Eleazar ben Kalir was one of Judaism's earliest and most prolific of the paytanim, liturgical poets. Many of his hymns have found their way into festive prayers of the Ashkenazi Jews synagogal rite. In the acrostics of his hymns he usually signs his father's name, Kalir. Eleazar's name, home, and time have been the subject of many discussions in modern Jewish literature, and some legends concerning his career have been handed down. It is now assumed that he had lived in Kirjath-sepher in the Land of Israel (Rosh to Brochos Siman 21). His time has been set at different dates, from as early as the 6th century (basing the view on Saadiah's Sefer ha-galuy), to the end of the 10th century of the common era. Older authorities consider him to have been a teacher of the Mishnah and identify him either with Eleazar b. 'Arak or with Eleazar b. Simeon (See Ma'adanei Yom Tov to Brochos, ch. 5, gloss 5 where he discusses whether he was the son of Rashbi or another Rabbi Shimon). He has been confounded with another poet by the name of Eleazar b. Jacob, and a book by the title of "Kebod Adonai" was ascribed to him by Botarel.
The State of Israel stands at the center of how Jews see themselves today as individuals as well as the Jewish people's collective self-perception. As a result, understanding Judaism and the Jewish people is possible only by grasping the Jewish hopes, dreams and experiences that center around Israel, the promised land. This special book guides Christians through the essential meanings of Israel for the Jewish people and for the world. It defines Israel is an indispensable part of Judaism's vision for the Jewish people to be ?a kingdom of priests and a holy people, ? as a partner with God in the Bible's sacred covenant. It examines Israel, a sovereign Jewish state, as a safe refuge and home for Jews fleeing persecution anywhere in the world, and how this gives meaning to the Jewish people's convictions that the future can be more secure than the past.
This introductory textbook on the history of Judaism, written by one of the foremost scholars in the field, is ideal for college freshmen and high school seniors. The book includes chapters on the Pentateuch and the definition of Israel, the Torah and the Mishnah and Judaism's way of life, the Talmud and Judaism's worldview, and the definition and nature of God in Judaism. The book concludes with a discussion of why Judaism has succeeded through centuries of competition with Christianity and Islam, and a chapter on exemplary figures in the emergence of Judaism. The book also includes a bibliography, glossary of terms, and many important primary documents, including the Mishnah, the Tosefta, the Talmud of the Land of Israel, the Talmud of Babylonia, Genesis and Genesis Rabbah, the Fathers (Abot) and the Fathers according to Rabbi Nathan.
This engaging argument for the future of Jewish theology, written by a renowned Jewish scholar, provides a masterly examination of the faith, its history, and its place in the modern world. Exploring both its historical evolution and Judaism's relationship with Israel and the wider world today, this fascinating book traces foundational Jewish structures and concepts through the discussion and interpretation of Jewish texts, rituals and prayers. It outlines the history of Jewish theology, considering the notion of monotheism and its manifestation in the Jewish faith; the ethics of the Jewish character; and considers thematic elements of Judaism, including the centrality attached to sacred locations including Jerusalem. In debating Judaism's future as a religion, Kepnes strikes a positive note. He argues that we must acknowledge holiness as a ritual and ethical reality in order to heal the rift between different forms of Jewish practice and theology. In doing so, he speaks to both Jews and non-Jews, and demonstrates through textual readings how Jews, Christians, and Muslims can understand and share their theological riches.
'The Jewish community is hysterical about Jews marrying non-Jews. With the exception of Israel, no other issue captures as much attention, discussion, and debate in Jewish life. Organizations are scrambling to solve this 'crisis' but they are doomed to fail because there is no intermarriage crisis in the United States today. But we do have a problem: we have not yet formulated a set of beliefs, behaviors, and institutional structures that define what it means to be a Jew in a pluralistic society. Our challenge is to envision a community within the context of an America where ethnic and religious walls are permeable. Judaism must become attractive both to those who are born Jews, or they will choose to leave, and to those who were not born Jews, so that they will choose to join.'&#8212; Gary Tobin In Opening the Gates, Gary Tobin challenges his fellow American Jews to avoid the process of entropy that could take a devastating toll in the Jewish community. 'This should be our primary task,' Tobin passionately argues. Tobin confronts his community with the eye-opening reality that 'in order to rebuild and revitalize Judaism in this country we must rethink our religion as something both born Jews and converts must actively choose and stop blaming intermarriage for Judaism's decline.' He implores the Jewish community to shift its focus from preventing intermarriage to embracing an open, positive, accessible, and joyful process of encouraging non-Jews to become Jews. As Tobin bluntly puts it, 'We must abandon the paradigm that our children and grandchildren may become Gentiles and promote the thought that America is filled with millions of potential Jews.' Opening the Gates examinesthe role conversion should play in the Jewish future. It looks at the way the Jewish community currently handles issues of intermarriage and conversion and recommends strategies to incorporate conversion into a larger vision of building the next Jewish civilization. Tobin su
A Kingdom of Priests Ancestry and Merit in Ancient Judaism Martha Himmelfarb According to the account in the Book of Exodus, God addresses the children of Israel as they stand before Mt. Sinai with the words, 'You shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation' (19:6). The sentence, Martha Himmelfarb observes, is paradoxical, for priests are by definition a minority, yet the meaning in context is clear: the entire people is holy. The words also point to some significant tensions in the biblical understanding of the people of Israel. If the entire people is holy, why does it need priests? If membership in both people and priesthood is a matter not of merit but of birth, how can either the people or its priests hope to be holy? How can one reconcile the distance between the honor due the priest and the actual behavior of some who filled the role? What can the people do to make itself truly a kingdom of priests? Himmelfarb argues that these questions become central in Second Temple Judaism. She considers a range of texts from this period, including the Book of Watchers, the Book of Jubilees, legal documents from the Dead Sea Scrolls, the writings of Philo of Alexandria, and the Book of Revelation of the New Testament, and goes on to explore rabbinic Judaism's emphasis on descent as the primary criterion for inclusion among the chosen people of Israel--a position, she contends, that took on new force in reaction to early Christian disparagement of the idea that mere descent from Abraham was sufficient for salvation. Martha Himmelfarb is Professor of Religion at Princeton University. She is the author of Ascent to Heaven in Jewish and Christian Apocalypses and Tours of Hell: An Apocalyptic Form in Jewish and Christian Literature, the latter also published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. Jewish Culture and Contexts 2006 280 pages 6 x 9 ISBN 978-0-8122-3950-8 Cloth $65.00s £42.50 ISBN 978-0-8122-0227-4 Ebook $65.00s £42.50 World Rights Religion, History Short copy: Considers a range of texts--including the Book of Watchers, Book of Jubilees, legal documents from the Dead Sea scrolls, writings of Philo of Alexandria, and the Book of Revelation--to explore the tensions inherent in Second Temple Judaism's emphasis on ancestry as the primary criterion for inclusion among the chosen people of Israel.
When thinking of the ancient Temple of Jerusalem, one often conjures up images of animal sacrifice, pilgrimages to the Holy City on religious festivals, and the High Priest solemnly entering the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. Indeed, each of these observances was a staple of Temple ritual, but it is easy to lose sight of the Temple as it impacted, and impacts, upon the daily life of Jews and their physical and spiritual responsibilities. Building the Temple is not merely one commandment of many; it cannot be examined in isolation. This volume shows how the Temple relates to the notions of Shabbat, the land of Israel, monarchy, Jewish independence and sovereignty, education, justice, covenant, Sinai, the garden of Eden, the Jewish relationship to the gentile world, and the very way the Jew relates to God. From a biblical viewpoint, the Temple is not only the central institution of the ideal Jewish society but also the central concept that binds and organizes all others. The minutiae of the Temple as portrayed in the liturgy and in the Bible often seem tedious and overritualistic. Classical sources of all genres abound to explain a particular passage or a particular rite. This book identifies broad themes that animate the meaning of the Temple, its rites, and the biblical passages that describe it. Details are probed as a larger conceptual whole. Animal sacrifice, particularly problematic to many on moral grounds, is examined in a new and revealing light. Many Torah commandments stand unchanged for all time regardless of historical events. Not so the commandment to erect the Temple. Social, economic, political, and religious currents were integral to the Temple's construction, destruction, and reconstruction. By probing these currents from the Bible's perspective, one can gain insight into the meaning of the times in which we live; we are in a process of rebuilding, even though we are far from redemption. ''Joshua Berman has performed a fine service to the Jewish imagination by this sustained meditation on one of Judaism's central symbols. No one will read this book without feeling that his understanding of Jewish spirituality has been enriched. It is a fascinating and thought-provoking analysis of a much neglected topic.'' --Chief Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sacks Joshua Berman is director of admissions and a lecturer in Bible at Nishmat--The Jerusalem Center for Advanced Jewish Study for Women. He holds a bachelor's degree in religion from Princeton University and received his ordination from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate following extended study at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shevut, Israel. His articles on biblical theology and on contemporary issues in Jewish life have appeared in the pages of Amit Woman, The Jerusalem Post, Judaism, L'Eylah, Megadim, Midstream, and Tradition. He has lectured widely on these topics in Israel, the United States, and Great Britain. Rabbi Berman, his wife, Michal, and their son now reside in Beit Shemesh, Israel.
'Enthralling, searching, profound, an extraordinarily powerful work on Jewish identity in the twenty-first century.'-Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks A bold proposal for discovering relevance in Judaism and ensuring its survival, from a pioneering social activist, business leader, and fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force God Is in the Crowd is an original and provocative blueprint for Judaism in the twenty-first century. Presented through the lens of Tal Keinan's unusual personal story, it a sobering analysis of the threat to Jewish continuity. As the Jewish people has become concentrated in just two hubs-America and Israel-it has lost the subtle code of governance that endowed Judaism with dynamism and relevance in the age of Diaspora. This code, as Keinan explains, is derived from Francis Galton's 'wisdom of crowds,' in which a group's collective intelligence, memory, and even spirituality can be dramatically different from, and often stronger than, that of any individual member's. He argues that without this code, this ancient people-and the civilization that it spawned-will soon be extinct. Finally, Keinan puts forward a bold and original plan to rewrite the Jewish code, proposing a new model for Judaism and for community in general. Keinan was born to a secular Jewish family in Florida. His interest in Judaism was ignited by a Christian minister at his New England prep school and led him down the unlikely path to enlistment in the Israel Air Force. Using his own dramatic experiences as a backdrop, and applying lessons from his life as a business leader and social activist, Keinan takes the reader on a riveting adventure, weaving between past, present, and future, and fusing narrative with theory to demonstrate Judaism's value to humanity and chart its path into the future. Advance praise for God Is in the Crowd 'Beautifully written, brilliantly argued, this is a unique contribution to the conversation and a must read for anyone concerned with Tribal continuity.'-Yossi Klein Halevi, author of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor 'God Is in the Crowd blends social science, economics, religion, and national identity to help us see more clearly who we are as individuals, people, and a society.'-Dan Ariely, author of The Upside of Irrationality 'American, Israeli, entrepreneur, fighter pilot, and investor: Keinan's diagnosis of Israel and the Jewish Diaspora is provided through the lens of a rich and gripping life story. Keinan's contribution is indispensable to the debate about the future of the Jewish people.'-Dan Senor, co-author of Start-up Nation
More than half of the people in the Western world lead secular lives. Many see themselves as non-religious. And many of these non-religious people see themselves as spiritual. Can you be spiritual without being religious? Can you be rational and spiritual at the same time? Is there an ethical dimension to spirituality? Do beauty and the arts fit into the spiritual experience? Are science and spirituality in conflict? Can we learn from the mysticism of the past? Do Zionism and Israel have a spiritual dimension? Is spiritual the best word we can find for the experience? Can a secular spirituality enrich my life? The International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism's Colloquium '01 explored the relevance of secular spirituality, its roots, progression over time, and expression in the arts, literature, and science. This volume offers the collected proceedings of this colloquium. Included are presentations by noted author Andre Aciman; Rabbi Sherwin Wine, founder of Humanistic Judaism; Yaakov Malkin, founder of the first Jewish community center in Israel, and other scholars.