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The Chosen Few

How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492

Maristella Botticini

In 70 CE, the Jews were an agrarian and illiterate people living mostly in the Land of Israel and Mesopotamia. By 1492 the Jewish people had become a small group of literate urbanites specializing in crafts, trade, moneylending, and medicine in hundreds of places across the Old World, from Seville to Mangalore. What caused this radical change? The Chosen Few presents a new answer to this question by applying the lens of economic analysis to the key facts of fifteen formative centuries of Jewish history. Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein offer a powerful new explanation of one of the most significant transformations in Jewish history while also providing fresh insights into the growing debate about the social and economic impact of religion.

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The Chosen People in America

A Study in Jewish Religious Ideology

Arnold M. Eisen

"This is a book of extraordinary quality and importance. In tracing the encounter of Jews (the chosen people) and America (the chosen nation).. Eisen has given the American Jewish community a new understanding of itself." -- American Jewish Archives

"... one of the most significant books on American Jewish thought written in recent years." -- Choice

What does it mean to be a Jew in America? What opportunities and what threats does the great melting pot represent for a group that has traditionally defined itself as "a people that must dwell alone"? Although for centuries the notion of "The Chosen People" sustained Jewish identity, America, by offering Jewish immigrants an unprecedented degree of participation in the larger society, threatened to erode their Jewish identity and sense of separateness.
Arnold M. Eisen charts the attempts of American Jewish thinkers to adapt the notion of chosenness to an American context. Through an examination of sermons, essays, debates, prayer-book revisions, and theological literature, Eisen traces the ways in which American rabbis and theologians -- Reconstructionist, Conservative, and Orthodox thinkers -- effected a compromise between exclusivity and participation that allowed Jews to adapt to American life while simultaneously enhancing Jewish tradition and identity.

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Christianity and the Holocaust of Hungarian Jewry

Moshe Herczl

The complicity of the Hungarian Christian church in the mass extermination of Hungarian Jews by the Nazis is a largely forgotten episode in the history of the Holocaust. Using previously unknown correspondence and other primary source materials, Moshe Y. Herczl recreates the church's actions and its disposition toward Hungarian Jewry. Herczl provides a scathing indictment of the church's lack of compassion toward—and even active persecution of—Hungary's Jews during World War II.

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Colors of Veracity

A Quest for Truth in China and Beyond

Vera Schwarcz

In Colors of Veracity, Vera Schwarcz condenses four decades of teaching and scholarship about China to raise fundamental questions about the nature of truth and history. In clear and vivid prose, she addresses contemporary moral dilemmas with a highly personal sense of ethics and aesthetics. Drawing on classical sources in Hebrew and Chinese (as well as several Greek and Japanese texts), Schwarcz brings deep and varied cultural references to bear on the question of truth and falsehood in human consciousness. An attentiveness to connotations and nuance is apparent throughout her work, which redefines both the Jewish understanding of emet (a notion of truth that encompasses authenticity) and the Chinese commitment to zhen (a vision of the real that comprises the innermost sincerity of the seeker’s heart-mind). Truth matters, even if it cannot be mapped in its totality. Veracity is shown again and again to be neither black nor white. Schwarcz’ accomplishment is a subtle depiction of “fractured luminosity,” which inspires and sustains the moral conviction of those who pursue truth against all odds.

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Coming of Age in Jewish America

Bar and Bat Mitzvah Reinterpreted

Patricia Keer Munro

The Jewish practice of bar mitzvah dates back to the twelfth century, but this ancient cultural ritual has changed radically since then, evolving with the times and adapting to local conditions. For many Jewish-American families, a child’s bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah is both a major social event and a symbolic means of asserting the family’s ongoing connection to the core values of Judaism. Coming of Age in Jewish America takes an inside look at bar and bat mitzvahs in the twenty-first century, examining how the practices have continued to morph and exploring how they serve as a sometimes shaky bridge between the values of contemporary American culture and Judaic tradition.
 
Interviewing over 200 individuals involved in bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies, from family members to religious educators to rabbis, Patricia Keer Munro presents a candid portrait of the conflicts that often emerge and the negotiations that ensue. In the course of her study, she charts how this ritual is rife with contradictions; it is a private family event and a public community activity, and for the child, it is both an educational process and a high-stakes performance.
 
Through detailed observations of Conservative, Orthodox, Reform, and independent congregations in the San Francisco Bay Area, Munro draws intriguing, broad-reaching conclusions about both the current state and likely future of American Judaism.  In the process, she shows not only how American Jews have forged a unique set of bar and bat mitzvah practices, but also how these rituals continue to shape a distinctive Jewish-American identity.  
 

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Commandments and Concerns

Jewish Religious Education in Secular Society

Authored by Michael Rosenak

In this cutting-edge study, Michael Rosenack provides a new understanding of the challenges inherent in teaching Judaism today. His ground-breaking theories are based on close examination of religious experience in individual's lives, consulting sources from all Jewish denominations, from Israel and the Diaspora, and from the non-Jewish world. Rosenak uses his research and a wealth of academic theories to formulate and present proposals for an honest, new approach to teaching religion in our contemporary, secular world.

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Comparing Judaism and Christianity

Common Judaism, Paul, and the Innter and the Outer in Ancient Religion

by E. P. Sanders

Few scholars have so shaped the contemporary debate on the relation of early Christianity to early Judaism as E. P. Sanders, and no one has produced a clearer or more distinctive vision of that relationship as it was expressed in the figure of Paul the apostle. Gathered for the first time within one cover, here Sanders presents formative essays that show the structure of his approach and the insights it produces into Paul’s relationship to Judaism and the Jewish law.

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Conntemporary Sephardic Identity in the Americas

An Interdiscipinary Approach

by Edna Aizenberg and Margalit Bejarano

Offers a wide overview of the Sephardic presence in North and South America through eleven essays discussing culture, history, literature, language, religion and music.

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Conservative Judaism

Vol. 61 (2008-2009) - vol. 66, no. 1 (2014)

Conservative Judaism, sponsored by the Rabbinical Assembly and the Jewish Theological Seminary, publishes articles which express a serious, critical inquiry of Jewish texts and traditions, legacy, and law; further the quest for a Conservative Jewish theology and ideology; and explore today's changing Jewish community. Its perspective is worldwide and transcends denominational boundaries.

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Conservative Movement in Judaism, The

Dilemmas and Opportunities

Illustrates how the American Conservative Movement in Judaism can continue to prosper amidst ideological and institutional challenges. Viewing the Conservative Movement at a turning point, this book analyzes the problems facing the religious movement with the largest synagogue membership in the American Jewish community and outlines a plan of action for the future. Elazar and Geffen suggest: clarifying ideology, mission, and purpose, finding the right balance between traditionalists and advocates of change, unifying movement institutions in a cooperative effort, staunching the decline of membership to the left, recapturing the loyalty of lapsed adherents, closing the gap in observance between the laity and the standard bearers of the movement, developing the Movement in Israel and world-wide, and strengthening ties with Jewish federations and other Jewish communal bodies. The authors propose that the Conservative Movement’s remedying of these problems will benefit not just American, but all world Jewry.

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