Re-forming Judaism: Moments of Disruption in Jewish Thought

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ISBN: 978-0-88123-609-5

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Edited by Rabbi Stanley M. Davids
and Leah Hochman, PhD

Throughout Jewish history, revolutionary events and subversive ideas have burst forth, repeatedly transforming Jewish experience. Re-forming Judaism seeks to explore these ideas---and the individuals behind them---by delving into historical disruptions that led to lasting change in Jewish thought. A distinguished array of scholars take us on a journey from the disruptive prophets of ancient times, through rational, mystical, and extremist medievalists, to the impact of Haskalah and early Reform thought in modernity. Contemporary innovations such as changes in liturgy and music, feminism, and post-Holocaust theology are included, as are insights into Sephardic and North African experiences. By showing how Judaism forms---then re-forms, and re-forms again---the contributors demonstrate that tensions between continuity and change have always been part of Jewish life, helping us to both understand the past and contemplate the future.

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The excellent chapters in this exciting and provocative book provide an illuminating journey through the grand sweep of Jewish history, seen through the lens of crises that generated radical transformations. The volume is perfect for all who seek to explore the resilience that undergirds Jewish survival and to benefit from first-rate scholarship and engaging style.
-- Rabbi Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, PhD, Effie Wise Ochs Professor of Biblical Literature and History, Hebrew Union College--Jewish Institute of Religion

An accessible introduction to the long history of disruption in Jewish life from antiquity to the present. To paraphrase a famous slogan, "You don't need to be Reform to enjoy Re-Forming Judaism." You just need to be curious as to how change happens.
-- Jonathan D. Sarna, PhD, University Professor and Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University

There is a piece of every Jew that relishes thinking of oneself as standing at Sinai and being part of a people and tradition that extends from then to now. The Jewish tradition, though, is ours now only because it had the wisdom to change over the centuries. This book graphically demonstrates how tradition and change together have kept Judaism instructive and relevant over time so that Jews now can enjoy and benefit from both its continuity and its ever-refreshing and challenging nature.
-- Rabbi Elliot Dorff, PhD, Rector and Sol & Anne Dorff Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy, American Jewish University

Rabbi Davids (coeditor of The Fragile Dialogue) teams up with Hochman (The Ugliness of Moses Mendelssohn), an associate professor of Jewish thought at Hebrew Union College, to present a series of illuminating essays on the "disruptions" that have shaped Jewish history from biblical times to the present.
-- Publishers Weekly

[T]he engrossing book boasts an impressive lineup of more than 20 Jewish scholars and rabbis who have not only an expertise in Jewish intellectual traditions, but also display a sensitivity toward contemporary issues associated with race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Each cogent chapter is accompanied by a wealth of scholarly footnotes. While clearly written in the context of Liberal, Reform, and Progressive Judaism, the rigorous anthology avoids the common pitfall of viewing innovation as inherently good, reminding readers that Jewish responses to disruptions were not monolithic or sudden and that "precious continuity" may be as important as progress. A well-written, expertly researched collection of essays on Jewish history and issues.
-- Kirkus Reviews

Re-forming Judaism does an excellent job challenging its readers to see how ideas and individuals changed the practice and development of Judaism over the centuries. The work would be perfect for discussion groups and for those interested in the evolution of Jewish practice and theology.
-- Rabbi Rachel Esserman, The Reporter Group

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ISBN 978-0-88123-609-5
Copyright © 2023
6" x 9"
Pages: 360