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Preview: Modern Judaism - current issue

Modern Judaism - A Journal of Jewish Ideas and Experience Current Issue

Published: Fri, 12 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2018 14:56:47 GMT


Books Received

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Carey, Maddy, Jewish Masculinity in the Holocaust: Between Destruction and Construction. Bloomsbury Academic (New York, 2017).


Fri, 12 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Corrigendum for “Negroes Must Not Be Likened to Jews”: The Attitudes of Eastern European Jewish Immigrants toward African Americans in a Transnational Perspective.


Fri, 12 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

INGRID L. ANDERSON is the Associate Director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies and a full time lecturer in the college of arts and sciences at Boston University. Her most recent book is Ethics and Suffering Since the Holocaust: Making Ethics “First Philosophy” in Levinas, Wiesel, and Rubenstein (2016). Current research includes the impact of French existentialism on post-modern and contemporary Jewish thought, and representations of Anglo-Jewry, Anglo-Zionism, and Anti-Zionism in the work of George Eliot, Julia Frankau, and Amy Levy.

“For the Public’s Improvement and for the Benefit of the Town:” Correspondence Between Rabbi Kook and Residents of the Moshavot in Eretz Israel on Ecological and Environmental Matters

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hacohen Kook (the Ra'aya) was one of the most prominent and creative Torah and spiritual leaders in recent generations.11 His philosophy and knowledge extended to many literary genres: bible, midrash (homiletic interpretation), kabbalah, theology, and more. R. Kook was known for his command of all Torah fields, love of mankind, the Jewish people, and the Land of Israel, and had unique eloquent skills. His philosophical and theoretical doctrine includes various issues that occupy modern man, such as evolution, science and religion, the relationship between the sacred and the mundane, society, and tikun olam (repairing the world).22

Moses Hess as a Prophet of Spiritual Zionism: The Origins of Messianic Jewish Humanism

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMT

In the first half of the twentieth century, Moses Hess’s humanistic-socialist messianism was a source of inspiration for a series of Jewish thinkers and leaders, of whom Martin Buber is perhaps the most outstanding. Others, however, especially among the leaders of the Israeli labor movement, who did not delve as deeply into Hess’s thought as Buber had, also identified with his vision. Echoes of his formulation can be heard in the worldview of the founder of the State of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, and in his notion of Israel as a Paragon State. Ben-Gurion wrote on September 6th, 1954:The creator of the Zionist organization was not involved in the nation’s tradition or the literature of his nation, but with the deep intuition of a historical visionary, Herzl understood that the State of the Jews to be established would be obliged to serve as paragon state. And just as Herzl did not create the idea of a Jewish State, he also did not create the idea of a paragon state. He was preceded in the 19th century by Moshe Hess, who was among the first German socialists. But even Hess was not the first. Three hundred years ago, this idea was expressed by the greatest of Jewish philosophers … . In his book on Biblical criticism and political theory, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, Spinoza expressed with absolute confidence that the Jewish nation would establish again its state, and God would choose it anew. The meaning of Spinoza is clear: with the renewal of its national independence, the Jewish nation would again become a chosen nation, a guide for the world.11Spinoza explains in the third chapter of Tractatus Theologico-Politicus that the idea of Election in the Bible refers not to some innate ethical superiority but to the external economic and security achievements of the present or future Jewish State, what he calls “their polity and material interests.”22 There is no doubt that Ben-Gurion identified with Spinoza’s piercing criticism of Election as some innate Jewish national superiority of understanding and true virtue. But Ben-Gurion’s claim that Spinoza augured the establishment of a paragon state in Tractatus Theologico-Politicus does not appear in the text, and if so, only obliquely.


Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMT

MartyÉric, Radical French Thought and the Return of the “Jewish Question.” Translated by AstroAlan. Indiana University Press. Bloomington, 2015. 126 pp. Index.

Fortune Magazine Fights Antisemitism

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMT

The sense that Jews have constituted an alien element in the body politic, and that they have exerted an unwarranted influence in economic affairs and in the professions, has constituted a lurking fear that has haunted the antisemitic imagination. In modern history, no form of judeophobia has played a more influential role than the belief that a clever and conspiratorial minority manages to exercise inordinate power in the economy, in government and in the media. In a secular epoch this myth has been even more durable than deicide. In the U.S., for example, Henry Ford, the nation’s most renowned interwar industrialist, disseminated excerpts from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent. The Protocols were amplified in the guise of a compendium that Ford entitled The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem (1920). When the rulers of the most powerful state in the heart of Europe adopted and promoted the essential features of this myth, a modest sign of blowback emerged from an unlikely source—a monthly American magazine aimed at a business readership.

Buber, the Bible, and Hebrew Humanism: Finding a Usable Past

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMT

In his recent book on American Judaism, Shaul Magid touches briefly on the phenomenon of ba’alei teshuva in the 1960s and 1970s as an example of the appeal of Hasidic teachings as a counter-cultural force. Baal teshuva, literally someone who returns or repents, is a term used to describe non-observant Jews who choose to take on a more traditional lifestyle. Central to the appeal of Hasidism in this era were not ultra-Orthodox Hasidim themselves but rather the worldview of Hasidism as it appeared in the writings of Martin Buber and Abraham Joshua Heschel. As Magid comments, Buber and Heschel “served as bridge figures between…. young, Jewishly illiterate but highly intelligent men and women and the ‘spirituality’ of ‘authentic’ Judaism.”11 The Judaism offered to Western Jews by Buber and Heschel was both foreign and familiar: in their most popular works, they combined the Hasidic texts and teachings of Eastern European Jewry with attention to the spiritual problems of the modern world. Buber, in particular, claimed that Hasidism represented one expression of an eternal essence of Judaism that was all too often absent from mainstream expressions of Jewish religion. In the Hasidic tales he published in German in the early twentieth century, and in his presentations of Hasidism in various essays and books over the rest of his life, he sought to distill that essence and then to re-present it in terms that would engage his modern audience. In 1957, he described the spiritual insights he found in Hasidism: “the kernel of this life is capable of working on men even today, when most of the powers of the Hasidic community itself have been given over to decay or destruction, and it is just on the present-day West that it is capable of working in an especial manner.… From here comes an answer to the crisis of Western man that has become fully manifest in our age.”22