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Rank #40 in Judaism category

Religion & Spirituality
Judaism

New Books in Jewish Studies

Updated 4 days ago

Rank #40 in Judaism category

Religion & Spirituality
Judaism
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Interview with Scholar of Judaism about their New Books

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Interview with Scholar of Judaism about their New Books

iTunes Ratings

29 Ratings
Average Ratings
20
5
0
1
3

Thoughtful interviews

By EFdove61 - Mar 02 2018
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Thoughtful interviews and enjoyable to listen to

Excellent

By Tmpadawan - Oct 27 2017
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Great venue for current Jewish thought

iTunes Ratings

29 Ratings
Average Ratings
20
5
0
1
3

Thoughtful interviews

By EFdove61 - Mar 02 2018
Read more
Thoughtful interviews and enjoyable to listen to

Excellent

By Tmpadawan - Oct 27 2017
Read more
Great venue for current Jewish thought
Cover image of New Books in Jewish Studies

New Books in Jewish Studies

Latest release on Oct 21, 2020

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Interview with Scholar of Judaism about their New Books

Rank #1: Lynn Davidman, “Becoming Un-Orthodox: Stories of Ex-Hasidic Jews” (Oxford University Press, 2015)

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In Becoming Un-Orthodox: Stories of Ex-Hasidic Jews (Oxford University Press, 2015), Lynn Davidman, Robert M. Beren Distinguished Professor of Modern Jewish Studies at the University of Kansas, utilizes interviews with more than forty individuals who have left their Hasidic communities to vividly document the ways in which these men and women grapple with questions of faith, ritual, and communal authority. In addition to sharing her subjects’ journeys to find themselves and a place within the broader world, Davidman recounts her own experience in leaving Orthodoxy behind as a young adult, and highlights the challenges of testing the boundaries of individuality, community, and gendered expectations of behavior.

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May 12 2016

34mins

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Rank #2: Michael L. Satlow, “How the Bible Became Holy” (Yale UP, 2014)

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In How the Bible Became Holy (Yale University Press, 2014), Michael L. Satlow, a professor of religious studies and Judaic studies at Brown University, explores how an ancient collection of obscure writing became, over the course of centuries, “holy.” We take for granted that texts have power, but that idea was not always so obvious to people.


Satlow traces the story of how the Bible became the foundational, authoritative text of Judaism and Christianity.

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Sep 17 2015

32mins

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Rank #3: Mira Beth Wasserman, “Jews, Gentiles, and Other Animals: The Talmud After the Humanities” (U Penn Press, 2017)

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In Jews, Gentiles, and Other Animals: The Talmud After the Humanities (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017), Mira Beth Wasserman undertakes a close reading of Avoda Zara, arguably the Talmud’s most scandalous tractate, to uncover the hidden architecture of this classic work of Jewish religious thought. She proposes a new way of reading the Talmud that brings it into conversation with the humanities, including animal studies, the new materialisms, and other areas of critical theory that have been reshaping the understanding of what it is to be a human being.


Even as it comments on the the rabbinic laws that govern relations between Jews and non-Jews, Avoda Zara is also an attempt to reflect on what all people share in common, and on how humans fit into a larger universe of animals and things. As is typical of the Talmud in general, it proceeds by incorporating a vast and confusing array of apparently digressive materials, but Wasserman demonstrates that there is a whole greater than the sum of the parts, a sustained effort to explore human identity and difference.


In centuries past, Avoda Zara has been a flashpoint in Jewish-Christian relations. It was partly due to its content that the Talmud was subject to burning and censorship by Christian authorities. Wasserman develops a twenty-first-century reading of the tractate that aims to reposition it as part of a broader quest to understand what connects human beings to each other and to the world around them.


Phillip Sherman is Associate Professor of Religion at Maryville College in Maryville, TN.

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May 02 2018

45mins

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Rank #4: Amir Engel, “Gershom Scholem: An Intellectual Biography” (U. Chicago Press, 2017)

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In Gershom Scholem: An Intellectual Biography (University of Chicago Press, 2017) , Amir Engel, a lecturer in the German Department at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, positions Gershom Scholem’s work and life within early twentieth-century Germany, Palestine and later the state of Israel. This book is an accessible and illuminating account of Gershom Scholem’s thought. It will become a very important reference for many years to come.

Max Kaiser is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne. He can be reached at kaiser@student.unimelb.edu.au.

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May 15 2017

38mins

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Rank #5: James L. Kugel, “The Great Shift: Encountering God in Biblical Times” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)

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In a career spanning several decades, James L. Kugel has illuminated the Hebrew Bible from the perspectives of both a biblical scholar of enormous skill and eloquence and as an engaged and imaginative reader. In The Great Shift: Encountering God in Biblical Times (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017), Kugel, Starr Professor Emeritus of Hebrew Literature at Harvard University, consults not only biblical scholarship but neuroscience and anthropology to examine the relationship between conceptions of self and conceptions of God. The way these conceptions shift over time, and the way biblical text itself reflects on these changes, shed new light on changing notions of self and God, and the relationship between these changes.


David Gottlieb is a PhD Candidate in the History of Judaism at the University of Chicago Divinity School. His research focuses on interpretations of the Binding of Isaac and the formation of Jewish cultural memory. He can be reached at davidg1@uchicago.edu.

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Oct 23 2017

47mins

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Rank #6: Paul Hanebrink, "A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism" (Harvard UP, 2018)

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In A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism (Harvard University Press, 2018), Paul Hanebrink, Professor of History and Jewish Studies at Rutgers University, traces the complex history of the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism. Hanebrink shows how Fascists, Conservatives and Nazis imagined Jewish Bolsheviks as enemies who crossed borders to subvert order from within and bring destructive ideas from abroad. This is a hundred years history that traces how this myth transformed through the Cold War period and continues to this day in new forms. Hanebrink's book breaks new ground, is based on brilliant research and is highly readable.

Dr Max Kaiser teaches at the University of Melbourne. He can be reached at kaiserm@unimelb.edu.au

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Mar 16 2020

37mins

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Rank #7: Sarah Imhoff, “Masculinity and the Making of American Judaism” (Indiana UP, 2017)

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In her new book, Masculinity and the Making of American Judaism (Indiana University Press, 2017), Professor Sarah Imhoff explores the relationship between American identity and American Jewish depictions and definitions of masculinity. Professor Imhoff examines Jewish communal efforts to consciously create an American Jewish masculinity — one that is tied to the land, modeled on Protestant delimitations of masculine virtues — and she analyzes popular conceptions about and ambivalence toward the American Jewish male. Professor Imhoff explores the ways in which conscious efforts to forge a connection between the Jewish male body and the American land collide with anti-Semitic stereotypes, and with an emerging range of Jewish masculinities, in this multifaceted work.


Sarah Imhoff is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Religious Studies, and Director of Graduate Studies in the Robert A. and Sandra S. Borns Jewish Studies Program at Indiana University.


David Gottlieb is a PhD Candidate in the History of Judaism at the University of Chicago Divinity School. His research focuses on interpretations of the Binding of Isaac and the formation of Jewish cultural memory. He can be reached at davidg1@uchicago.edu.

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May 31 2017

42mins

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Rank #8: Barry W. Holtz, “Rabbi Akiva: Sage of the Talmud” (Yale UP, 2017)

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Born in the Land of Israel around the year 50 C.E., Rabbi Akiva was the greatest rabbi of his time and one of the most important influences on Judaism as we know it today. Traditional sources tell how he was raised in poverty and unschooled in religious tradition but began to learn the Torah as an adult. In the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E., he helped shape a new direction for Judaism through his brilliance and his character. Mystic, legalist, theologian, and interpreter, he disputed with his colleagues in dramatic fashion yet was admired and beloved by his peers. Executed by Roman authorities for his insistence on teaching Torah in public, he became the exemplar of Jewish martyrdom.


Drawing on the latest historical and literary scholarship, Barry W. Holtz‘s Rabbi Akiva: Sage of the Talmud (Yale University Press, 2017) goes beyond older biographies, untangling a complex assortment of ancient sources to present a clear and nuanced portrait of Talmudic hero Rabbi Akiva.


Phillip Sherman is Associate Professor of Religion at Maryville College in Maryville, TN.

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Sep 26 2017

53mins

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Rank #9: Marc B. Shapiro, “Changing the Immutable: How Orthodox Judaism Rewrites Its History” (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2015)

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In Changing the Immutable: How Orthodox Judaism Rewrites Its History (The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2015), Marc B. Shapiro, the Weinberg Chair of Judaic Studies at the University of Scranton, explores how segments of the Orthodox Jewish world rewrite the past by editing or erasing that which does not fit in with their contemporary world-view.  He surveys a variety of types of censorship, including the censoring of Jewish thought, Halakhah (Jewish law), and sexual matter.  The book asks us to reconsider the value of the concept of “truth” in Orthodox Judaism.

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Apr 03 2016

35mins

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Rank #10: Dov Weiss, “Pious Irreverence: Confronting God in Rabbinic Judaism” (U. Pennsylvania Press, 2016)

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Judaism is often described as a religion that tolerates, even celebrates arguments with God. Unlike Christianity and Islam, it is said, Judaism endorses a tradition of protest as first expressed in the biblical stories of Abraham, Job, and Jeremiah. In Pious Irreverence: Confronting God in Rabbinic Judaism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), Dov Weiss has written the first scholarly study of the premodern roots of this distinctively Jewish theology of protest, examining its origins and development in the rabbinic age.


Weiss argues that this particular Jewish relationship to the divine is rooted in the most canonical of rabbinic texts even as he demonstrates that in ancient Judaism the idea of debating God was itself a matter of debate. By elucidating competing views and exploring their theological assumptions, the book challenges the scholarly claim that the early rabbis conceived of God as a morally perfect being whose goodness had to be defended in the face of biblical accounts of unethical divine action. Pious Irreverence examines the way in which the rabbis searched the words of the Torah for hidden meanings that could grant them the moral authority to express doubt about, and frustration with, the biblical God. Using characters from the Bible as their mouthpieces, they often challenges God’s behavior, even, in a few remarkable instances, envisioning God as conceding error and declaring to the protestor, “You have taught Me something; I will nullify my decree and accept your word.”


Phillip Sherman is Associate Professor of Religion at Maryville College in Maryville, TN.

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Dec 12 2016

59mins

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Rank #11: Paul Mendes-Flohr, "Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent" (Yale UP, 2019)

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In Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent (Yale University Press, 2019), Paul Mendes-Flohr, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago Divinity School and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, paints a detailed and compelling portrait of one of the twentieth century's most versatile and influential thinkers. Tracing Buber's personal and intellectual biographical arcs, Mendes-Flohr helps us understand Buber as an accomplished scholar, a reverent student of Judaism, and a proponent of genuine engagement on the personal, cultural, and political levels -- but also as a person at times deeply affected by loss, dislocation, and marginalization.

David Gottlieb earned his PhD, studying under Professor Mendes-Flohr in the History of Judaism at the University of Chicago Divinity School, in 2018. He teaches at Spertus Institute in Chicago, and is the author of the forthcoming Second Slayings: The Binding of Isaac and the Formation of Jewish Memory (Gorgias Press).

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Nov 11 2019

49mins

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Rank #12: Jack Wertheimer, "The New American Judaism: How Jews Practice their Religion Today" (Princeton UP, 2018)

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Countless sociological studies and surveys present a rather bleak picture of religion and religious engagement in the United States. Attendance at worship services remains very low and approximately one quarter of Americans indicate that they are not affiliated with any religion. This trend extends to the Jewish community, and American Jews are also experiencing decreasing synagogue attendance and low levels of adherence. However, Jack Wertheimer presents an alternative reading of American Jewish life in his new book, The New American Judaism: How Jews Practice their Religion Today (Princeton University Press, 2018). Wertheimer argues that American Jews are indeed engaging with Judaism, albeit in unique and unorthodox ways. Wertheimer analyses how certain American values and phenomena, such as hyper-individualism and “do-it-yourself” religion, are impacting the ways in which American Jews practice their religion and have paved the way for new forms and expressions of Judaism. Wertheimer also demonstrates how synagogues and congregational rabbis are responding to the shifting needs of American Jews. Although many Jews do not attend synagogue on a regular basis and do not observe many traditional commandments, or mitzvot, American Jews are not necessarily abandoning Judaism; rather, they are engaging with their religion in ways that are conducive with their unique values, beliefs, and lifestyles and by extension are creating a new form of American Judaism.

Jack Wertheimer is Joseph and Martha Mendelson Professor of American Jewish history at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City.

Lindsey Jackson is a PhD student at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.

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May 06 2019

1hr 3mins

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Rank #13: Deborah E. Lipstadt, "Antisemitism: Here and Now" (Schocken, 2019)

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Over the past decade, and especially in the last several years, anti-Semitic crimes have increased significantly. According to FBI Statistics, hate crimes against Jews in the US spiked 37% between 2016 and 2017. We are witnessing similar trends in Canada, where anti-Semitic crimes increased by 60% since last year, according to Statistics Canada. Why is it that anti-Semitism continues to thrive? Why won’t this irrational hatred die? What factors contribute to the rise of anti-Semitism? Deborah E. Lipstadt addresses these, and many other questions, in her book, Antisemitism: Here and Now(Schocken, 2019). The number 1 best-seller in Human Rights Law on Amazon, Lipstadt’s book is a provocative page-turner about this ancient and persistent form of hatred and prejudice.

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Mar 28 2019

53mins

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Rank #14: Samuel Goldman, "God’s Country: Christian Zionism in America" (U Penn Press, 2018)

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Samuel Goldman, who teaches political science at George Washington University, Washington DC, has written a powerfully impressive new book on the long history of the political theology that he describes as “Christian Zionism.” God’s Country: Christian Zionism in America takes some very unexpected routes through a subject that, in some respects, is well-known. Beginning his account with English puritans in the early seventeenth century, and tracing the impact of their expectation of the future restoration of Jewish people to the Promised Land, he shows how this discourse became increasingly and then distinctively American, and until some new religious movements, such as the Mormons, came to imagine the new world as itself the location within which end-times prophecies would be fulfilled. Only since the 1980s has the term “Christian Zionism” entered the political lexicon as a neologism that obscures as much as it reveals about the agendas of those it is used to describe. God’s Country is an expansive, often surprising and always insightful account of a political theology that continues to resonate in discussions of modern American politics and foreign policy.

Crawford Gribben is a professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast. His research interests focus on the history of puritanism and evangelicalism, and he is the author most recently of John Owen and English Puritanism (Oxford University Press, 2016).

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Oct 28 2019

34mins

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Rank #15: Nicholas Blincoe, "More Noble Than War: A Soccer History of Israel-Palestine" (Bold Type Books, 2019)

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Nicholas Blincoe’s More Noble Than War: A Soccer History of Israel-Palestine (Bold Type Books, 2019) is a beautifully narrated and written history of a century of conflict between pre-state Jews and Palestinians and Israeli Jews and Israeli Palestinians after the establishment of the state. It is a story that goes far beyond the history of the conflict, the mirror images of developments in Jewish and Palestinian society, and the internecine ideological infighting and power struggles within the two communities. It paints in graphic detail the incestuous and inseparable relationship between sports and politics and the importance of soccer, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, in identity and nation formation as well as nation building. It also demonstrates in graphic detail how first Jews and then Palestinians exploited soccer to first achieve international recognition of their struggles and then as nations by dispatching teams to tour other countries and being granted membership in world soccer body FIFA. In doing so, Israelis and Palestinians set an example that decades later became a key pillar of the Algerian liberation struggle in the 1950s and 1960s with the National Liberation Front (FLN)’s creation of its own national soccer team that put its fight for independence on the world map. The skeletal facts of Blincoe’s tale have long been known. The significance of Blincoe’s contribution is that he puts flesh on the skeleton by weaving the facts into a meticulously researched and reported, easily accessible narrative in which he brings key players and ideological trends to life. It’s a tale that is all fact but reads like a thriller.

James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute.

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Feb 19 2020

1hr 1min

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Rank #16: Lyn Julius, "Uprooted: How 3000 Years of Jewish Civilization in the Arab World Vanished Overnight" (Vallentine Mitchell, 2018)

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Who are the Jews from Arab countries? What were relations with Muslims like? What made Jews leave countries where they had been settled for thousands of years? And what lessons can we learn from the mass exodus of minorities from the Middle East?

This neglected piece of history, as ancient as the Bible, and as modern as today’s news, is urgently relevant today, as minorities continue to face discrimination, persecution, ethnic cleansing and even genocide in parts of the Middle East.

Jews lived continuously in the Middle East and North Africa for almost 3,000 years, long predating the rise of Islam. Yet, as Lyn Julius explains in her new book Uprooted: How 3000 Years of Jewish Civilization in the Arab World Vanished Overnight (Vallentine Mitchell, 2018), their indigenous communities throughout the region almost totally disappeared as more than 99 percent of the Jewish population fled. Those with foreign passports and connections generally left for Europe, Australia, or the Americas. The rest - including a minority of ideological Zionists - went to Israel. Today over 50 percent of Israel's Jews are “Mizrahim”, refugees from Arab and Muslim countries, or their descendants.

This same process is now repeating in Christian and other minority communities across the Middle East.

Renee Garfinkel is a psychologist, writer, and Middle East commentator for the nationally syndicated TV program, The Armstrong Williams Show. Write her at r.garfinkel@yahoo.com or tweet @embracingwisdom

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Dec 09 2019

41mins

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Rank #17: David Jacobson, “The Charm of Wise Hesitancy: Talmudic Stories in Contemporary Israeli Culture” (Academic Studies Press, 2017)

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In The Charm of Wise Hesitancy: Talmudic Stories in Contemporary Israeli Culture (Academic Studies Press, 2017), David Jacobson, Professor of Judaic Studies at Brown University, offers an overview and detailed analysis of one of a most intriguing cultural phenomenon in contemporary Israel: A “return to the (supposedly religious) Jewish bookshelf” by both self-proclaimed secularist Israelis and orthodox Jews. Specifically, Jacobson is interested in Israeli readings of Talmudic narratives, and the way these readings reflect upon contemporary Jewish-Israeli identity. His book both situates the phenomenon in its socio-historical context, and offers a detailed analysis of the discourse on certain Talmudic narratives.

Yaacov Yadgar is the Stanley Lewis Professor of Israel Studies at the University of Oxford. His most recent book is Sovereign Jews: Israel, Zionism and Judaism (SUNY Press, 2017). You can read more of Yadgar’s work here.

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Nov 28 2017

38mins

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Rank #18: Keren R. McGinity, “Marrying Out: Jewish Men, Intermarriage, and Fatherhood” (Indiana UP, 2014)

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In Marrying Out: Jewish Men, Intermarriage, and Fatherhood (Indiana University Press, 2014), Keren R. McGinity, founding director of the Love and Tradition Institute and a Research Associate at Brandeis University, seeks to challenge the common assumption that when American Jewish men intermarry, they and their families are “lost” to the Jewish religion.  McGinity explores the challenges and expectations intermarried Jewish men face as they strive to be good husbands and to raise their children Jewish.  Her analysis reminds us more broadly that “gendered” studies should look at women and men’s experiences.

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Feb 08 2016

32mins

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Rank #19: Peter Bergamin, "The Making of the Israeli Far-Right: Abba Ahimeir and Zionist Ideology” (I. B. Tauris, 2019)

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Peter Bergamin’s, new book, The Making of the Israeli Far-Right: Abba Ahimeir and Zionist Ideology (I. B. Tauris, 2019), is an intellectual biography of one of the most important propagators of the Maximalist Revisionist stream in Zionism ideology. The book positions Ahimeir within the contexts of the Israeli right and the Zionist movement in general, and corrects some common misunderstandings surrounding the man and his ideology.

Yaacov Yadgar is the Stanley Lewis Professor of Israel Studies at the University of Oxford. His most recent book is Sovereign Jews: Israel, Zionism and Judaism (SUNY Press, 2017). You can read more of Yadgar’s work here.

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Jan 31 2020

37mins

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Rank #20: Ellie Schainker, “Confessions of the Shtetl: Converts from Judaism in Imperial Russia, 1817-1906” (Stanford UP, 2016)

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In Confessions of the Shtetl: Converts from Judaism in Imperial Russia, 1817-1906 (Stanford University Press, 2016), Ellie Schainker, the Arthur Blank Family Foundation Assistant Professor of History and Jewish Studies at Emory University, complicates the traditional narrative of Jewish religious insularity within Imperial Russia in her new book on converts from Judaism. By exploring 19th century Russia’s multi-confessional landscape and the spaces in which Jewish men and women encountered those of other religious communities, Schainker uses the lens of conversion to explore Jewish and Russian Orthodox anxieties over group boundaries and the extent to which converts, far from being exiles within their Jewish communities, occupied sustained, liminal positions that attracted the interests of Jews, Christians, and Russian state officials.

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Jan 10 2017

39mins

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Rachel Manekin, "The Rebellion of the Daughters: Jewish Women Runaways in Habsburg Galicia" (Princeton UP, 2020)

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In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, over three hundred young Jewish women from Orthodox, mostly Hasidic, homes in Western Galicia (now Poland) fled their communities and sought refuge in a Kraków convent, where many converted to Catholicism.

Relying on a wealth of archival documents, including court testimonies, letters, diaries, and press reports, in The Rebellion of the Daughters: Jewish Women Runaways in Habsburg Galicia (Princeton University Press, 2020), Rachel Manekin reconstructs the stories of three Jewish women runaways and reveals their struggles and innermost convictions. Unlike Orthodox Jewish boys, who attended "cheders," traditional schools where only Jewish subjects were taught, Orthodox Jewish girls were sent to Polish primary schools. When the time came for them to marry, many young women rebelled against the marriages arranged by their parents, with some wishing to pursue secondary and university education. After World War I, the crisis of the rebellious daughters in Kraków spurred the introduction of formal religious education for young Orthodox Jewish women in Poland, which later developed into a worldwide educational movement. Manekin chronicles the belated Orthodox response and argues that these educational innovations not only kept Orthodox Jewish women within the fold but also foreclosed their opportunities for higher education.

Exploring the estrangement of young Jewish women from traditional Judaism in Habsburg Galicia at the turn of the twentieth century, The Rebellion of the Daughters brings to light a forgotten yet significant episode in Eastern European history.

Rachel Manekin is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland. Her area of specialization is the social, political, and cultural history of Galician Jewry. She is also the author of The Jews of Galicia and the Austrian Constitution: The Beginning of Modern Jewish Politics (Jerusalem: Shazar Institute, 2015).

Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). Visit him online at ZalmanNewfield.com

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Oct 21 2020

53mins

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Bernice Lerner, "All the Horrors of War: A Jewish Girl, a British Doctor, and the Liberation of Bergen-Belsen" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2020)

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One was a teenage Jewish girl, forcibly transported from her home in Hungary to a Nazi concentration camp. The other was a British doctor, whose experiences serving in two world wars could not compare to the horrors he saw at the end of the war.

In her book All the Horrors of War: A Jewish Girl, a British Doctor, and the Liberation of Bergen-Belsen (Johns Hopkins UP, 2020), Bernice Lerner describes their lives – one of them her mother, the other one of the people who helped save her – and how they intersected when British forces liberated Bergen-Belsen in April 1945. For Rachel Genuth, her life began to change when Hungarian troops marched into the formerly Romanian town of Sighet in September 1940. From that point onward, her family’s lives and those of her neighbors were increasingly restricted until they were deported to Auschwitz in the spring of 1944. While she struggled to survive, H. L. Glyn Hughes, the deputy director of medical services for the British VIII Corps, participated in the Allied liberation of western Europe, an experience that brought him to the Bergen-Belsen camp, where Rachel had been marched ahead of the Soviet advance to the east. Hughes spent the next several months organizing an unprecedented relief operation, trying desperately to save lives of thousands suffering from starvation and disease. Among them was Rachel, who was subsequently evacuated to Sweden, where she began the slow process of restarting her live after having survived so much death.

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Oct 16 2020

45mins

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Karen Taliaferro, "The Possibility of Religious Freedom: Early Natural Law and the Abrahamic Faiths" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

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Religious freedom debates set blood boiling. Just consider notable Supreme Court cases of recent years such as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission or Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania. How can we reach any agreement between those who adhere strictly to the demands of divine law and the individual conscience and those for whom human-derived law is paramount? Is there any legal and philosophical framework that can mediate when tensions erupt between the human right of religious liberty and laws in the secular realm?

In her 2019 book, The Possibility of Religious Freedom: Early Natural Law and the Abrahamic Faiths (Cambridge UP), Karen Taliaferro argues that natural law can act as just such a mediating tool. Natural law thinking can both help protect religious freedom and enable societies across the globe to maintain social peace and to function on the basis of fairness to all. Taliaferro shows that natural law is not merely a somewhat arcane legal philosophy promulgated by a subset of mostly conservative Catholic scholars and philosophers. She argues that natural law offers those in many faith traditions and those of no faith whatever a workable, intellectually rich way to examine fundamental questions of law and fairness without relegating religion to ever-diminishing permissible venues.

One of the signal contributions of the book is that Taliaferro shows us how non-Christian thinkers such as the Muslim scholar Ibn Rushd (also known as Averroes), the Jewish philosopher Maimonides, and Sophocles in his play Antigone (and Taliaferro’s original and provocative reading of that work alone is well worth the price of the book) employed natural law reasoning even if they did not use the term as such. For those who need to learn how societies around the world (and Taliaferro draws fascinatingly on her own experiences in the Middle East at times in the book) can balance the rights of religious people and the demands of other citizens for a strict, often ruthless secularism this book is the place to start. Give a listen.

Hope J. Leman is a grants researcher.

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Oct 13 2020

1hr 22mins

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R. Rosenberg and R. Rubinstein, "Teaching Jewish American Literature" (MLA, 2020)

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In this interview, Roberta Rosenberg and Rachel Rubinstein (editors), engage our listeners in a conversation about different approaches to teaching Jewish American Literature, complicating what it means to be “American”. Teaching Jewish American Literature (MLA, 2020) consciously pushes against the boundaries of the canon, and undermine the stereotype of the immigrant Jewish experience. A multilingual, transnational literary tradition, Jewish American writing has long explored questions of personal identity and national boundaries. These questions can engage students in literature, writing, or religion; at Jewish, Christian, or secular schools; and in or outside the United States.

This volume takes an expansive view of Jewish American literature, beginning with writing from the earliest colonies in the Americas and continuing to contemporary Soviet-born authors in the United States, including works that engage deeply with religious concepts and others that embrace assimilation. It invites readers to rethink the nature of American multiculturalism, suggests pairings of Jewish American texts with other ethnic American literatures, and examines the workings of whiteness and privilege.

Contributors offer varied perspectives on classic texts such as Yekl, Bread Givers, and “Goodbye, Columbus,” along with approaches to interdisciplinary topics including humor, graphic novels, and musical theater. The volume concludes with an extensive resources section.

Roberta Rosenberg is professor emerita at Christopher Newport University, and Rachel Rubinstein taught at Hampshire College and serves as vice president of Academic and Student Affairs at Holyoke Community College.

Rachel Adelman (the host) is Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at Hebrew College in Boston, MA.

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Oct 09 2020

1hr 3mins

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Jeremy Black, "The Holocaust: History and Memory" (Indiana UP, 2016)

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The event that is commonly labeled as the ‘Holocaust’, was one of the most horrific of the Twentieth Century. It is also one of the most popularly discussed events of both the past and the current century. And like many popular events it is filled with mis-understandings and mis-interpretations.

Here to explicate and clarify this most important of events is master-historian and polymath, Professor of History Emeritus at Exeter University, Jeremy Black, CMG in his book, The Holocaust: History and Memory (Indiana University Press). The most prolific historian writing in the Anglophone world to-day, Professor Black is precisely the type of historian to bring some light and clarity to this darkest of events.

Black’s book takes the reader from the 19th century to the present day, all the while endeavoring to explicate for the lay educated reader and the academic one, his take on the causation of the Holocaust. A book which without a doubt should be on the bookshelf of anyone who is seriously interested in this most fraught of topics.

Charles Coutinho has a doctorate in history from New York University. Where he studied with Tony Judt, Stewart Stehlin and McGeorge Bundy. His Ph. D. dissertation was on Anglo-American relations in the run-up to the Suez Crisis of 1956. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for the Journal of Intelligence History and Chatham House’s International Affairs. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to Charlescoutinho@aol.com.

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Oct 08 2020

37mins

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Alan Brill, " Rabbi on the Ganges: A Jewish-Hindu Encounter" (Lexington, 2019)

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How do Judaism and Hinduism compare as religions? Beyond the academic merits of comparative religion, what can adherents to one of these faiths gain by learning about the other?

Alan Brill's new book Rabbi on the Ganges: A Jewish-Hindu Encounter (Lexington Books, 2019) is the first work to engage the new terrain of Hindu-Jewish religious encounter. The book offers understanding into points of contact between the two religions of Hinduism and Judaism. Providing an important comparative account, the work illuminates key ideas and practices within the traditions, surfacing commonalities between the jnana and Torah study, karmakanda and Jewish ritual, and between the different Hindu philosophic schools and Jewish thought and mysticism, along with meditation and the life of prayer and Kabbalah and creating dialogue around ritual, mediation, worship, and dietary restrictions. The goal of the book is not only to unfold the content of these faith traditions but also to create a religious encounter marked by mutual and reciprocal understanding and openness.

For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com/scholarship.

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Oct 02 2020

37mins

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Alan L. Mittleman, "Does Judaism Condone Violence?: Holiness and Ethics in the Jewish Tradition" (Princeton UP, 2018)

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What exactly does the word “holy” mean in various religious traditions? What is the opposite of it in translations from the Hebrew? Is the antonym of “holy” in the Old Testament not, as many of us assume, “profane” but “unclean?” And, if so, what are the theological implications and in human affairs of that difference?

How did Biblical figures such as Moses and Joshua justify brutal levels of violence against their enemies? What motivated that violence in the first place—and is there, in fact, any evidence that any took place at that level in those times?

What did leading philosophers from Maimonides to William James to Abraham Joshua Heschel have to say about the concept of the “holy” and is there a difference in meaning between the words “sacred” and “holy?”

Is it even rational to believe that something is “holy” or are such beliefs relics that have only been used to justify religious violence? Is there a place for the concept of the holy in our time and in our actions and world views?

These are some of the questions that Alan L. Mittleman addresses in his 2018 book, Does Judaism Condone Violence?: Holiness and Ethics in the Jewish Tradition (Princeton UP, 2018).

Given that in recent years we have seen the desecration of religious sites and murders and assaults by and on religious people of all faiths across the globe, Mittleman’s book is timely for not only Jewish readers but anyone who wishes to know more about the history of violence and the often seemingly contradictory ways God and otherwise humane people employ it or condone it.

The book is a learned study of our sometimes blood-stained, but also noble, past.

Give a listen.

Hope J. Leman is a grants researcher.

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Sep 29 2020

1hr 1min

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Kenneth Austin, "The Jews and the Reformation" (Yale UP, 2020)

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Kenneth Austin, who teaches history at the University of Bristol, UK, is well-known for his work on Jews and Judaism in early modern Europe. His new book, The Jews and the Reformation (Yale University Press, 2020), offers the most thorough description and analysis of its subject to date. Austin describes the long and complex history of the two traditions, shows how both religions defined themselves in opposition to each other, and how competing confessional communities that emerged out of the European reformations adopted quite different attitudes to their Jewish neighbors. This outstanding work promises to revolutionize the ways in which future scholars will approach this complex and demanding subject.

Crawford Gribben is a professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast. His research interests focus on the history of puritanism and evangelicalism, and he is the author most recently of An introduction to John Owen (Crossway, 2020).

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Sep 21 2020

40mins

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Karen E. H. Skinazi, "Women of Valor: Orthodox Jewish Troll Fighters, Crime Writers, and Rock Stars in Contemporary Literature and Culture" (Rutgers UP, 2018)

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Media portrayals of Orthodox Jewish women frequently depict powerless, silent individuals who are at best naive to live an Orthodox lifestyle, and who are at worst, coerced into it. In Women of Valor: Orthodox Jewish Troll Fighters, Crime Writers, and Rock Stars in Contemporary Literature and Culture (Rutgers University Press, 2018), Karen E. H. Skinazi delves beyond this stereotype to identify a powerful tradition of feminist literary portrayals of Orthodox women, often created by Orthodox women themselves.

She examines Orthodox women as they appear in memoirs, comics, novels, and movies, and speaks with the authors, filmmakers, and musicians who create these representations. Throughout the work, Skinazi threads lines from the poem “Eshes Chayil,” the Biblical description of an Orthodox “Woman of Valor.” This proverb unites Orthodoxy and feminism in a complex relationship, where Orthodox women continuously question, challenge, and negotiate Orthodox and feminist values.

Ultimately, these women create paths that unite their work, passions, and families under the framework of an “Eshes Chayil,” a woman who situates religious conviction within her own power.

Dr. Karen E. H. Skinazi is a Senior Lecturer (associate professor) and the Director of Liberal Arts at the University of Bristol in the UK. She published a critical edition of the 1916 novel Marion: The Story of an Artist’s Model (McGill-Queen’s UP, 2012) by Winnifred Eaton/Onoto Watanna, the first Asian North American novelist. She is currently working on a project examining the productive interface between Muslim and Jewish women’s lives, literature, and activism.

Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism. Visit him online at ZalmanNewfield.com.

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Sep 21 2020

1hr 1min

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Aaron Koller, "Unbinding Isaac: The Significance of the Akedah for Modern Jewish Thought" (Jewish Publication Society, 2020)

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In Unbinding Isaac: The Significance of the Akedah for Modern Jewish Thought (Jewish Publication Society, 2020), Aaron Koller, professor of Near Eastern and Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University, provides a compelling contemporary perspective on one of the Bible's most famous and difficult texts, the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac. By plumbing the depths of commentaries both ancient and modern, Koller breaks new scholarly ground and reaches convincing ethical conclusions derived from a close reading of both the text and the more influential of its numerous interpretations. Koller provides the reader with a heightened understanding of the roles that the Akedah has played, and the roles it must now play, in Jewish thought and theology.

David Gottlieb, a member of the teaching faculty at Spertus Institute in Chicago, received his PhD in the History of Judaism from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2018. He is the author of Second Slayings: The Binding of Isaac and the Formation of Jewish Memory (Gorgias Press, 2019).

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Sep 18 2020

1hr

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Ezra Cappell and Jessica Lang, "Off the Derech: Leaving Orthodox Judaism" (SUNY Press, 2020)

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Off the Derech: Leaving Orthodox Judaism (SUNY Press, 2020), edited by Ezra Cappell and Jessica Lang, combines powerful first-person accounts with incisive scholarly analysis to understand the phenomenon of ultra-Orthodox Jews who leave their insular communities and venture into the wider world.

In recent years, many formerly ultra-Orthodox Jews have documented leaving their communities in published stories, films, and memoirs. This movement is often identified as “off the derech” (OTD), or off the path, with the idea that the “path” is paved by Jewish law, rituals, and practices found within their birth communities. This volume tells the powerful stories of people abandoning their religious communities and embarking on uncertain journeys toward new lives and identities within mainstream society. Off the Derech is divided into two parts: stories and analysis. The first includes original selections from contemporary American and global authors writing about their OTD experiences. The second features chapters by scholars representing such diverse fields as literature, history, sociology, psychology, anthropology, religion, and gender studies. The interdisciplinary lenses provide a range of methodologies by which readers can better understand this significant phenomenon within contemporary Jewish society.

Today I talked to: Ezra Cappell, Professor of Jewish Studies and English and Director of the Perlmutter Fellows Program at the College of Charleston; Jessica Lang, a Professor of English and Jewish Studies at Baruch College, CUNY; Jericho Vincent, a writer and lecturer; Frieda Vizel, a specialized tour guide in Jewish Brooklyn.

Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). Visit him online at ZalmanNewfield.com.

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Sep 11 2020

41mins

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Alexander Kaye, "The Invention of Jewish Theocracy: The Struggle for Legal Authority in Modern Israel" (Oxford UP, 2020)

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The tension between secular politics and religious fundamentalism is a problem shared by many modern states. This is certainly true of the State of Israel, where the religious-secular schism provokes conflict at every level of society. Driving this schism is the idea of the halakhic state, the demand by many religious Jews that Israel should be governed by the law of the Torah as interpreted by Orthodox rabbis.

The Invention of Jewish Theocracy: The Struggle for Legal Authority in Modern Israel (Oxford University Press) traces the origins of the idea, its development, and its crucial importance in Israel's past and present. The book also shows how the history of this idea engages with burning contemporary debates on questions of global human rights, the role of religion in Middle East conflicts, and the long-term consequences of European imperialism.

The Invention of Jewish Theocracy is an intellectual history, based on newly discovered material from numerous Israeli archives, private correspondence, court records, and lesser-known published works. It explains why the idea of the halakhic state emerged when it did, what happened after it initially failed to take hold, and how it has regained popularity in recent decades, provoking cultural conflict that has severely shaken Israeli society.

The book's historical analysis gives rise to two wide-reaching insights. First, it argues that religious politics in Israel can be understood only within the context of the largely secular history of European nationalism and not, as is commonly argued, as an anomalous exception to it. It shows how even religious Jews most opposed to modern political thought nevertheless absorbed the fundamental assumptions of modern European political thought and reread their own religious traditions onto that model.

Second, it demonstrates that religious-secular tensions are built into the intellectual foundations of Israel rather than being the outcome of major events like the 1967 War. These insights have significant ramifications for the understanding of the modern state. In particular, the account of the blurring of the categories of "secular" and "religious" illustrated in the book are relevant to all studies of modern history and to scholars of the intersection of religion and human rights.

Alexander Kaye, Karl, Harry, and Helen Stoll Chair of Israel Studies; Assistant Professor, Department of Near East and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University.

Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a Jerusalem-based psychologist, Middle East television commentator, and host of the Van Leer Jerusalem Series on Ideas with Renee Garfinkel https://newbooksnetwork.com/category/van-leer-institute/

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Sep 09 2020

52mins

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T. P. Kaplan and W. Gruner, "Resisting Persecution: Jews and Their Petitions during the Holocaust" (Berghahn, 2020)

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In 20 years of studying the Holocaust, it didn’t occurr to me that German officials might, when petitioned by German Jews or by Germans advocating for German Jews, change their minds. But it turns out that, sometimes, they did. And even when they didn’t, petitioning local, regional or national officials (often all at the same time) could delay deportations or punishments or even function as a form of resistance.

Resisting Persecution: Jews and Their Petitions during the Holocaust (Berghahn Books) looks at these petitions from a variety of perspectives. As editors Thomas Kaplan and Wolf Gruner argue, this is a topic that is surprisingly undercovered. And it’s a topic rich in insight and importance. The book shows clearly that petitioning was a common practice. It shows clearly that petitions were sometimes granted. It shows clearly that petitions sometimes led to unexpected and unusual outcomes. And it shows us that studying petitions sometimes opens our eyes to new ways of understanding old topics.

The book isn’t the last word on petitions, nor does it pretend to be. Rather, Kaplan and Gruner open up a new avenue of investigation, one that offers researchers topics to work on for many years to come.

Thomas Pegelow Kaplan is the Leon Levine Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies at Appalachian State University.

Wolf Gruner is the Shapell-Guerin Chair in Jewish Studies, Professor of History and Founding Director of the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research at the University of Southern California.

Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University. He’s the author of four modules in the Reacting to the Past series, including The Needs of Others: Human Rights, International Organizations and Intervention in Rwanda, 1994, published by W. W. Norton Press.

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Sep 08 2020

1hr 5mins

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Assaf Gavron, "The Hilltop" (Scribner, 2015)

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Mordantly funny and deeply moving, The Hilltop about life in a West Bank settlement has been hailed as “brilliant” (The New York Times Book Review) and “The Great Israeli Novel [in which] Gavron stakes his claim to be Israel’s Jonathan Franzen” (Tablet).

On a rocky hilltop stands Ma’aleh Hermesh C, a fledgling outpost of Jewish settlers in the West Bank. According to government records it doesn’t exist; according to the military it must be defended. On this contested land, Othniel Assis—under the wary gaze of the Palestinians in the neighboring village—lives on his farm with his ever-expanding family. As Othniel cheerfully manipulates government agencies, more settlers arrive, and a hodge-podge of shipping containers and mobile homes takes root.

One steadfast resident is Gabi Kupper, a former kibbutz dweller who savors the delicate routines of life on the settlement. When Gabi’s prodigal brother, Roni, arrives penniless on his doorstep with a bizarre plan to sell the “artisanal” olive oil from the Palestinian village to Tel Aviv yuppies, Gabi worries his life won’t stay quiet for long. Then a nosy American journalist stumbles into Ma’aleh Hermesh C, and Gabi’s worst fears are confirmed. The settlement becomes the focus of an international diplomatic scandal, facing its greatest threat yet.

This “indispensable novel” (The Wall Street Journal) skewers the complex, often absurd reality of life in Israel. Grappling with one of the most charged geo-political issues of our time, “Gavron’s story gains a foothold in our hearts and minds and stubbornly refuses to leave” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

Dr. Yakir Englander is the National Director of Leadership programs at the Israeli-American Council. He also teaches at the AJR. He is a Fulbright scholar and was a visiting professor of Religion at Northwestern University, the Shalom Hartman Institute and Harvard Divinity School. His books are Sexuality and the Body in New Religious Zionist Discourse (English/Hebrew and The Male Body in Jewish Lithuanian Ultra-Orthodoxy (Hebrew). He can be reached at: Yakir1212englander@gmail.com

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Sep 07 2020

53mins

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Tamar Herzig, "A Convert’s Tale: Art, Crime, and Jewish Apostasy in Renaissance Italy" (Harvard UP, 2019)

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On this episode of New Books in History, Jana Byars talks with Tamar Herzig, Professor of History at Tel Aviv University, the Director of Tel Aviv University’s Morris E Curiel Institute for European Studies, and as the Vice Chairperson of the Historical Society of Israel about her new book, A Convert’s Tale: Art, Crime, and Jewish Apostasy in Renaissance Italy (Harvard University Press).

Dr. Herzig took time out from her extraordinarily busy schedule to discuss her exciting new read, detailing the life of a very interesting, possibly tragic, definitely frustrating Italian Jew turned Christian goldsmith who was, on one hand, connected to the wealthiest and most powerful of families in Northern Italy, and, on the other, an inveterate gambler and general lout.

Salomone da Sesso, was so good at his job that he was a verifiable celebrity. He had a very complex relationship with, and occasionally ran afoul of, his fellow Jews, so much so that he is charged with sodomy (amongst other things) and coverts to Christianity.

As Ercole de Fidelis (Ercole the Faithful) he enjoyed the favor of the likes of Isabella d’Este and Lucrezia Borgia. When he lost their support, however, he fell into poverty. He was forced into exile and died unnoticed. We discuss microhistory, Jewish apostasy, sodomy, and the archival tradition.

Jana Byars is the Academic Director of Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender.

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Sep 04 2020

1hr 3mins

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Yehoshua November, "Two Worlds Exist" (Orison Books, 2016)

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Yehoshua November's second poetry collection, Two Worlds Exist (Orison Books), movingly examines the harmonies and dissonances involved in practicing an ancient religious tradition in contemporary America.

November's beautiful and profound meditations on work and family life, and the intersections of the sacred and the secular, invite the reader--regardless of background--to imaginatively inhabit a life of religious devotion in the midst of our society's commotion.

Yehoshua November's first poetry collection, God's Optimism, won the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award and was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize.

Dr. Yakir Englander is the National Director of Leadership programs at the Israeli-American Council. He also teaches at the AJR. He is a Fulbright scholar and was a visiting professor of Religion at Northwestern University, the Shalom Hartman Institute and Harvard Divinity School. His books are Sexuality and the Body in New Religious Zionist Discourse (English/Hebrew and The Male Body in Jewish Lithuanian Ultra-Orthodoxy (Hebrew). He can be reached at: Yakir1212englander@gmail.com

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Sep 04 2020

56mins

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John Barton, "A History of the Bible: The Story of the World's Most Influential Book" (Viking, 2019)

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John Barton is no stranger to Holy Scripture. Having spent much of his academic career as a chaplain and professor of theology at the University of Oxford, his latest book is an attempt to shed light on one of the world’s most influential texts – the Bible.

In A History of the Bible: The Story of the World's Most Influential Book (Viking, 2019), John demonstrates that the Bible, while often thought of as monolithic, is anything but. He paints a vivid picture of the historical backdrop against which the books of the Bible were written, injecting a dose of depth and character to the stories, psalms, prophecies, and letters it comprises. He then turns to how the book was compiled, assembled, and disseminated before finally discussing the plethora of interpretations of the Bible, and its place in the world we live in today.

Joshua Tham is an undergraduate reading History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His research interests include economic history, sociolinguistics, and the "linguistic turn" in historiography.

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Aug 31 2020

1hr 2mins

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Victoria de Grazia, "The Perfect Fascist: A Story of Love, Power, and Morality in Mussolini’s Italy" (Harvard UP, 2020)

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In her new book, The Perfect Fascist: A Story of Love, Power, and Morality in Mussolini’s Italy (Belknap Press), Dr. Victoria de Grazia takes the story of Attilio Teruzzi and explores the social history of fascism.

When Attilio Teruzzi, Mussolini’s handsome political enforcer, married a rising young American opera star, his good fortune seemed settled. The wedding was a carefully stage-managed affair, capped with a blessing by Mussolini himself. Yet only three years later, after being promoted to commander of the Black Shirts, Teruzzi renounced his wife.

In fascist Italy, a Catholic country with no divorce law, he could only dissolve the marriage by filing for an annulment through the medieval procedures of the Church Court. The proceedings took an ominous turn when Mussolini joined Hitler: Lilliana Teruzzi was Jewish, and fascist Italy would soon introduce its first race laws.

The Perfect Fascist pivots from the intimate story of a tempestuous seduction and inconvenient marriage―brilliantly reconstructed through family letters and court records―to a riveting account of Mussolini’s rise and fall. It invites us to see in the vain, loyal, lecherous, and impetuous Attilio Teruzzi, a decorated military officer, an exemplar of fascism’s New Man.

Why did he abruptly discard the woman he had so eagerly courted? And why, when the time came to find another partner, did he choose another Jewish woman as his would-be wife? In Victoria de Grazia’s engrossing account, we see him vacillating between the will of his Duce and the dictates of his heart.

De Grazia’s landmark history captures the seductive appeal of fascism and shows us how, in his moral pieties and intimate betrayals, his violence and opportunism, Teruzzi is a forefather of the illiberal politicians of today.

Victoria de Grazia is the Moore Collegiate Professor of History at Columbia University.

Craig Sorvillo is a PhD candidate in modern European history at the University of Florida. He specializes in Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust. He can be reached at craig.sorvillo@gmail.com or on twitter @craig_sorvillo.

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Aug 31 2020

1hr 3mins

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Rafael Medoff, "The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and the Holocaust" (JPS, 2019)

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Like so many Americans, American Jews supported President Roosevelt. They adored him. They believed in him. They idolized him.

Perhaps they shouldn’t have.

Based on recently discovered documents, The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and the Holocaust (Jewish Publication Society) reassesses the hows and whys behind the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration’s fateful policies during the Holocaust.

Rafael Medoff delves into difficult truths: With FDR’s consent, the administration deliberately suppressed European immigration far below the limits set by U.S. law. His administration also refused to admit Jewish refugees to the U.S. Virgin Islands, dismissed proposals to use empty Liberty ships returning from Europe to carry refugees, and rejected pleas to drop bombs on the railways leading to Auschwitz, even while American planes were bombing targets only a few miles away—actions that would not have conflicted with the larger goal of winning the war.

What motivated FDR? Medoff explores the sensitive question of the president’s private sentiments toward Jews. Unmasking strong parallels between Roosevelt’s statements regarding Jews and Asians, he connects the administration’s policies of excluding Jewish refugees and interning Japanese Americans.

The Jews Should Keep Quiet further reveals how FDR’s personal relationship with Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, American Jewry’s foremost leader in the 1930s and 1940s, swayed the U.S. response to the Holocaust. Documenting how Roosevelt and others pressured Rabbi Wise to stifle American Jewish criticism of FDR’s policies, Medoff chronicles how and why the American Jewish community largely fell in line with Wise. Ultimately Medoff weighs the administration’s realistic options for rescue action, which, if taken, would have saved many lives.

Rafael Medoff is founding director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and coeditor of the institute’s online Encyclopedia of America’s Response to the Holocaust.

Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a Jerusalem-based psychologist, Middle East television commentator, and host of the Van Leer Jerusalem Series on Ideas with Renee Garfinkel

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Aug 31 2020

1hr

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Adam Teller, "Rescue the Surviving Souls: The Great Jewish Refugee Crisis of the 17th Century" (Princeton UP, 2020)

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A refugee crisis of huge proportions erupted as a result of the mid-seventeenth-century wars in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Tens of thousands of Jews fled their homes, or were captured and trafficked across Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Rescue the Surviving Souls is the first book to examine this horrific moment of displacement and flight, and to assess its social, economic, religious, cultural, and psychological consequences. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources in twelve languages, Adam Teller traces the entire course of the crisis, shedding fresh light on the refugee experience and the various relief strategies developed by the major Jewish centers of the day.

Teller pays particular attention to those thousands of Jews sent for sale on the slave markets of Istanbul and the extensive transregional Jewish economic network that coalesced to ransom them. He also explores how Jewish communities rallied to support the refugees in central and western Europe, as well as in Poland-Lithuania, doing everything possible to help them overcome their traumatic experiences and rebuild their lives.

Rescue the Surviving Souls: The Great Jewish Refugee Crisis of the 17th Century (Princeton University Press, 2020) offers an intimate study of an international refugee crisis, from outbreak to resolution, that is profoundly relevant today.

Adam Teller is a Professor of Judaic Studies and History at Princeton University. He is the author of Money, Power, and Influence in Eighteenth-Century Lithuania: The Jews on the Radziwiłł Estates.

Robin Buller is a Doctoral Candidate in History at UNC Chapel Hill and a 2020-2021 dissertation fellow with the Association for Jewish Studies.

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Aug 25 2020

1hr 15mins

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iTunes Ratings

29 Ratings
Average Ratings
20
5
0
1
3

Thoughtful interviews

By EFdove61 - Mar 02 2018
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Thoughtful interviews and enjoyable to listen to

Excellent

By Tmpadawan - Oct 27 2017
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Great venue for current Jewish thought