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Jewish Publication Society

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JPS B'nai Mitzvah Torah Commentary

Jeffrey K. Salkin

For too many Jewish young people, bar/bat mitzvah has been the beginning of the end of their Jewish journeys. When students perceive the Torah as incomprehensible or irrelevant, many form the false impression that Judaism has nothing to say to them.

Enter the game-changer: the JPS B’nai Mitzvah Torah Commentary shows teens in their own language how Torah addresses the issues in their world. The conversational tone is inviting and dignified, concise and substantial, direct and informative. The narrative summaries, “big” ideas, model divrei Torah, haftarot commentaries, and discussion questions will engage teens in studying the Torah and haftarot, in writing divrei Torah, and in continuing to learn Torah throughout their lives—making it the book every rabbi, cantor, parent, and tutor will also want to have.

Jewish learning—for young people and adults—will never be the same. 
 

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The JPS Bible Commentary

Ecclesiastes

Authored by Michael V. Fox PhD

The Book of Ecclesiastes is part of the "wisdom literature" of the Bible. It concerns itself with universal philosophical questions, rather than events in the history of Israel and in the Hebrews' covenant with God. Koheleth, the speaker in this book, ruminates on what -- if anything -- has lasting value, and how -- if at all -- God interacts with humankind. Koheleth expresses bewilderment and frustration at life's absurdities and injustices. He grapples with the inequities that pervade the world and the frailty and limitations of human wisdom and righteousness. His awareness of these discomfiting facts coexists with a firm believe in God's rule and God's fundamental justice, and he looks for ways to define a meaningful life in a world where so much is senseless. Ecclesiastes is traditionally read on the Jewish holiday Sukkot, the harvest festival.

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The JPS Bible Commentary

Haftarot

Authored by Michael Fishbane, Ph.D.

The haftarot are an ancient part of Hebrew liturgy. These supplemental readings are excerpted from the Prophets (Nevi'im) and accompany each weekly Sabbath reading from the Torah as well as readings for special Sabbaths and festivals. Noted Bible scholar Michael Fishbane introduces each haftarah with an outline and discussion of how that passage conveys its meaning, and he follows it with observations on how it relates to the Torah portion or special occasion. Individual comments, citing classical rabbinic as well as modern commentators, highlight ambiguities and difficulties in the Hebrew text, which appears in concert with the JPS translation. The haftarot are also put into biblical context by a separate overview of all prophetic books (except Jonah) that are excerpted in the haftarah cycle.

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The JPS Commentary on the Haggadah

Historical Introduction, Translation, and Commentary

Authored by Joseph Tabory PhD

The Passover haggadah enjoys an unrivaled place in Jewish culture, both religious and secular. And of all the classic Jewish books, the haggadah is the one most "alive" today. Jews continue to rewrite, revise, and add to its text, recasting it so that it remains relevant to their lives. In this new volume in the JPS Commentary collection, Joseph Tabory, one of the world's leading authorities on the history of the haggadah, traces the development of the seder and the haggadah through the ages. The book features an extended introduction by Tabory, the classic Hebrew haggadah text side by side with its English translation, and Tabory's clear and insightful critical-historical commentary.

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The JPS Guide to Jewish Women

600 B.C.E.–1900 C.E.

Authored by Sondra Henry, Emily Taitz Ph.D., and Cheryl Tallan

This is an indispensable resource about the role of Jewish women from post-biblical times to the twentieth century. Unique in its approach, it is structured so that each chapter, which is divided into three parts, covers a specific period and geographical area. The first section of the book contains an overview, explaining how historical events affected Jews in general and Jewish women in particular. This is followed by a section of biographical entries of women of the period whose lives are set in their economic, familial, and cultural backgrounds. The third and last part of each chapter, "The World of Jewish Women," is organized by topic and covers women's activities and interests and how Jewish laws concerning women developed and changed. This comprehensive work is an easy-to-use sourcebook, synopsizing rich and diverse resources. By examining history and analyzing the dynamics of Jewish law and custom, it illuminates the circumstances of Jewish women's lives and traces the changes that have occurred throughout the centuries. It casts a new and clear light on Jewish women as individuals and sets women firmly within the context of their own cultural and historical periods. The book contains illustrations, boxed text, extensive endnotes, and indices that list each woman by name. It is ideal for women's groups and study groups as well as students and scholars.

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Judaism as a Civilization

Toward a Reconstruction of American-Jewish Life

Authored by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan

Judaism as a Civilization is widely considered the genesis of the Reconstructionist Movement, representing a watershed moment in modern Judaism. In this classic book, Mordecai Kaplan introduced a new way of looking at Judaism: as an evolving religious civilization. His approach required innovation in liturgy and ritual, elimination of obsolete customs, and adjustment in light of prevailing social, political, and cultural conditions. Kaplan felt that all Jews—traditional and liberal, religious and secular—could play a part in this “reconstruction.” Judaism as a Civilization, first published in 1934, remains one of the most original and thought-provoking contributions to modern Jewish thought.

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Judaism's Great Debates

Timeless Controversies from Abraham to Herzl

Barry L. Schwartz

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Justice for All

How the Jewish Bible Revolutionized Ethics

Jeremiah Unterman

Justice for All demonstrates that the Jewish Bible, by radically changing the course of ethical thought, came to exercise enormous influence on Jewish thought and law and also laid the basis for Christian ethics and the broader development of modern Western civilization.

Jeremiah Unterman shows us persuasively that the ethics of the Jewish Bible represent a significant moral advance over Ancient Near East cultures. Moreover, he elucidates how the Bible’s unique conception of ethical monotheism, innovative understanding of covenantal law, and revolutionary messages from the prophets form the foundation of many Western civilization ideals. Justice for All connects these timeless biblical texts to the persistent themes of our times: immigration policy, forgiveness and reconciliation, care for the less privileged, and attaining hope for the future despite destruction and exile in this world.

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A Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism Reader

Daniel M. Horwitz

An annotated anthology of Jewish mystical works, concepts, and experiences, A Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism Reader explores issues relating to what has compelled Jews to seek a more intimate relationship with God. It does this by providing readings from the most important mystical texts, accompanied by Daniel M. Horwitz’s insightful introductions and commentary. It is carefully designed to make the basic concepts and teachings of Jewish mysticism accessible to a wide audience and to ground these ideas within the broader Jewish tradition.

Horwitz’s introduction describes five major types of Jewish mysticism and includes a brief chronology of its development, with a timeline. He begins with biblical prophecy and proceeds through the early mystical movements up through current beliefs. Chapters on key subjects characterize mystical expression through the ages, such as Creation and deveikut (“cleaving to God”); the role of Torah; the erotic; inclinations toward good and evil; magic; prayer and ritual; and more. Later chapters deal with Hasidism, the great mystical revival, and twentieth-century mystics, including Abraham Isaac Kook, Kalonymous Kalman Shapira, and Abraham Joshua Heschel. A final chapter addresses today’s controversies concerning mysticism’s place within Judaism and its potential for enriching the religion.


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Kings of the Jews

The Origins of the Jewish Nation

Authored by Norman Gelb

We all know about King David and King Solomon, but what about the kings Omri and Uzziah? Of the more than fifty monarchs who sat on the throne of the Jews for over 1000 years, most of us can recall only a few. What we do remember about them has been colored by legend and embellishment. In Kings of the Jews, Norman Gelb tells us the real stories of them all. And in doing so, he reveals how a remarkably resilient people survived divisions, discord, and conquest to forge a vibrant identity that has lasted to the present day. Kings of the Jews explores some of the most dramatic periods in Jewish history: those of the united Israelite kingdom under David and Solomon, the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the Babylonian exile, and the destruction of the Second Temple and the Roman conquest of Jerusalem. With illustrations, maps, chronologies, and index.

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