creation of light are all tales that are linked to a specific day and season. The Jewish Book of Days invites readers to experience the connection between sacred story and nature's rhythms, through readings designed for each and every day of the year. These daily readings offer an opportunity to live in tune with the wisdom of the past while learning new truths about the times we live in today. Using the tree as its central metaphor, The Jewish Book of Days is divided into eight chapters of approximately forty-five days each. These sections represent the tree's stages of growth--seed, root, shoot, sap, bud, leaf, flower, and fruit--and also echo the natural cadences of each season. Each entry has three components: a biblical quote for the day; a midrash on the biblical quote or a Jewish tradition related to that day; and commentary relating the text to the cycles of the year. The author includes an introduction that analyzes the different months and seasons of the Hebrew calendar and explains the textual sources used throughout. Appendixes provide additional material for leap years, equinoxes, and solstices. A section on seasonal meditations offers a new way to approach the divine every day.
What are our obligations and rights to our own bodies? What does Judaism say about tattoos? Piercings? About our obligations to exercise and eat properly? What about smoking? Alcohol? Recreational drugs? Who owns our organs? What about our eggs and sperm? If resources are limited, whose body comes first and how do we decide? Why do so many young Jews suffer from eating disorders? Each volume in this series presents traditional and contemporary sources on specific topics, followed by hypothetical cases and study questions to provoke discussion. Supplementing these are brief essays written by a diverse group -- political figures and journalists, business professionals and authors, scholars and artists, young voices and old, traditional believers and iconoclasts. As a conclusion, Dorff and Newman present their own reflections, providing a counterpoint to the contributors' perspectives. These voices from the Jewish tradition and today's Jewish community give us new questions and perspectives to think about and encourage us to consider our moral choices in a new light.
Is it O.K. to be wealthy? How do we know when we have too much? Enough? Is wealth relative--are those born into wealth entitled to accumulate more money than those born in poorer circumstances? What are we obligated to do with our money? How much are we supposed to give to charity? Can Jewish charitable institutions accept money that may be "tainted"? How big a role should income play in our identity, in our life plan, in our pursuit of happiness? Each volume in this series presents traditional and contemporary sources on specific topics, followed by hypothetical cases and study questions to provoke discussion. Supplementing these are brief essays written by a diverse group -- political figures and journalists, business professionals and authors, scholars and artists, young voices and old, traditional believers and iconoclasts. As a conclusion, Dorff and Newman present their own reflections, providing a counterpoint to the contributors' perspectives. These voices from the Jewish tradition and today's Jewish community give us new questions and perspectives to think about and encourage us to consider our moral choices in a new light.
How do we use power once we’ve gained it? Is it completely for our individual benefit, or do we use it to help our neighborhoods, or society at-large? What kinds of decisions must CEOs and business owners make regarding suppliers and customers? How should bosses treat workers? Teachers treat students? Parents treat children? Government treats citizens? Power dynamics affect people on a political level, a social level, and a deeply personal level as well. The newest volume in the Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices series examines these dynamics and includes essays by such fine contributors as U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, NBC Universal Television-West Coast President Marc Graboff, and author and scholar James Diamond.