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Distributed for Brandeis University Press

American Jewish Thought Since 1934

Writings on Identity, Engagement, and Belief

Distributed for Brandeis University Press

American Jewish Thought Since 1934

Writings on Identity, Engagement, and Belief

What is the role of Judaism and Jewish existence in America? And what role does America play in matters Jewish? This anthology considers these questions and offers a look at how the diverse body of Jewish thought developed within the historical and intellectual context of America.

In this volume, editors Michael Marmur and David Ellenson bring together the distinctive voices of those who have shaped the bold and shifting soundscape of American Jewish thought over the last few generations. The contributors tackle an array of topics including theological questions; loyalty and belonging; the significance of halakhic, spiritual, and ritual practice; secularization and its discontents; and the creative recasting of Jewish peoplehood. The editors are careful to point out how a plurality of approaches emerged in response to the fundamental ruptures and challenges of continuity posed by the Holocaust, the establishment of the state of Israel, and the civil rights movement in the twentieth century.

This volume also includes a wide swath of the most distinctive currents and movements over the last eighty years: post-Holocaust theology, secular forms of Jewish spirituality, ultra-orthodoxy, American neo-orthodoxy, neo-Hasidism, feminism and queer theory, diasporist critiques of Zionism, and Zionist militancy. This collection will serve as both a testament to the creativity of American Jewish thought so far, and as an inspiration for the new thinkers of its still unwritten future.

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"Marmur and Ellenson see a canon of American Jewish thought as already too entrenched and, like the canon of European Jewish thought, magnifying the influence of a small number of people. The editors thus bring in more of the intellectual progeny of thinkers who continue to cast a long shadow (in particular Heschel, Kaplan, and Soloveitchik) and many others debating the existential questions of American Jewish existence. ...[they] contribute to the process of expanding the “open canon” to make room for texts more reflective of the diversity of contemporary Jewish experience"

American Jewish History

"Marmur and Ellenson’s excellent volume does not provide definitive answers for 21st-century American Judaism, but here are some of the voices we need to help fill those silences, some of the fragments out of which a new Judaism may be built."

Jewish Review of Books

"This book would serve as an outstanding read for adult education classes or as an introductory text to American Jewish thought."

Jewish Herald-Voice

"This collection will serve as both a testament to the creativity of American Jewish thought so far, and as an inspiration for the new thinkers of its still unwritten future."

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

"This display of erudition and all-round excellent portrayal of Jewish thought will provide much material for further examination and reflection for Jewish communities and by non-Jewish groups for a better understanding of American Judaism....Well recommended for a full appreciation of modern Jewish thought."

American Jewish Library Newsletter

"Many selections from the 1950s to the 1970s will bring back memories to readers whose educations were shaped through interactions with these works and authors. Such scholars will be pleased to offer this collection to younger readers as a useful introduction to gems from texts that "everyone should know." . . . This is a solid resource for today's readers."


“An exciting kaleidoscopic book about the Jewish experience in America—beginning with the optimism, rationalism, and naturalism of Reconstructionism, and ending today with the conflicted debates about Israel, the Holocaust, gender, and the possibility of creating a vital American Jewish identity for tomorrow.”

Warren Zev Harvey, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

“Marvelous for teaching, for learning. A wealth of modern Jewish thought to enrich the reader and evoke new reflections and directions.”

Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple

“Preeminent scholars Ellenson and Marmur have both defined and expanded the canon with diverse voices exploring the biggest ideas in American Jewish thought. An essential addition to every Jewish library.”

Rabbi Angela W. Buchdahl, Central Synagogue

Table of Contents


1. Mordecai M. Kaplan, The Future of the American Jew
2. Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man Is Not Alone
3. Hans Jonas, “The Concept of God After Auschwitz: A Jewish Voice”
4. Richard L. Rubenstein, After Auschwitz
5. Eliezer Berkovits, Faith After the Holocaust
6. Erich Fromm, You Shall Be As Gods
7. Marcia Falk, “Notes On Composing New Blessings: Toward a Feminist-Jewish Reconstruction of Prayer”
8. Edward L. Greenstein, “’To You Do I Call’: A Critique of Impersonal Prayer”
9. Sandra B. Lubarsky, “Reconstructing Divine Power”
10. Rebecca Alpert, “Location, Location, Location: Toward a Theology of Prepositions”

11. Marvin Fox, The Condition of Jewish Belief
12. Aharon Lichtenstein, The Condition of Jewish Belief
13. Will Herberg, Judaism and Modern Man
14. Jakob J. Petuchowski, “Revelation and the Modern Jew”
15. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man
16. Benjamin H. Sommer, Revelation and Authority
17. Tamar Ross, Expanding the Palace of Torah
18. Eugene B. Borowitz, Renewing the Covenant
19. Susan Handelman, “ ‘Crossing and Recrossing the Void’ ”
20. David Novak, “Is the Covenant a Bilateral Relationship?”
21. Rachel Adler, Engendering Judaism
22. Mara H. Benjamin, The Obligated Self

23. Arnold Jacob Wolf, “Against Spirituality”
24. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man
25. Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
26. Arthur Green, Jewish Spirituality / Seek My Face, Speak My Name
27. Daniel C. Matt, God and the Big Bang
28. Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Paradigm Shift
29. Marcia Prager, The Path of Blessing
30. Nancy Flam, “Healing the Spirit”
31. Arthur Waskow, Down-to-Earth Judaism
32. Sheila Weinberg, “Images of God: Closeness and Power”

33. Michael Fishbane, Sacred Attunement
34. Steven Kepnes, The Future of Jewish Theology
35. Jose Faur, Golden Doves With Silver Dots
36. David Hartman, A Heart of Many Rooms
37. Leo Strauss, “Jerusalem and Athens”
38. Hannah Arendt, “The Jew as Pariah”
39. Michael Walzer, Exodus and Revolution
40. Mitchell Cohen, “In Defense of Shaatnez”
41. Jill Jacobs, There Shall Be No Needy
42. Meir Kahane, “Down With Chanukah!”

43. Jacob Neusner, Stranger At Home
44. Joel Teitelbaum, Vayoel Moshe
45. Emil L. Fackenheim, The Jewish Return Into History and Other Writings
46. Eliezer Berkovits, Faith After the Holocaust
47. David R. Blumenthal, Facing the Abusing God
48. Irving Greenberg, “The Ethics of Jewish Power Today”
49. Marc H. Ellis, Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation
50. Judith Butler, Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism
51. Ruth R. Wisse, Jews and Power
52. Daniel Gordis, We Stand Divided
53. Daniel Boyarin & Jonathan Boyarin, “Diaspora”
54. Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism
55. The Editors of Commentary, “The Existential Necessity of Zionism After Paris”

56. Susannah Heschel, On Being a Jewish Feminist
57. Cynthia Ozick, “Notes Toward Finding the Right Question”
58. Judith Plaskow, “The Right Question is Theological”
59. Blu Greenberg, On Women and Judaism
60. Rachel Adler, “I’ve Had Nothing Yet So I Can’t Take More”
61. Julia Watts Belser, “Making Room for the Divine She”/ “Privilege and Disaster”
62. Steve Greenberg, Wrestling With God and Men
63. Jay Michaelson, "Toward a Queer Jewish Theology"
64. Benay Lappe, “The New Rabbis”
65. Jane Rachel Litman, “Born To Be Wild”
66. Joy Ladin, The Soul of the Stranger

67. Mordecai M. Kaplan, The Future of the American Jew
68. Simon Rawidowicz, “The Ever-Dying People”
69. George Steiner, “Our Homeland, The Text”
70. Arthur A. Cohen, "Why I Choose to Be a Jew"
71. Michael Wyschogrod, The Body of Faith
72. Judith Plaskow, Standing Again at Sinai
73. Shaul Magid, American Post-Judaism
74. Steven M. Cohen & Jack Wertheimer, “What Is So Great About Post-Ethnic Judaism” / “Whatever Happened to the Jewish People”
75. Arthur Hertzberg, from Rebuilding Jewish Peoplehood
76. Paula Hyman, from Rebuilding Jewish Peoplehood
77. Dianne Cohler-Esses, “A Common Language Between East and West”
78. Lewis Gordon, In Every Tongue
79. Noam Pianko, Jewish Peoplehood: An American Innovation


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