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
In the annals of American Jewish history, synagogue financial records have been largely overlooked. But as Daniel Judson shows in his examination of synagogue ledgers from 1728 to the present, these records provide an array of new insights into the development of American synagogues and the values of the Jews who worshipped in them. Looking at the history of American synagogues through an economic lens, Judson examines how synagogues raised funds, financed buildings, and paid clergy. By “following the money,” he reveals the priorities of the Jewish community at a given time. Throughout the book, Judson traces the history of capital campaigns and expenditures for buildings. He also explores synagogue competition and debates over previously sold seats, what to do about wealthy widows, the breaking down of gender norms, the hazan “bubble” (which saw dozens of overpaid cantors come to the United States from Europe), the successful move to outlaw “mushroom synagogues,” and the nascent synagogue-sharing economy of the twenty-first century. Judson shows as well the ongoing relationship of synagogue and church financing as well as the ways in which the American embrace of the free market in all things meant that the basic rules of supply and demand ultimately prevailed in the religious as well as the commercial realm.
This brilliant analysis of American Judaism in the last half of the 20th century won the 1993-94 National Jewish Book Award for the best book on contemporary Jewry and also was named an Outstanding Book of 1993 by Choice. Jack Wertheimer examines how fundamental changes in American society have affected Jewish religious and communal life, paying special attention to contradictions and schisms that threaten the integrity of American Jewish practices and beliefs. A People Divided remains an essential primer for anyone interested in the ongoing debate about what constitutes Jewishness and who is a Jew.
A taboo-breaker and a great provocateur, George L. Mosse (1918–99) was one of the great historians of the twentieth century, forging a new historiography of culture that included brilliant insights about the roles of nationalism, fascism, racism, and sexuality. Jewish, gay, and a member of a culturally elite family in Germany, Mosse came of age as the Nazis came to power, before escaping as a teenager to England and America. Mosse was innovative and interdisciplinary as a scholar, and he shattered in his groundbreaking books prevalent assumptions about the nature of National Socialism and the Holocaust. He audaciously drew a link from bourgeois respectability and the ideology of the Enlightenment—the very core of modern Western civilization—to the extermination of the European Jews.
In this intellectual biography of George Mosse, Karel Plessini draws on all of Mosse's published and unpublished work to illuminate the origins and development of his groundbreaking methods of historical analysis and the close link between his life and work. He redefined the understanding of modern mass society and politics, masterfully revealing the powerful influence of conformity and political liturgies on twentieth-century history. Mosse warned against the dangers inherent in acquiescence, showing how identity creation and ideological fervor can climax in intolerance and mass murder—a message of continuing relevance.
In this volume, eminent scholar Berel Lang brings the perspective of philosophical analysis to bear on issues related to the Holocaust. Setting out from a conception of philosophical “witnessing” that expands and illuminates the standard view of the witness, he confronts the question of what philosophy can add to the views of the Holocaust provided in other disciplines. Drawing on the philosophical areas of political theory, ethics, aesthetics, and the philosophy of history, he draws attention especially to the post-Holocaust emphasis on the concepts of genocide and “group rights.” Lang’s study, which emphasizes the moral choices that now face post-Holocaust thought, inspires the reader to think of the Holocaust in new ways, showing how its continued presence in contemporary consciousness affects areas of thought and practice not directly associated with that event.
Thought necessarily reflects the times. Following the tragedy of the Holocaust, this fact became ever more clear. And it may be the reason postwar philosophical texts are so difficult to understand, since they confront incomprehensibly traumatic experiences. In this first English-language translation of any of his books, Miroslav Petříček—one of the most influential and erudite Czech philosophers, and a student of Jan Patočka—argues that to exist in the second half of the twentieth century and beyond, Western philosophy has had to rewrite its tradition and its discourse, radically transforming itself. Should philosophy be capable of bearing witness to the time, Petříček contends, this metamorphosis in philosophy is necessary. Offering an original Central European perspective on postwar philosophical discourse that reflects upon the historical underpinnings of pop culture phenomena and complex philosophical schools—including Adorno, Agamben, Benjamin, Derrida, Husserl, Kracauer, and many others—Philosophy en noir is a record of this transformation.
This volume, an amazing act of historical recovery and reconstruction, offers a comprehensive examination of Jewish women in Europe during the High Middle Ages (1000–1300). Avraham Grossman covers multiple aspects of women’s lives in medieval Jewish society, including the image of woman, the structure of the family unit, age at marriage, position in family and society, her place in economic and religious life, her education, her role in family ceremonies, violence against women, and the position of the divorcée and the widow in society. Grossman shows that the High Middle Ages saw a distinct improvement in the status of Jewish women in Europe relative to their status during the Talmudic period and in Muslim countries. If, during the twelfth century, rabbis applauded women as "pious and pure" because of their major role in the martyrdom of the Crusades of 1096, then by the end of the thirteenth century, rabbis complained that women were becoming bold and rebellious. Two main factors fostered this change: first, the transformation of Jewish society from agrarian to "bourgeois," with women performing an increasingly important function in the family economy; and second, the openness toward women in Christian Europe, where women were not subjected to strict limitations based upon conceptions of modesty, as was the case in Muslim countries. The heart of Grossman’s book concerns the improvement of Jewish women’s lot, and the efforts of secular and religious authorities to impede their new-found status. Bringing together a variety of sources including halakhic literature, biblical and talmudic exegesis, ethical literature and philosophy, love songs, folklore and popular literature, gravestones, and drawings, Grossman’s book reconstructs the hitherto unrecorded lives of Jewish women during the Middle Ages.
In Popular Trauma Culture, Anne Rothe argues that American Holocaust discourse has a particular plot structure—characterized by a melodramatic conflict between good and evil and embodied in the core characters of victim/survivor and perpetrator—and that it provides the paradigm for representing personal experiences of pain and suffering in the mass media. The book begins with an analysis of Holocaust clichés, including its political appropriation, the notion of vicarious victimhood, the so-called victim talk rhetoric, and the infusion of the composite survivor figure with Social Darwinism. Readers then explore the embodiment of popular trauma culture in two core mass media genres: daytime TV talk shows and misery memoirs.
Rothe conveys how victimhood and suffering are cast as trauma kitsch on talk shows like Oprah and as trauma camp on modern-day freak shows like Springer. The discussion also encompasses the first scholarly analysis of misery memoirs, the popular literary genre that has been widely critiqued in journalism as pornographic depictions of extreme violence. Currently considered the largest growth sector in book publishing worldwide, many of these works are also fabricated. And since forgeries reflect the cultural entities that are most revered, the book concludes with an examination of fake misery memoirs.
Accounts of Jewish immigrants usually describe the role of education in helping youngsters earn a higher social position than their parents. Melissa F. Weiner argues that New York City schools did not serve as pathways to mobility for Jewish or African American students. Instead, at different points in the city's history, politicians and administrators erected similar racial barriers to social advancement by marginalizing and denying resources that other students enjoyed. Power, Protest, and the Public Schools explores how activists, particularly parents and children, responded to inequality; the short-term effects of their involvement; and the long-term benefits that would spearhead future activism. Weiner concludes by considering how today's Hispanic and Arab children face similar inequalities within public schools.
Projecting the Nation: History and Ideology on the Israeli Screen is a wide-ranging history of over seven decades of Israeli cinema. The only book in English to offer this type of historical scope was Ella Shohat’s Israeli Cinema: East West and the Politics of Representation from 1989. Since 1989, however, Israeli cinema and Israeli society have undergone some crucial transformations and, moreover, Shohat’s book offered a single framework through which to judge Israeli cinema: a critique of orientalism. Projecting the Nation contends that Israeli cinema offers much richer historical and ideological perspectives that expose the complexity of the Israeli project. By analyzing Israeli films which address such issues as the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Ashkenazi-Mizrahi divide, the kibbutz and urban life, the rise of religion in Israeli public life and more, the book explores the way cinema has represented and also shaped our understanding of the history of modern Israel as it evolved from a collectivist society to a society where individualism and adherence to local identities is the dominant ideology.
Edited by Derek Rubin Brandeis University Press, 2010 Library of Congress PS648.J4P76 2010 | Dewey Decimal 813.008092870899
This vibrant anthology showcases new, unpublished short stories by a rapidly growing crop of highly talented young Jewish American fiction writers. Cohering around the core Jewish theme of the Promised Land, all the stories were written especially for this volume. With the kind of depth and imagination that only fiction allows, they offer striking variations on the multivalent theme of the Promised Land and how it continues to shape the collective consciousness of contemporary American Jews. This anthology provides a rich reading experience and a unique window onto Jewish American life and culture at the beginning of the twenty-first century. A scholarly introduction by Derek Rubin provides literary context, discusses the organization of the volume, and illuminates expected and unexpected connections among the stories. Promised Lands features 23 stories by Elisa Albert, Melvin Jules Bukiet, Janice Eidus, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Lauren Grodstein, Aaron Hamburger, Dara Horn, Rachel Kadish, Binnie Kirshenbaum, Joan Leegant, Yael Goldstein Love, Rivka Lovett, Tova Mirvis, Lev Raphael, Nessa Rapoport, Jonathan Rosen, Thane Rosenbaum, Joey Rubin, Edward Schwarzschild, Steve Stern, Lara Vapnyar, Adam Wilson, and Jonathan Wilson.
The Pure Element of Time
Haim Be’er Brandeis University Press, 2012 Library of Congress PJ5054.B374H3913 2003 | Dewey Decimal 892.436
Published in 1998 as Havalim, The Pure Element of Time is a rich and evocative autobiographical novel about a writer’s development. With his keen eye and opulent writing style, Haim Be’er turns the story of his childhood and maturity into a complex and gripping work of art. Constructed as a triptych, The Pure Element of Time begins with the author’s boyhood. Raised in an orthodox family in an old Jerusalem neighborhood in the early 1950s, Be'er was profoundly influenced by his overly pious grandmother, who was, nonetheless, a natural storyteller whose richly evocative parables and tales inspired his lifelong love for language. The middle section depicts his parents’ marriage, a tragic misalliance between a smart, independent Jerusalem-born woman and a withdrawn and defeated refugee from the Russian pogroms. The emergence of the writer’s individual literary voice—informed by, yet ultimately transcending, the influences of tradition and history—forms the emotional and psychological core of Be’er’s work.