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American Jewish Life

American Jewish Identity Politics, edited by Deborah Dash Moore. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008. 336 pp. $27.95. ISBN 978-0-472-03288-4.

This collection of essays, written by scholars who grew up after World War II and the Holocaust, participated in political struggles in the 1960s and 1970s, and articulated many of the formative concepts of modern Jewish studies, explores changes among American Jews in their self-understanding during the last half of the 20th century. The volume is organized around contested themes in American Jewish life: the Holocaust and World War II, religious pluralism and authenticity, intermarriage and Jewish continuity. The essays reflect several layers of identity politics. On one level, they interrogate the recent past of American Jews. On another level, these essays express ideas nourished in universities during the 1970s and 1980s. Those years marked the expansion of Jewish studies as a field in the United States and the establishment of American Jewish studies as an area of specialization.

Jews, God, and Videotape: Religion and Media in America, by Jeffrey Shandler. New York: New York University Press, 2009. 340 pp. $23.00. ISBN 978-0-8147-4068-2.

This book is an examination of the impact of new communications technologies and media practices on the religious life of American Jewry over the past century. Shandler presents examples ranging from early recordings of cantorial music to Hasidic outreach on the Internet and argues that the impact of these and other media on American Judaism is varied and extensive: they have challenged the role of clergy and transformed the nature of ritual; facilitated innovations in religious practice and scholarship as well as efforts to maintain traditional observance and teachings; created venues for outreach, both to enhance relationships with non-Jewish neighbors and to promote greater religiosity among Jews; and rede [End Page 208] fined the notion of what might constitute a Jewish religious community or spiritual experience.

Maqam and Liturgy: Ritual, Music, and Aesthetics of Syrian Jews in Brooklyn, by Mark L. Kligman. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2009. 265 pp. $34.95. ISBN 978-0-8143-3216-0.

Syrian Jews in Brooklyn, New York, constitute the largest single group of Jews from Syria in the world. Their thriving community includes fifteen synagogues in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, where the practice of singing Arab melodies is a cornerstone of their religious services. In Maqām and Liturgy, author Mark L. Kligman investigates the multidimensional interaction of music and text in Sabbath prayers of the Syrian Jews to trace how Arab and Jewish traditions have merged in this particular culture, helping to illuminate a little-known dimension of Jewish identity and Jewish-Arab cultural interaction.

Ancient World and Archaeology

Discoveries in the Judean Desert XXXVII: Qumrân Grotte 4: Textes Araméens, Deuxième Partie, by Emile Puech. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2009. 561 pp. + plates. $220.00. ISBN 978-0-19-95504-3.

This volume (in French) contains the editio princeps of the second part (4Q550-583) of the Aramaic texts from Cave 4 at Qumran which were originally assigned to Pere Jean Starcky (4Q521-578). The first part of the Aramaic texts was published in volume XXXI of the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert series, while the Hebrew texts were published in volume XXV. These Aramaic and Hebrew texts include primarily parabiblical and pseudoepigraphical compositions, often named "Apocryphon," " Testament," "Pseudo-," or "Visions." They reflect the interest in biblical themes characteristic of Second Temple period Judaism and exhibited in many of the Qumran compositions.

Sasanian Jewry and Its Culture: A Lexicon of Jewish and Related Seals, by Daniel M. Friedenberg. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2009. 96 pp., 58 photographs. $40.00. ISBN 978-0-252-03367-4.

The Sasanian Empire began in 226 C.E., when Ardashir, a Persian satrap, revolted against his Parthian overlords. Occupying the territories now divided among Iran and Iraq, and for brief periods Syria and Armenia, the empire lasted until 640 C.E., when the empire succumbed to Arab invaders. Within the empire lived large communities of Jews, whose numbers were considerably greater than the Jewish population of Byzantium. It [End Page 209] was...


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