Abraham Joshua Heschel was one of the most revered religious leaders of the 20th century, and God in Search of Man and its companion volume, Man Is Not Alone, two of his most important books, are classics of modern Jewish theology. God in Search of Man combines scholarship with lucidity, reverence, and compassion as Dr. Heschel discusses not man's search for God but God's for man--the notion of a Chosen People, an idea which, he writes, "signifies not a quality inherent in the people but a relationship between the people and God." It is an extraordinary description of the nature of Biblical thought, and how that thought becomes faith.
Jews have been a religious and cultural presence in America since the colonial era, and the community of Jews in the United States today—some six million people—continues to make a significant contribution to the American religious landscape. Emphasizing developments in American Judaism in the last quarter century among active participants in Jewish worship, this book provides both a look back into the 350-year history of Judaic life and a well-crafted portrait of a multifaceted tradition today. Combining extensive research into synagogue archival records and secondary sources as well as interviews and observations of worship services at more than a hundred Jewish congregations across the country, Raphael's study distinguishes itself as both a history of the Judaic tradition and a witness to the vitality and variety of contemporary American Judaic life. Beginning with a chapter on beliefs, festivals, and life-cycle events, both traditional and non-traditional, and an explanation of the enormous variation in practice, Raphael then explores Jewish history in America, from the arrival of the first Jews to the present, highlighting the emergence and development of the four branches: Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform. After documenting the considerable variety among the branches, the book addresses issues of some controversy, notably spirituality, conversion, homosexuality, Jewish education, synagogue architecture, and the relationship to Israel. Raphael turns next to a discussion of eight American Jews whose thoughts and/or activities made a huge impact on American Judaism. The final chapter focuses on the return to tradition in every branch of Judaism and examines prospects for the future.
Most studies of Abraham Joshua Heschel approach him as a theologian, whereas this book peers behind the theologian and honors Heschel as the original philosopher that he was. So it unearths Heschel's epistemology, his aesthetic, and his social philosophy, all reinforced by the thirty years of friendship and dialogue that Maurice Friedman shared with him. This book raises significantly critical questions concerning Heschel's philosophy of Judaism while remaining greatly appreciative of the sweep and command of his philosophy that Friedman believes were not sufficiently worked through.
The widespread assumption that Jewish religious tradition is mediated through words, not pictures, has left Jewish art with no significant role to play in Jewish theology and ethics. Judaism and the Visual Image argues for a Jewish theology of image that, among other things, helps us re-read the creation story in Genesis 1 and to question why images of Jewish women as religious subjects appear to be doubly suppressed by the Second Commandment, when images of observant male Jews have become legitimate, even iconic, representations of Jewish holiness. Raphael further suggests that 'devout beholding' of images of the Holocaust is a corrective to post-Holocaust theologies of divine absence from suffering that are infused by a sub-theological aesthetic of the sublime. Raphael concludes by proposing that the relationship between God and Israel composes itself into a unitary dance or moving image by which each generation participates in a processive revelation that is itself the ultimate work of Jewish art.
Man Is Not Alone is a profound, beautifully written examination of the ingredients of piety: how man senses God's presence, explores it, accepts it, and builds life upon it. Abraham Joshua Heschel's philosophy of religion is not a philosophy of doctrine or the interpretation of a dogma. He erects his carefully built structure of thought upon foundations which are universally valid but almost generally ignored. It was Man Is Not Alone which led Reinhold Niebuhr accurately to predict that Heschel would "become a commanding and authoritative voice not only in the Jewish community but in the religious life of America." With its companion volume, God in Search of Man, it is revered as a classic of modern theology.
Bringing together contributions from established scholars as well as promising younger academics, the seventeenth volume of this established series offers a broad-ranging view of why Judaism, a religion whose observance is more honored in the breach in most western Jewish communities, has garnered attention, authority, and controversy in the late twentieth century. The volume considers the ways in which theological writings, sweeping social change, individual or small-group needs, and intra-communal diversity have re-energized Judaism even amidst secular trends in America and Israel.
In this fascinating, accessible and thorough study, renowned priest and academic Brendan Purcell combines the latest discoveries in paleoanthropology, genetics, neuroscience, and other sciences with the insights of philosophers and theologians to address the question of the Big Bang of Human Consciousness. Purcell shows the complementarity these disciplines can bring to an understanding of the mystery of human existence.
The Public Intellectual and the Culture of Hope brings together a number of winners of the Polanyi Prize in Literature – a group whose research constitutes a diversity of methodological approaches to the study of culture – to examine the rich but often troubled association between the concepts of the public, the intellectual (both the person and the condition), culture, and hope. The contributors probe the influence of intellectual life on the public sphere by reflecting on, analyzing, and re-imagining social and cultural identity. The Public Intellectual and the Culture of Hope reflects on the challenging and often vexed work of intellectualism within the public sphere by exploring how cultural materials – from foundational Enlightenment writings to contemporary, populist media spectacles – frame intellectual debates within the clear and ever-present gaze of the public writ large. These serve to illuminate how past cultures can shed light on present and future issues, as well as how current debates can reframe our approaches to older subjects.
"As a rabbi and a convert, I appreciate this book deeply for its sensitivity to the complex feelings of those who are exploring paths to becoming Jewish, and for the deep love of Judaism it conveys. I will give it to every interfaith couple, and recommend that they give it to their parents. It is wonderful! " --Rachel Cowan, co-author of Mixed Blessings In the same knowledgeable, reassuring, and respectful style that has made her one of the most admired writers of guides to Jewish practices and rituals, Anita Diamant provides advice and information that can transform the act of conversion into an extraordinary journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth. Married to a convert herself, Diamant anticipates all the questions, doubts, and concerns, provides a comprehensive explanation of the rules and rituals of conversion, and offers practical guidance toward creating a Jewish identity. Here you will learn how to choose a rabbi, a synagogue, a denomination, a Hebrew name; how to handle the difficulty of putting aside Christmas; what happens at the mikvah (the ritual bath) or at a hatafat dam brit (circumcision ritual for those already circumcised); how to find your footing in a new spiritual family that is not always well prepared to receive you; and how not to lose your bonds to your family of origin. Sensitive, sympathetic, and insightful, Choosing a Jewish Life provides everything necessary to make conversion a joyful and spiritually meaningful experience. From the Hardcover edition.