Throughout Jewish history, revolutionary events and subversive ideas have burst forth, repeatedly transforming Jewish experience. Re-forming Judaism seeks to explore these ideas---and the individuals behind them---by delving into historical disruptions that led to lasting change in Jewish thought. A distinguished array of scholars take us on a journey from the disruptive prophets of ancient times, through rational, mystical, and extremist medievalists, to the impact of Haskalah and early Reform thought in modernity. Contemporary innovations such as changes in liturgy and music, feminism, and post-Holocaust theology are included, as are insights into Sephardic and North African experiences. By showing how Judaism forms---then re-forms, and re-forms again---the contributors demonstrate that tensions between continuity and change have always been part of Jewish life, helping us to both understand the past and contemplate the future.
The excellent chapters in this exciting and provocative book provide an illuminating journey through the grand sweep of Jewish history, seen through the lens of crises that generated radical transformations. The volume is perfect for all who seek to explore the resilience that undergirds Jewish survival and to benefit from first-rate scholarship and engaging style.
-- Rabbi Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, PhD, Effie Wise Ochs Professor of Biblical Literature and History, Hebrew Union College--Jewish Institute of Religion
An accessible introduction to the long history of disruption in Jewish life from antiquity to the present. To paraphrase a famous slogan, "You don't need to be Reform to enjoy Re-Forming Judaism." You just need to be curious as to how change happens.
-- Jonathan D. Sarna, PhD, University Professor and Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University
There is a piece of every Jew that relishes thinking of oneself as standing at Sinai and being part of a people and tradition that extends from then to now. The Jewish tradition, though, is ours now only because it had the wisdom to change over the centuries. This book graphically demonstrates how tradition and change together have kept Judaism instructive and relevant over time so that Jews now can enjoy and benefit from both its continuity and its ever-refreshing and challenging nature.
-- Rabbi Elliot Dorff, PhD, Rector and Sol & Anne Dorff Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy, American Jewish University