In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Book Reviews 145 Bible. It will not serve the needs of those who already have read on the subject. Professor Freedman is a fine scholar, for whom I have the utmost respect. I was hoping for something more substantial from his pen: some creative rethinking of an old question in the light of the rapidly expanding bodies of evidence from the ancient Near East. Instead I was served a familiar dish. Harry A. Hoffner, Jr. The Oriental Institute University of Chicago Judaism and Hebrew Prayer, by Stefan C. Reif. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993. 437 pp. $64.95. Without a doubt the development of our prayerbook is a most fascinating study. Aspects of its history must deal with such relevant subjects as progression from prostration and sacrifice to prayer, with changes from petition to thanks and praises, the passage from voluntary to obligatory, with substitution of synagogue for Temple and the assumption of appropriate body position. Add to these the actual growth of liturgy, the inescapable variations in its text, the mastery of its tunes, plus a handful of related subjects. Fortunately, Stefan C. Reif, Director ofGenizah Research at Cambridge University, is perfectly equipped to tackle with competence every element of the subject. Particularly laudable is his liberal use of a most impressive, multilingual collection of reference works. The author is correct in saying, "... the potential student is discouraged by the fact the Jewish liturgical scholarship touches on so many aspects ofJewish and related studies that it demands, for coping with it, an education that is at once both intense and broad" (p. 8). In the introductory chapter of this most informative volume we learn of the pioneers who began the research into this field. We get to know such stalwart scholars as I. Elbogen (Der judische Gottesdienst in seiner Geschichtlichen Entwicklung, 1931), J. Heinemann (Prayer in the Period ofthe Tannaim and the Amoraim, 1964), E. Fleischer (Hebrew Liturgical Poetry, 1975), and J. J. Petuchovski (The Liturgy of the Synagogue, 1983). In the following eight chapters the author traces the birth and growth of our liturgy. Beginning with the Biblical period we are led via the fertile Babylonian experience, the second Temple, through the Talmudic era. 146 SHOFAR Spring 1994 Vol. 12, No.3 Threading -through the Geonic and Genizah eras we encounter the Piyut-religious poetry. "Poets and cantors innbvated and improvised in a most extensive fashion and produced a vast variety of new forms of language and poetry" (p. 145), and "the acceptance of a written Siddur as one ofJudaism's authoritative sources became a reality" (p. 147). It was, of course, inevitable that in the process a great degree of pluralism developed, necessitating "halakhic guidelines in the forms of codes, responsa and rubrics" (p. 154). We get to know an abundance of such rites as Sefardi and Ashkenazi, Babylonian and Palestinian, Persian and Roman, French Tosafists and German Hassidim, and we learn of the influence exerted by such as Geonim Natronai, Anuam, Maimonides, and his son. The discovery of the printing press affected appreciably current practice, as did the Kabbalistic influences and the popular Zemiroth table songs. The advent of the modern world introduced such novel ideas as Haskalah, Wissenschaft des Judenthums, Zionism, Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox branches of Judaism, as well as the ideologies of such scholars as Zunz, Geiger, Frankel, Adler, Singer, and Baer. While I regret that in the last chapter, dealing mainly with the current era, no attempt was made to adequately describe the contemporary Hassidic population of Borough Park, Williamsburg, and th~ Catskills, I consider this volume an altogether successful endeavor. It succeeds in doing justice to a complex subject. Max Wohlberg Jewish Theological Seminary Preachers ofthe Italian Ghetto, edited by David B. Ruderman. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Oxford: University of California Press, 1992. 168 pp. $32.00. The sermons of Italian rabbis constitute a relatively neglected yet highly important genre ofJewish self-expression, for the preacher and his sermons served as a bridge, mediating berween the ghetto and the outside world, berween elite and popular modes of thought, and berween tradition and innovation. Therefore, the essays in this volume of original scholarship , written by the leading experts in the field...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 145-146
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.