The University of Alabama Press

Judaic Studies Series

John Smith, Will Wordsworth

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

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Homelands

Southern Jewish Identity in Durham-Chapel Hill and North Carolina

Written by Leonard Rogoff

Homelands blends oral history, documentary studies, and quantitative research to present a colorful local history with much to say about multicultural identity in the South. Homelands is a case study of a unique ethnic group in North America--small-town southern Jews. Both Jews and southerners, Leonard Rogoff points out, have long struggled with questions of identity and whether to retain their differences or try to assimilate into the nationalculture. Rogoff shows how, as immigrant Jews became small-town southerners,they constantly renegotiated their identities and reinvented their histories.

The Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish community was formed during the 1880s and 1890s, when the South was recovering from the Reconstruction era and Jews were experiencing ever-growing immigration as well as challenging the religious traditionalism of the previous 4,000 years. Durham and Chapel Hill Jews, recent arrivals from the traditional societies of eastern Europe, assimilated and secularized as they lessened their differences with other Americans. Some Jews assimilated through intermarriage and conversion, but the trajectory of the community as a whole was toward retaining their religious and ethnic differences while attempting to integrate with their neighbors.

The Durham-Chapel Hill area is uniquely suited to the study of the southern Jewish experience, Rogoff maintains, because the region is exemplary of two major trends: the national population movement southward and the rise of Jews into the professions. The Jewish peddler and storekeeper of the 1880s and the doctor and professor of the 1990s, Rogoff says, are representative figures of both Jewish upward mobility and southern progress.

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Jewish Continuity in America

Creative Survival in a Free Society

Jewish Continuity in America presents an overview of a life's work by a preeminent scholar and brings new insight to the challenge of American Jewish continuity.

Jews have historically lived within a paradox of faith and fear: faith that they are an eternal people and fear that their generation may be the last. In the United States, the Jewish community has faced to a heightened degree the enduring question of identity and assimilation: How does the Jewish community in this free, open, pluralistic society discover or create factors-both ideological and existential-that make group survival beneficial to the larger society and rewarding to the individual Jew?

Abraham J. Karp's Jewish Continuity in America focuses on the three major sources of American Judaism's continuing vitality: the synagogue, the rabbinate, and Jewish religious pluralism. Particularly illuminating is Karp's examination of the coexistence and unity-in-diversity of American religious Jewry's three divisions-Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative-and of how this Jewish religious pluralism fits into the larger picture of American religious pluralism.

Informing the larger enterprise through sharp and full delineation of discrete endeavors, the essays collected in Jewish Continuity in America-some already acknowledged as classics, some appearing here for the first time-describe creative individual and communal responses to the challenge of Jewish survival. As the title suggests, this book argues that continuity in a free and open society demands a high order of creativity, a creativity that, to be viable, must be anchored in institutions wholly pledged to continuity.





 

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The Land Was Theirs

Jewish Farmers in the Garden State

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Militant Zionism in America

The Rise and Impact of the Jabotinsky Movement in the United States, 1926-1948

Written by Rafael Medoff

Relates an important and neglected chapter of American Jewish history.

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Paganism - Christianity - Judaism

A Confession of Faith

Max Brod, translated by William Wolfe, introduction by Eric Gottgetreu

Now remembered primarily as Franz Kafta's friend and literary executor, Max Brod was an accomplishered thinker and writer in his own right. In this volume, he considers the nature and differences between Judaism and Christianity, addressing some of the most perplexing questions at the heart of human existence.

“One of the most famous and widely discussed books of the 1920’s, Max Brod’s Paganism—Christianity—Judaism, has at last found its way into English translation to confront a new generation of readers. Max Brod is best remembered today as the literary editor and friend of Franz Kafka. In his day, however, he was the more famous of the two by far. A major novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, and composer, he was also, as this book demonstrates, a serious thinker on the perennial questions that are at the heart of human existence. . . .Some of his judgments are open to question. Still, with all its limitations, this is a forthright and passionate proclamation of the uniqueness of Judaism. Paganism—Christianity—Judaism was an intellectual and spiritual event when it was first published and it remains a valuable document even now.” —Rabbi Jack Riemer, Hadassah
 

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A Place of Our Own

The Rise of Reform Jewish Camping

Edited by Michael M. Lorge and Gary P. Zola

The history of educational summer camps in American Reform Judaism. Reform Judaism is not the only religious community in America to make the summer camp experience a vital part of a faith community's effort to impart its values and beliefs to its adolescents, but perhaps no group relied more on summer camp as an adjunct to home and community for this purpose. Summer camp became an important part of Reform group identity, a bulwark against the attraction of assimilation into the greater society and mere nominal Judaism.

These essays, which commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the first Reform Jewish educational camp in the United States (Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute [OSRUI], in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin) cover a wide range of topics related to both the Reform Judaism movement and the development of the Reform Jewish camping system in the United States. Donald M. Splansky’s chapter on “Prayer at Reform Jewish Camps” documents changes in prayer services that took place both at OSRUI and in the Reform movement in general; Michael Zeldin’s “Making the Magic in Reform Jewish Summer Camps” describes the educational philosophies employed at many camps and analyzes their effectiveness; and Jonathan D. Sarna’s “The Crucial Decade in Jewish Camping” explains how social, political, and cultural conditions paved the way for the Reform camping movement.

Contributors: Judah M. Cohen, Rabbi Hillel Gamoran, Michael M. Lorge, Jonathan D. Sarna, Rabbi Donald M. Splansky, Michael Zeldin, Gary P. Zola

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The Quest for Jewish Belief and Identity in the Graphic Novel

Stephen E. Tabachnick

Many Jewish artists and writers contributed to the creation of popular comics and graphic novels, and in The Quest for Jewish Belief and Identity in the Graphic Novel, Stephen E. Tabachnick takes readers on an engaging tour of graphic novels that explore themes of Jewish identity and belief.

The creators of Superman (Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster), Batman (Bob Kane and Bill Finger), and the Marvel superheroes (Stan Lee and Jack Kirby), were Jewish, as was the founding editor of Mad magazine (Harvey Kurtzman). They often adapted Jewish folktales (like the Golem) or religious stories (such as the origin of Moses) for their comics, depicting characters wrestling with supernatural people and events. Likewise, some of the most significant graphic novels by Jews or about Jewish subject matter deal with questions of religious belief and Jewish identity. Their characters wrestle with belief—or nonbelief—in God, as well as with their own relationship to the Jews, the historical role of the Jewish people, the politics of Israel, and other issues related to Jewish identity.

In The Quest for Jewish Belief and Identity in the Graphic Novel, Stephen E. Tabachnick delves into the vivid kaleidoscope of Jewish beliefs and identities, ranging from Orthodox belief to complete atheism, and a spectrum of feelings about identification with other Jews. He explores graphic novels at the highest echelon of the genre by more than thirty artists and writers, among them Harvey Pekar (American Splendor), Will Eisner (A Contract with God), Joann Sfar (The Rabbi’s Cat), Miriam Katin (We Are On Our Own), Art Spiegelman (Maus), J. T. Waldman (Megillat Esther), Aline Kominsky Crumb (Need More Love), James Sturm (The Golem’s Mighty Swing), Leela Corman (Unterzakhn), Ari Folman and David Polonsky (Waltz with Bashir), David Mairowitz and Robert Crumb’s biography of Kafka, and many more. He also examines the work of a select few non-Jewish artists, such as Robert Crumb and Basil Wolverton, both of whom have created graphic adaptations of parts of the Hebrew Bible.

Among the topics he discusses are graphic novel adaptations of the Bible; the Holocaust graphic novel; graphic novels about the Jews in Eastern and Western Europe and Africa, and the American Jewish immigrant experience; graphic novels about the lives of Jewish women; the Israel-centered graphic novel; and the Orthodox graphic novel. The book concludes with an extensive bibliography.

No study of Jewish literature and art today can be complete without a survey of the graphic novel, and scholars, students, and graphic novel fans alike will delight in Tabachnick’s guide to this world of thought, sensibility, and artfulness.

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The Quiet Voices

Southern Rabbis and Black Civil Rights, 1880s to 1990s

These wide-ranging essays reveal the various roles played by southern rabbis in the struggle for black civil rights since Reconstruction

The study of black-Jewish relations has become a hotbed of controversy, especially with regard to the role played by Jewish leaders during the Civil Rights movement. Did these leaders play a pivotal role, or did many of them, especially in the South, succumb to societal pressure and strive to be accepted rather than risk being persecuted? If some of these leaders did choose a quieter path, were their reasons valid? And were their methods successful?

The contributors in this volume explore the motivations and subsequent behavior of rabbis in a variety of southern environments both before and during the civil rights struggle. Their research demonstrates that most southern rabbis indeed faced pressures not experienced in the North and felt the need to balance these countervailing forces to achieve their moral imperative.

Individually, each essay offers a glimpse into both the private and public difficulties these rabbis faced in their struggle to achieve good. Collectively, the essays provide an unparalleled picture of Jewish leadership during the civil rights era.

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Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer and the Creation of a Modern Jewish Orthodoxy

and the Creation of a Modern Jewish Orthodoxy

Written by David Ellenson

The story of modern Orthodox Judaism is usually told only from the perspective of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. Ellenson’s work, a thorough examination of the life and work of one of Hirsch’s contemporaries, Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer, reveals another important contributor to the creation of a modern Jewish Orthodoxy during the late 1800s. like Hirsch, Hildesheirmer felt the need to continue certain traditions while at the same time introducing certain innovations to meet the demands of a modern society. This original study of an Orthodox rabbinic leader shows how Hildesheirmer’s flexible and pragmatic approach to these problems continues to be relevant to modern Judaism. The way in which this book draws upon response literature for its comprehension of Hildesheimer makes it a distinctive work in modern Jewish historiography and sociology.

 

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Rabbi Max Heller

Reformer, Zionist, Southerner, 1860-1929

This biography of a pioneering Zionist and leader of American Reform Judaism adds significantly to our understanding of American and southern Jewish history.

Max Heller was a man of both passionate conviction and inner contradiction. He sought to be at the center of current affairs, not as a spokesperson of centrist opinion, but as an agitator or mediator, constantly struggling to find an acceptable path as he confronted the major issues of the day--racism and Jewish emancipation in eastern Europe, nationalism and nativism, immigration and assimilation. Heller's life experience provides a distinct vantage point from which to view the complexity of race relations in New Orleans and the South and the confluence of cultures that molded his development as a leader. A Bohemian immigrant and one of the first U.S.-trained rabbis, Max Heller served for 40 years as spiritual leader of a Reform Jewish congregation in New Orleans--at that time the largest city in the South. Far more than a congregational rabbi, Heller assumed an activist role in local affairs, Reform Judaism, and the Zionist movement, maintaining positions often unpopular with his neighbors, congregants, and colleagues. His deep concern for social justice led him to question two basic assumptions that characterized his larger social milieu--segregation and Jewish assimilation. 

Heller, a consummate Progressive with clear vision and ideas substantially ahead of their time, led his congregation, his community, Reform Jewish colleagues, and Zionist sympathizers in a difficult era.
 

 

 

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