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

148 SHOFAR Fall 1999 Vol. 18, No.1 before the end of World War II when only the bigots and the uninformed would have regarded Jews as "insiders" in the United States or elsewhere. Leonard Dinnerstein Judaic Studies University of Arizona Unfinished Rabbi: Selected Writings of Arnold Jacob Wolf, edited by Jonathan S. Wolf. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1998. 266 pp. $27.50. It would not be flippancy to describe Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolfas an intellectual gadfly, an ofttimes lonely, prophetic voice calling out for social activism, or to characterize him as a goad to the individual and collective conscience of American Jewry. Unfinished Rabbi: Selected Writings ofJacob Arnold Wolf, edited by his son, Jonathan S. Wolf, is a chronicle of a man who for over 40 years has been a Hillel rabbi at Yale University, a congregational rabbi, a university professor, and always, in the highest sense, a teacher of Judaism and Jewish values. Ordained as a Reform rabbi, Rabbi Wolf never compartmentalized his Judaism within stringentideological boundaries. He was increasingly concerned with the erosion of Halacha, Jewish law, within modem Jewish life, and so, even though a member of the Reform Central Conference of American Rabbis, he also joined the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly. A daring pioneer and innovator, Rabbi Wolfhelped to develop the National Federation ofTemple Youth's Camp Leadership Institutes and was one of the founders of the UAHC's highly successful summer camp at Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. As rabbi ofCongregation SoleI in the greater Chicago area, he led the congregation into creative paths of liturgy, leadership, study, and social activism. Among his most controversial actions as a rabbi was his becoming the president of Breira, a short-lived Jewish organization which in the mid-1970s courageously called for the establishment ofa Palestinian state and early on took on the unpopular role ofsupporting "land for peace" as the only viable alternative to years of bloody Arab-Israeli conflict. Though the writings in Unfinished Rabbi go back to the 1960s, there is still much in the book that is relevant and worthy of our attention. Thus in a speech he gave in . 1994, Rabbi Wolfstated, "It is time to demythologize the black-Jewish dialogue, to stop pretending that we have exactly the same proximate goals or strategies. What we do have is a desperate need for one America instead ofa nation divided into rich and poor, black and white." In an article in the periodical Sh 'rna, which he wrote in 1973, he anticipated the current discussion over the future course of Zionism by raising such disturbing Book Reviews .. ~. 149 questions as "Did Zionism mean to create an American-style supermarket on the Mediterranean built by Arab masons and carpenters?" In that same essay he excoriated the Orthodox· establishment in Israel for "its veto over free religious expression by Israeli Jews," and he castigated Orthodoxy for adding to the militarism of many religious citizens of Israel. In a portrait of Yeshayahu Leibowitz written in 1981 in Sh 'rna, Rabbi Wolfcontinuedhis attack on Orthodoxy in Israel, stating, "Religious Jews have become a mere sect instead ofa model. Therefore the established synagogue must be disestablished." Again, he spoke out in favor oflsrael's disengaging itselffrom the occupied territories. It should also be mentioned that his portraits ofsuch distinguished thinkers as Jean Paul Sartre, Mordecai Kaplan, and Martin Buber, among others, are among the highlights of this challenging, provocative and very illuminating book. Rabbi Wolf, as a Reform rabbi, teacher, writer, and theologian, has always sought to engage Jewish minds and hearts in a dialogue based upon his unshaken conviction that only a radical politics firmly rooted in meaningful and substantive Jewish piety and practice deserves to be called "Judaism." There are those who refer to Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf as a "prophet become rabbi," and indeed, Unfinished Rabbi resonates with such a voice. The American Jewish community is fortunate to number a Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf in its ranks. Hopefully, others will continue to pursue the questions he has raised and so strengthen and sustain American Jewry and American Judaism. Rabbi Samuel Weingart Temple Israel West Lafayette, Indiana From Patriarch to Priest: The Levi-Priestly Tradition from Aramaic Levi...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 148-149
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.