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American Jewish Life

Jewish Economies: Development and Migration in America and Beyond. Vol. 1: The Economic Life of American Jewry, by Simon Kuznets, edited by Stephanie Lo and E. Glen Weyl. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2012. 239 pp. $49.95. ISBN 978-1-4128-4211-2.

Nobel Laureate Simon Kuznets, famous as the founder of modern empirical economics, pioneered the quantitative study of the economic history of the Jews. In this volume Kuznets traces trends in the economic life of American Jews. He measures the legendary economic success of American Jews, discusses the foundations of these achievements, and exposes the causes of the extreme inequalities in American Jewish economic life. The immigrant origin of nearly all American Jews offers a case study in the process of assimilation that made American Jewry the ultimate American success story.

Art, Music, Film

Film and Genocide, edited by Kristi M. Wilson and Tomás F. Crowder-Taraborrelli. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2012. 266 pp. $21.95. ISBN 978-0-299-28564-7.

Film and Genocide brings together scholars of film and of genocide to discuss film representations, both fictional and documentary, of the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, and genocides in Chile, Australia, Rwanda, and the United States. This volume looks at such issues as realism versus fiction, the challenge of depicting atrocities in a manner palatable to spectators and film distributors, the Holocaust film as a model for films about other genocides, and the role of new technologies in disseminating films about genocide. Film and Genocide also includes interviews with three film directors, who discuss their experiences in working with deeply [End Page 214] disturbing images and bringing hidden stories to life: Irek Dobrowolski, Nick Hughes, and Greg Barker.

Biblical and Rabbinic Literature

The Jewish Annotated New Testament, New Revised Standard Version, edited by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. 700 pp. $35.00. ISBN 978-0-19-529770-6.

An international team of scholars introduces and annotates the Gospels, Acts, Letters, and Revelation from Jewish perspectives. They show how Jewish practices and writings, particularly the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, influenced the New Testament writers. In addition, thirty essays on historical and religious topics bring the Jewish context of the New Testament to the fore, enabling readers to see these writings both in their original contexts and in the history of interpretation.

The Megillah: Majesty and Mystery: A Commentary on Megillat Esther and the Ma’ariv Evening Service for Purim, by Norman Lamm, edited by Joel B. Wolowelsky. New York: OU Press and Yeshiva University Press, 2012. 190 pp. $25.00. ISBN 978-1-60280-197-4.

Majesty and Mystery is a contemporary commentary consisting of Rabbi Lamm’s insights on Megillat Esther and the Purim holiday, as well as on Tefillat Ma’ariv, the evening prayer service, gleaned from the corpus of his works.

Sacred Texts and Sacred Meanings: Studies in Biblical Language and Literature, by John F. A. Sawyer. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2011. 457 pp. $65.00. ISBN 978-1-906055-94-3.

John Sawyer, a British biblical scholar and teacher, applies linguistic theory to the study of the Bible, with the insight that all texts can have, and very often have had, more than one meaning. No one meaning can claim priority over the others, he argues. The “orriginal meaning,” more or less convincingly reconstructed by modern scholarship, can claim chronological priority, but that is all. What the text has meant to its Jewish and Christian readers down the centuries should be the subject of scholarly attention. [End Page 215]

Biography, Autobiography, Memoirs, Diaries

A Jewish Voice from Ottoman Salonica: The Ladino Memoir of Sa’adi Besalel a-Levi, by Sa’adi Besalel a-Levi, edited and with an introduction by Aron Rodrigue and Sarah Abrevaya Stein. Translated by Isaac Jerusalmi. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012. 372 pp. $50.00. ISBN 978-0-8047-7166-5.

This book presents the complete text of the earliest known Ladino-language memoir, transliterated from the original script, translated into English, and introduced and explicated by the editors. The memoirist, Sa’adi Besalel a-Levi (1820–1903), wrote about...


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