In response to concerns related to COVID-19, the Association for Jewish Studies has decided to transition the 2020 AJS conference to a virtual format. In lieu of our booth exhibit, please enjoy this Virtual Book Exhibit and receive a 30% discount and free shipping on the books listed below using the discount code S20XAJS-FM.
Hasidism is an influential spiritual revival movement within Judaism that began in the eighteenth century and continues to thrive today. One of the great classics of early Hasidism, The Light of the Eyes is a collection of homilies on the Torah, reading the entire Five Books of Moses as a guide to spiritual awareness and cultivation of the inner life. This is the first English translation of any major work from Hasidism's earliest and most creative period. Arthur Green's introduction and annotations survey the history of Hasidism and outline the essential religious and moral teachings of this mystical movement. The Light of the Eyes, by Rabbi Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl, offers insights that remain as fresh and relevant for the contemporary reader as they were when first published in 1798.
In a book that will touch hearts and minds, acclaimed cultural historian Marilyn Yalom presents firsthand accounts of six witnesses to war, each offering lasting memories of how childhood trauma transforms lives. The violence of war leaves indelible marks, and memories last a lifetime for those who experienced this trauma as children. Marilyn Yalom experienced World War II from afar, safely protected in her home in Washington, DC. But over the course of her life, she came to be close friends with many less lucky, who grew up under bombardment across Europe—in France, Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, England, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Holland. With Innocent Witnesses, Yalom collects the stories from these accomplished luminaries and brings us voices of a vanishing generation, the last to remember World War II. Memory is notoriously fickle: it forgets most of the past, holds on to bits and pieces, and colors the truth according to unconscious wishes. But in the circle of safety Marilyn Yalom created for her friends, childhood memories return in all their startling vividness. This powerful collage of testimonies offers us a greater understanding of what it is to be human, not just then but also today. With this book, her final and most personal work of cultural history, Yalom considers the lasting impact of such young experiences—and asks whether we will now force a new generation of children to spend their lives reconciling with such memories.
Wild Visionary reconsiders Maurice Sendak's life and work in the context of his experience as a Jewish gay man. Maurice (Moishe) Bernard Sendak (1928–2012) was a fierce, romantic, and shockingly funny truth seeker who intervened in modern literature and culture. Raising the stakes of children's books, Sendak painted childhood with the dark realism and wild imagination of his own sensitive "inner child," drawing on the queer and Yiddish sensibilities that shaped his singular voice. Interweaving literary biography and cultural history, Golan Y. Moskowitz follows Sendak from his parents' Brooklyn home to spaces of creative growth and artistic vision—from neighborhood movie palaces to Hell's Kitchen, Greenwich Village, Fire Island, and the Connecticut country home he shared with Eugene Glynn, his partner of more than fifty years. Further, he analyzes Sendak's investment in the figure of the endangered child in symbolic relation to collective touchstones that impacted the artist's perspective—the Great Depression, the Holocaust, and the AIDS crisis. Through a deep exploration of Sendak's picture books, interviews, and previously unstudied personal correspondence, Wild Visionary offers a sensitive portrait of the most beloved and enchanting picture-book artist of our time.
Among the Jewish writers who emigrated from Eastern Europe to France in the 1910s and 1920s, a number chose to switch from writing in their languages of origin to writing primarily in French, a language that represented both a literary center and the promises of French universalism. But under the Nazi occupation of France from 1940 to 1944, these Jewish émigré writers—among them Irène Némirovsky, Benjamin Fondane, Romain Gary, Jean Malaquais, and Elsa Triolet—continued to write in their adopted language, even as the Vichy regime and Nazi occupiers denied their French identity through xenophobic and antisemitic laws. In this book, Julia Elsky argues that these writers reexamined both their Jewishness and their place as authors in France through the language in which they wrote. The group of authors Elsky considers depicted key moments in the war from their perspective as Jewish émigrés, including the June 1940 civilian flight from Paris, life in the occupied and southern zones, the roundups and internment camps, and the Resistance in France and in London. Writing in French, they expressed multiple cultural, religious, and linguistic identities, challenging the boundaries between center and periphery, between French and foreign, even when their sense of belonging was being violently denied.
The Sultan's Communists uncovers the history of Jewish radical involvement in Morocco's national liberation project and examines how Moroccan Jews envisioned themselves participating as citizens in a newly-independent Morocco. Closely following the lives of five prominent Moroccan Jewish Communists (Léon René Sultan, Edmond Amran El Maleh, Abraham Serfaty, Simon Lévy, and Sion Assidon), Alma Rachel Heckman describes how Moroccan Communist Jews fit within the story of mass Jewish exodus from Morocco in the 1950s and '60s, and how they survived oppressive post-independence authoritarian rule under the Moroccan monarchy to ultimately become heroic emblems of state-sponsored Muslim-Jewish tolerance. The figures at the center of Heckman's narrative stood at the intersection of colonialism, Arab nationalism, and Zionism. Their stories unfolded in a country that, upon independence from France and Spain in 1956, allied itself with the United States (and, more quietly, Israel) during the Cold War, while attempting to claim a place for itself within the fraught politics of the post-independence Arab world. The Sultan's Communists contributes to the growing literature on Jews in the modern Middle East and provides a new history of twentieth-century Jewish Morocco.
When European powers carved political borders across the Middle East following World War I, a curious event in the international drug trade occurred: Palestine became the most important hashish waystation in the region and a thriving market for consumption. British and French colonial authorities utterly failed to control the illicit trade, raising questions about the legitimacy of their mandatory regimes. The creation of the Israeli state, too, had little effect to curb illicit trade. By the 1960s, drug trade had become a major point of contention in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and drug use widespread. Intoxicating Zion is the first book to tell the story of hashish in Mandatory Palestine and Israel. Trafficking, use, and regulation; race, gender, and class; colonialism and nation-building all weave together in Haggai Ram's social history of the drug from the 1920s to the aftermath of the 1967 War. The hashish trade encompassed smugglers, international gangs, residents, law enforcers, and political actors, and Ram traces these flows through the interconnected realms of cross-border politics, economics, and culture. Hashish use was and is a marker of belonging and difference, and its history offers readers a unique glimpse into how the modern Middle East was made.
Another Modernity is a rich study of the life and thought of Elia Benamozegh, a nineteenth-century rabbi and philosopher whose work profoundly influenced Christian-Jewish dialogue in twentieth-century Europe. Benamozegh, a Livornese rabbi of Moroccan descent, was a prolific writer and transnational thinker who corresponded widely with religious and intellectual figures in France, the Maghreb, and the Middle East. This idiosyncratic figure, who argued for the universalism of Judaism and for interreligious engagement, came to influence a spectrum of religious thinkers so varied that it includes proponents of the ecumenical Second Vatican Council, American evangelists, and right-wing Zionists in Israel. What Benamozegh proposed was unprecedented: that the Jewish tradition presented a solution to the religious crisis of modernity. According to Benamozegh, the defining features of Judaism were universalism, a capacity to foster interreligious engagement, and the political power and mythical allure of its theosophical tradition, Kabbalah—all of which made the Jewish tradition uniquely equipped to assuage the post-Enlightenment tensions between religion and reason. In this book, Clémence Boulouque presents a wide-ranging and nuanced investigation of Benamozegh's published and unpublished work and his continuing legacy, considering his impact on Christian-Jewish dialogue as well as on far-right Christians and right-wing religious Zionists.
Forging Ties, Forging Passports is a history of migration and nation-building from the vantage point of those who lived between states. Devi Mays traces the histories of Ottoman Sephardi Jews who emigrated to the Americas—and especially to Mexico—in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the complex relationships they maintained to legal documentation as they migrated and settled into new homes. Mays considers the shifting notions of belonging, nationality, and citizenship through the stories of individual women, men, and families who navigated these transitions in their everyday lives, as well as through the paperwork they carried. In the aftermath of World War I and the Mexican Revolution, migrants traversed new layers of bureaucracy and authority amid shifting political regimes as they crossed and were crossed by borders. Ottoman Sephardi migrants in Mexico resisted unequivocal classification as either Ottoman expatriates or Mexicans through their links to the Sephardi diaspora in formerly Ottoman lands, France, Cuba, and the United States. By making use of commercial and familial networks, these Sephardi migrants maintained a geographic and social mobility that challenged the physical borders of the state and the conceptual boundaries of the nation.
Five centuries after the forced conversion of Spanish and Portuguese Jews to Catholicism, stories of these conversos' descendants uncovering long-hidden Jewish roots have come to light and taken hold of the literary and popular imagination. This seemingly remote history has inspired a wave of contemporary writing involving hidden artifacts, familial whispers and secrets, and clandestine Jewish ritual practices pointing to a past that had been presumed dead and buried. The Converso's Return explores the cultural politics and literary impact of this reawakened interest in converso and crypto-Jewish history, ancestry, and identity, and asks what this fascination with lost-and-found heritage can tell us about how we relate to and make use of the past. Dalia Kandiyoti offers nuanced interpretations of contemporary fictional and autobiographical texts about crypto-Jews in Cuba, Mexico, New Mexico, Spain, France, the Ottoman Empire, and Turkey. These works not only imagine what might be missing from the historical archive but also suggest an alternative historical consciousness that underscores uncommon convergences of and solidarities within Sephardi, Christian, Muslim, converso, and Sabbatean histories. Steeped in diaspora, Sephardi, transamerican, Iberian, and world literature studies, The Converso's Return illuminates how the converso narrative can enrich our understanding of history, genealogy, and collective memory.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson was the charismatic leader of the Chabad Hasidic movement and its designated Messiah. Yet when he died in 1994, the messianic fervor he inspired did not subside. Through traditional means and digital technologies, a group of radical Hasidim, the Meshichistim, still keep the Rebbe palpably close—engaging in ongoing dialogue, participating in specific rituals, and developing an ever-expanding visual culture of portraits and videos. With Us More Than Ever focuses on this group to explore how religious practice can sustain the belief that a messianic figure is both present and accessible. Yoram Bilu documents a unique religious experience that is distinctly modern. The rallying point of the Meshichistim—that the Rebbe is "with us more than ever"—is sustained through an elaborate system that creates the sense of his constant and pervasive presence in the lives of his followers. The virtual Rebbe that emerges is multiple, visible, accessible, and highly decentralized, the epicenter of a truly messianic movement in the twenty-first century. Combining ethnographic fieldwork and cognitive science with nuanced analysis, Bilu documents the birth and development of a new religious faith, describing the emergence of new spiritual horizons, a process common to various religious movements old and new.
Memoirs of Jewish life in the east European shtetl often recall the hekdesh (town poorhouse) and its residents: beggars, madmen and madwomen, disabled people, and poor orphans. Stepchildren of the Shtetl tells the story of these marginalized figures from the dawn of modernity to the eve of the Holocaust. Combining archival research with analysis of literary, cultural, and religious texts, Natan M. Meir recovers the lived experience of Jewish society's outcasts and reveals the central role that they came to play in the drama of modernization. Those on the margins were often made to bear the burden of the nation as a whole, whether as scapegoats in moments of crisis or as symbols of degeneration, ripe for transformation by reformers, philanthropists, and nationalists. Shining a light into the darkest corners of Jewish society in eastern Europe—from the often squalid poorhouse of the shtetl to the slums and insane asylums of Warsaw and Odessa, from the conscription of poor orphans during the reign of Nicholas I to the cholera wedding, a magical ritual in which an epidemic was halted by marrying outcasts to each other in the town cemetery—Stepchildren of the Shtetl reconsiders the place of the lowliest members of an already stigmatized minority.
The German language holds an ambivalent and controversial place in the modern history of European Jews, representing different—often conflicting—historical currents. It was the language of the German classics, of German Jewish writers and scientists, of Central European Jewish culture, and of Herzl and the Zionist movement. But it was also the language of Hitler, Goebbels, and the German guards in Nazi concentration camps. The crucial role of German in the formation of Jewish national culture and politics in the late nineteenth century has been largely overshadowed by the catastrophic events that befell Jews under Nazi rule. German as a Jewish Problem tells the Jewish history of the German language, focusing on Jewish national movements in Central and Eastern Europe and Palestine/Israel. Marc Volovici considers key writers and activists whose work reflected the multilingual nature of the Jewish national sphere and the centrality of the German language within it, and argues that it is impossible to understand the histories of modern Hebrew and Yiddish without situating them in relation to German. This book offers a new understanding of the language problem in modern Jewish history, turning to German to illuminate the questions and dilemmas that largely defined the experience of European Jews in the age of nationalism.
In the mid-nineteenth century, Jerusalem was rich with urban texts inscribed in marble, gold, and cloth, investing holy sites with divine meaning. Ottoman modernization and British colonial rule transformed the city; new texts became a key means to organize society and subjectivity. Stone inscriptions, pilgrims' graffiti, and sacred banners gave way to street markers, shop signs, identity papers, and visiting cards that each sought to define and categorize urban space and people. A City in Fragments tells the modern history of a city overwhelmed by its religious and symbolic significance. Yair Wallach walked the streets of Jerusalem to consider the graffiti, logos, inscriptions, official signs, and ephemera that transformed the city over the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As these urban texts became a tool in the service of capitalism, nationalism, and colonialism, the affinities of Arabic and Hebrew were forgotten and these sister-languages found themselves locked in a bitter war. Looking at the writing of—and literally on—Jerusalem, Wallach offers a creative and expansive history of the city, a fresh take on modern urban texts, and a new reading of the Israel/Palestine conflict through its material culture.
By the turn of the twentieth century, the eastern Mediterranean port city of Izmir had been home to a vibrant and substantial Sephardi Jewish community for over four hundred years, and had emerged as a major center of Jewish life. The Jews of Ottoman Izmir tells the story of this long overlooked Jewish community, drawing on previously untapped Ladino archival material. Across Europe, Jews were often confronted with the notion that their religious and cultural distinctiveness was somehow incompatible with the modern age. Yet the view from Ottoman Izmir invites a different approach: what happens when Jewish difference is totally unremarkable? Dina Danon argues that while Jewish religious and cultural distinctiveness might have remained unquestioned in this late Ottoman port city, other elements of Jewish identity emerged as profound sites of tension, most notably those of poverty and social class. Through the voices of both beggars on the street and mercantile elites, shoe-shiners and newspaper editors, rabbis and housewives, this book argues that it was new attitudes to poverty and class, not Judaism, that most significantly framed this Sephardi community's encounter with the modern age.
American and Israeli Jews have historically clashed over the contours of Jewish identity, and their experience of modern Jewish life has been radically different. As Philip Roth put it, they are the "heirs jointly of a drastically bifurcated legacy." But what happens when the encounter between American and Israeli Jewishness takes place in literary form—when Jewish American novels make aliyah, or when Israeli novels are imported for consumption by the diaspora? Reading Israel, Reading America explores the politics of translation as it shapes the understandings and misunderstandings of Israeli literature in the United States and American Jewish literature in Israel. Engaging in close readings of translations of iconic novels by the likes of Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, Amos Oz, A. B. Yehoshua, and Yoram Kaniuk—in particular, the ideologically motivated omissions and additions in the translations, and the works' reception by reviewers and public intellectuals—Asscher decodes the literary encounter between Israeli and American Jews. These discrepancies demarcate an ongoing cultural dialogue around representations of violence, ethics, Zionism, diaspora, and the boundaries between Jews and non-Jews. Navigating the disputes between these "rival siblings" of the Jewish world, Asscher provocatively untangles the cultural relations between Israeli and American Jews.
Thinking is much broader than what our science-obsessed, utilitarian culture often takes it to be. More than mere problem solving or the methodical comprehension of our personal and natural circumstances, thinking may take the form of a poem, a painting, a sculpture, a museum exhibition, or a documentary film. Exploring a variety of works by contemporary artists and writers who exemplify poetic thinking, this book draws our attention to one of the crucial affordances of this form of creative human insight and wisdom: its capacity to help protect and cultivate human freedom. All the contemporary works of art and literature that Poetic Thinking Today examines touch on our recent experiences with tyranny in culture and politics. They express the uninhibited thoughts and ideas of their creators even as they foster poetic thinking in us. In an era characterized by the global reemergence of authoritarian tendencies, Amir Eshel writes with the future of the humanities in mind. He urges the acknowledgment and cultivation of poetic thinking as a crucial component of our intellectual pursuits in general and of our educational systems more specifically.
The Arab-Israeli conflict constituted a serious problem for the American Left in the 1960s: pro-Palestinian activists hailed the Palestinian struggle against Israel as part of a fundamental restructuring of the global imperialist order, while pro-Israeli leftists held a less revolutionary worldview that understood Israel as a paragon of democratic socialist virtue. This intra-left debate was in part doctrinal, in part generational. But further woven into this split were sometimes agonizing questions of identity. Jews were disproportionately well-represented in the Movement, and their personal and communal lives could deeply affect their stances vis-à-vis the Middle East. The Movement and the Middle East offers the first assessment of the controversial and ultimately debilitating role of the Arab-Israeli conflict among left-wing activists during a turbulent period of American history. Michael R. Fischbach draws on a deep well of original sources—from personal interviews to declassified FBI and CIA documents—to present a story of the left-wing responses to the question of Palestine and Israel. He shows how, as the 1970s wore on, the cleavages emerging within the American Left widened, weakening the Movement and leaving a lasting impact that still affects progressive American politics today.
When Vichy France and the Jews was first published in France in 1981, the reaction was explosive. Before the appearance of this groundbreaking book, the question of the Vichy regime's cooperation with the Third Reich had been suppressed. Michael R. Marrus and Robert O. Paxton were the first to access closed archives that revealed the extent of Vichy's complicity in the Nazi effort to eliminate the Jews. Since the book's original publication, additional archives have been opened, and the role of the French state in the deportation of Jews to the Nazi death factories is now openly acknowledged. This new edition integrates over thirty years of subsequent scholarship, and incorporates research on French public opinion and the diversity of responses by French civilians to the campaign of persecution they witnessed around them. This classic account remains central to the historiography of France and the Holocaust, and in its revised edition, is more important than ever for understanding the Vichy government's role in the darkest atrocity of the twentieth century.
Reexamining the case of one of the most famous intellectuals to embrace fascism, this book argues that Martin Heidegger's politics and philosophy of language emerge from a deep affinity for the ethno-nationalist and anti-Semitic politics of the Nazi movement. Himself a product of a conservative milieu, Heidegger did not have to significantly compromise his thinking to adapt it to National Socialism but only to intensify certain themes within it. Tracing the continuity of these themes in his lectures on Greek philosophy, his magnum opus, Being and Time, and the notorious Black Notebooks that have only begun to see the light of day, Heidegger's Fascist Affinities argues that if Heidegger was able to align himself so thoroughly with Nazism, it was partly because his philosophy was predicated upon fundamental forms of silencing and exclusion. With the arrival of the Nazi revolution, Heidegger displayed—both in public and in private—a complex, protracted form of silence drawn from his philosophy of language. Avoiding the easy satisfaction of banishing Heidegger from the philosophical realm so indebted to his work, Adam Knowles asks whether what drove Heidegger to Nazism in the first place might continue to haunt the discipline. In the context of today's burgeoning ethno-nationalist regimes, can contemporary philosophy ensure itself of its immunity?
Partition—the physical division of territory along ethno-religious lines into separate nation-states—is often presented as a successful political "solution" to ethnic conflict. In the twentieth century, at least three new political entities—the Irish Free State, the Dominions (later Republics) of India and Pakistan, and the State of Israel—emerged as results of partition. This volume offers the first collective history of the concept of partition, tracing its emergence in the aftermath of the First World War and locating its genealogy in the politics of twentieth-century empire and decolonization. Making use of the transnational framework of the British Empire, which presided over the three major partitions of the twentieth century, contributors draw out concrete connections among the cases of Ireland, Pakistan, and Israel—the mutual influences, shared personnel, economic justifications, and material interests that propelled the idea of partition forward and resulted in the violent creation of new post-colonial political spaces. In so doing, the volume seeks to move beyond the nationalist frameworks that served in the first instance to promote partition as a natural phenomenon.
Los Angeles is a city of borders and lines, from the freeways that transect its neighborhoods to streets like Pico Boulevard that slash across the city from the ocean to the heart of downtown, creating both ethnic enclaves and pathways for interracial connection. Examining neighborhoods in east, south central, and west L.A.—and their imaginative representation by Chicana, African American, and Jewish American writers—this book investigates the moral and political implications of negotiating space. The Border and the Line takes up the central conceit of "the neighbor" to consider how the geography of racial identification and interracial encounters are represented and even made possible by literary language. Dean J. Franco probes how race is formed and transformed in literature and in everyday life, in the works of Helena María Viramontes, Paul Beatty, James Baldwin, and the writers of the Watts Writers Workshop. Exploring metaphor and metonymy, as well as economic and political circumstance, Franco identifies the potential for reconciliation in the figure of the neighbor, an identity that is grounded by geographical boundaries and which invites their crossing.
In 1869, Hayyim Habshush, a Yemeni Jew, accompanied the European orientalist Joseph Halévy on his archaeological tour of Yemen. Twenty years later, Habshush wrote A Vision of Yemen, a memoir of their travels, that provides a vivid account of daily life, religion, and politics. More than a simple travelogue, it is a work of trickster-tales, thick anthropological descriptions, and reflections on Jewish–Muslim relations. At its heart lies the fractious and intimate relationship between the Yemeni coppersmith and the "enlightened" European scholar and the collision between the cultures each represents. The book thus offers a powerful indigenous response to European Orientalism. This edition is the first English translation of Habshush's writings from the original Judeo-Arabic and Hebrew and includes an accessible historical introduction to the work. The translation maintains Habshush's gripping style and rich portrayal of the diverse communities and cultures of Yemen, offering a potent mixture of artful storytelling and cultural criticism, suffused with humor and empathy. Habshush writes about the daily lives of men and women, rich and poor, Jewish and Muslim, during a turbulent period of war and both Ottoman and European imperialist encroachment. With this translation, Alan Verskin recovers the lost voice of a man passionately committed to his land and people.
At once an ecological phenomenon and a cultural construction, the desert has varied associations within Zionist and Israeli culture. In the Judaic textual tradition, it evokes exile and punishment, yet is also a site for origin myths, the divine presence, and sanctity. Secular Zionism developed its own spin on the duality of the desert as the romantic site of Jews' biblical roots that inspired the Hebrew culture, and as the barren land outside the Jewish settlements in Palestine, featuring them as an oasis of order and technological progress within a symbolic desert. Yael Zerubavel tells the story of the desert from the early twentieth century to the present, shedding light on romantic-mythical associations, settlement and security concerns, environmental sympathies, and the commodifying tourist gaze. Drawing on literary narratives, educational texts, newspaper articles, tourist materials, films, popular songs, posters, photographs, and cartoons, Zerubavel reveals the complexities and contradictions that mark Israeli society's semiotics of space in relation to the Middle East, and the central role of the "besieged island" trope in Israeli culture and politics.
At the turn of the twentieth century, tuberculosis was a leading cause of death across America, Europe, and the Russian Empire. The incurable disease gave rise to a culture of convalescence, creating new opportunities for travel and literary reflection. Tubercular Capital tells the story of Yiddish and Hebrew writers whose lives and work were transformed by a tubercular diagnosis. Moving from eastern Europe to the Italian Peninsula, and from Mandate Palestine to the Rocky Mountains, Sunny S. Yudkoff follows writers including Sholem Aleichem, Raḥel Bluvshtein, David Vogel, and others as they sought "the cure" and drew on their experiences of illness to hone their literary craft. Combining archival research with literary analysis, Yudkoff uncovers how tuberculosis came to function as an agent of modern Jewish literature. The illness would provide the means for these suffering writers to grow their reputations and find financial backing. It served a central role in the public fashioning of their literary personas and ushered Jewish writers into a variety of intersecting English, German, and Russian literary traditions. Tracing the paths of these writers, Tubercular Capital reconsiders the foundational relationship between disease, biography, and literature.
Can anyone say anything that has not already been said about the most scrutinized text in human history? In one of the most radical rereadings of the opening chapters of Genesis since The Zohar, David Kishik manages to do just that. The Book of Shem, a philosophical meditation on the beginning of the Bible and the end of the world, offers an inspiring interpretation of this navel of world literature. The six parts of the primeval story—God's creation, the Garden of Eden, Cain and Abel, Noah's Ark, the first covenant, and the Tower of Babel—come together to address a single concern: How does one become the human being that one is? By closely analyzing the founding text of the Abrahamic religions, this short treatise rethinks some of their deepest convictions. With a mixture of reverence and violence, Kishik's creative commentary demonstrates the post-secular implications of a pre-Abrahamic position. A translation of the Hebrew source, included as an appendix, helps to peel away the endless layers of presuppositions about its meaning.
The Holocaust is usually understood as a European story. Yet, this pivotal episode unfolded across North Africa and reverberated through politics, literature, memoir, and memory—Muslim as well as Jewish—in the post-war years. The Holocaust and North Africa offers the first English-language study of the unfolding events in North Africa, pushing at the boundaries of Holocaust Studies and North African Studies, and suggesting, powerfully, that neither is complete without the other. The essays in this volume reconstruct the implementation of race laws and forced labor across the Maghreb during World War II and consider the Holocaust as a North African local affair, which took diverse form from town to town and city to city. They explore how the Holocaust ruptured Muslim–Jewish relations, setting the stage for an entirely new post-war reality. Commentaries by leading scholars of Holocaust history complete the picture, reflecting on why the history of the Holocaust and North Africa has been so widely ignored—and what we have to gain by understanding it in all its nuances. Published in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Iran is home to the largest Jewish population in the Middle East, outside of Israel. At its peak in the twentieth century, the population numbered around 100,000; today about 25,000 Jews live in Iran. Between Iran and Zion offers the first history of this vibrant community over the course of the last century, from the 1905 Constitutional Revolution through the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Over this period, Iranian Jews grew from a peripheral community into a prominent one that has made clear impacts on daily life in Iran. Drawing on interviews, newspapers, family stories, autobiographies, and previously untapped archives, Lior B. Sternfeld analyzes how Iranian Jews contributed to Iranian nation-building projects, first under the Pahlavi monarchs and then in the post-revolutionary Islamic Republic. He considers the shifting reactions to Zionism over time, in particular to religious Zionism in the early 1900s and political Zionism after the creation of the state of Israel. And he investigates the various groups that constituted the Iranian Jewish community, notably the Jewish communists who became prominent activists in the left-wing circles in the 1950s and the revolutionary Jewish organization that participated in the 1979 Revolution. The result is a rich account of the vital role of Jews in the social and political fabric of twentieth-century Iran.
How did Jews go from lives organized by synagogues, shul, and mikvehs to lives that—if explicitly Jewish at all—were conducted in Hillel houses, JCCs, Katz's, and even Chabad? In pre-emancipation Europe, most Jews followed Jewish law most of the time, but by the turn of the twentieth century, a new secular Jewish identity had begun to take shape. Homes Away From Home tells the story of Ashkenazi Jews as they made their way in European society in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, focusing on the Jewish communities of Paris, Berlin, and St. Petersburg. At a time of growing political enfranchisement for Jews within European nations, membership in the official Jewish community became increasingly optional, and Jews in turn created spaces and programs to meet new social needs. The contexts of Jewish life expanded beyond the confines of "traditional" Jewish spaces into sites of consumption and leisure, sometimes to the consternation of Jewish authorities. Sarah Wobick-Segev argues that the social practices that developed between 1890 and the 1930s—such as celebrating holydays at hotels and restaurants, or sending children to summer camp—fundamentally reshaped Jewish community, redefining and extending the boundaries of where Jewishness happened.
In the spring of 1898, thousands of peasants and townspeople in western Galicia rioted against their Jewish neighbors. Attacks took place in more than 400 communities in this northeastern province of the Habsburg Monarchy, in present-day Poland and Ukraine. Jewish-owned homes and businesses were ransacked and looted, and Jews were assaulted, threatened, and humiliated, though not killed. Emperor Franz Joseph signed off on a state of emergency in thirty-three counties and declared martial law in two. Over five thousand individuals—peasants, day-laborers, city council members, teachers, shopkeepers—were charged with myriad offenses. Seeking to make sense of this violence and its aftermath, The Plunder examines the circulation of antisemitic ideas within Galicia against the political backdrop of the Habsburg state. Daniel Unowsky sees the 1898 anti-Jewish riots as evidence not of Galician backwardness and barbarity, but of a late nineteenth-century Europe reeling from economic, cultural, and political transformations wrought by mass politics, literacy, industrialization, capitalist agriculture, and government expansion. Through its nuanced analysis of the riots as a form of "exclusionary violence," this book offers new insights into the upsurge of the antisemitism that accompanied the emergence of mass politics in Europe at the turn of the twentieth century.
The city of Jaffa presents a paradox: intimate neighbors who are political foes. The official Jewish national tale proceeds from exile to redemption and nation-building, while the Palestinians' is one of a golden age cut short, followed by dispossession and resistance. The experiences of Jaffa's Jewish and Arab residents, however, reveal lives and nationalist sentiments far more complex. Twilight Nationalism shares the stories of ten of the city's elders—women and men, rich and poor, Muslims, Jews, and Christians—to radically deconstruct these national myths and challenge common understandings of belonging and alienation. Through the stories told at life's end, Daniel Monterescu and Haim Hazan illuminate how national affiliation ultimately gives way to existential circumstances. Similarities in lives prove to be shaped far more by socioeconomic class, age, and gender than national allegiance, and intersections between stories usher in a politics of existence in place of politics of identity. In offering the real stories individuals tell about themselves, this book reveals shared perspectives too long silenced and new understandings of local community previously lost in nationalist narratives.
Is religion a source of political stability and social continuity, or an agent of radical change? This question, so central to contemporary conversations about religion and extremism, has generated varied responses over the last century. Taking Jewish and Islamic education as its objects of inquiry, Mandatory Separation sheds light on the contours of this debate in Palestine during the formative period of British rule, detailing how colonial, Zionist, and Palestinian-Muslim leaders developed competing views of the form and function of religious education in an age of mass politics. Drawing from archival records, school syllabi, textbooks, newspapers, and personal narratives, Suzanne Schneider argues that the British Mandatory government supported religious education as a supposed antidote to nationalist passions at the precise moment when the administrative, pedagogic, and curricular transformation of religious schooling rendered it a vital tool for Zionist and Palestinian leaders. This study of their policies and practices illuminates the tensions, similarities, and differences among these diverse educational and political philosophies, revealing the lasting significance of these debates for thinking about religion and political identity in the modern Middle East.
To celebrate the completion of the twenty-year project to translate The Zohar, Stanford University Press is pleased to offer a complete set of all twelve volumes of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition. Sefer ha-Zohar (The Book of Radiance) has amazed readers ever since it emerged in Spain over seven hundred years ago. Written in a lyrical Aramaic, the Zohar, the masterpiece of Kabbalah, features mystical interpretation of the Torah, from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Zohar: Pritzker Edition volumes present the first translation ever made from a critical Aramaic text of the Zohar, which has been established by Professor Daniel C. Matt (along with Nathan Wolski and Joel Hecker) based on a wide range of original manuscripts. Every one of the twelve volumes provides extensive commentary, appearing at the bottom of each page, clarifying the kabbalistic symbolism and terminology, and citing sources and parallels from biblical, rabbinic, and kabbalistic texts.
Stories abound of immigrant Jews on the outside looking in, clambering up the ladder of social mobility, successfully assimilating and integrating into their new worlds. But this book is not about the success stories. It's a paean to the bunglers, the blockheads, and the just plain weird—Jews who were flung from small, impoverished eastern European towns into the urban shtetls of New York and Warsaw, where, as they say in Yiddish, their bread landed butter side down in the dirt. These marginal Jews may have found their way into the history books far less frequently than their more socially upstanding neighbors, but there's one place you can find them in force: in the Yiddish newspapers that had their heyday from the 1880s to the 1930s. Disaster, misery, and misfortune: you will find no better chronicle of the daily ignominies of urban Jewish life than in the pages of the Yiddish press. An underground history of downwardly mobile Jews, Bad Rabbi exposes the seamy underbelly of pre-WWII New York and Warsaw, the two major centers of Yiddish culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. With true stories plucked from the pages of the Yiddish papers, Eddy Portnoy introduces us to the drunks, thieves, murderers, wrestlers, poets, and beauty queens whose misadventures were immortalized in print. There's the Polish rabbi blackmailed by an American widow, mass brawls at weddings and funerals, a psychic who specialized in locating missing husbands, and violent gangs of Jewish mothers on the prowl—in short, not quite the Jews you'd expect. One part Isaac Bashevis Singer, one part Jerry Springer, this irreverent, unvarnished, and frequently hilarious compendium of stories provides a window into an unknown Yiddish world that was.
Animal studies may be a recent academic development, but our fascination with animals is nothing new. Surviving cave paintings are of animal forms, and closer to us, as Ken Stone points out, animals populate biblical literature from beginning to end. This book explores the significance of animal studies for the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible. The field has had relatively little impact on biblical interpretation to date, but combined with biblical scholarship, it sheds useful light on animals, animal symbolism, and the relations among animals, humans, and God—not only for those who study biblical literature and its ancient context, but for contemporary readers concerned with environmental, social, and animal ethics. Without the presence of domesticated and wild animals, neither biblical traditions nor the religions that make use of the Bible would exist in their current forms. Although parts of the Bible draw a clear line between humans and animals, other passages complicate that line in multiple ways and challenge our assumptions about the roles animals play therein. Engaging influential thinkers, including Jacques Derrida, Donna Haraway, and other experts in animal and ecological studies, Reading the Hebrew Bible with Animal Studies shows how prehumanist texts reveal unexpectedly relevant dynamics and themes for our posthumanist age.
Between 1949 and 1951, 123,000 Iraqi Jews immigrated to the newly established Israeli state. Lacking the resources to absorb them all, the Israeli government resettled them in maabarot, or transit camps, relegating them to poverty. In the tents and shacks of the camps, their living conditions were squalid and unsanitary. Basic necessities like water were in short supply, when they were available at all. Rather than returning to a homeland as native sons, Iraqi Jews were newcomers in a foreign place. Impossible Exodus tells the story of these Iraqi Jews' first decades in Israel. Faced with ill treatment and discrimination from state officials, Iraqi Jews resisted: they joined Israeli political parties, demonstrated in the streets, and fought for the education of their children, leading a civil rights struggle whose legacy continues to influence contemporary debates in Israel. Orit Bashkin sheds light on their everyday lives and their determination in a new country, uncovering their long, painful transformation from Iraqi to Israeli. In doing so, she shares the resilience and humanity of a community whose story has yet to be told.
Holocaust Memory in the Digital Age explores the nexus of new media and memory practices, raising questions about how advances in digital technologies continue to influence the nature of Holocaust memorialization. Through an in-depth study of the largest and most widely available collection of videotaped interviews with survivors and other witnesses to the Holocaust, the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation's Visual History Archive, Jeffrey Shandler weighs the possibilities and challenges brought about by digital forms of public memory. The Visual History Archive's holdings are extensive—over 100,000 hours of video, including interviews with over 50,000 individuals—and came about at a time of heightened anxiety about the imminent passing of the generation of Holocaust survivors and other eyewitnesses. Now, the Shoah Foundation's investment in new digital media is instrumental to its commitment to remembering the Holocaust both as a subject of historical importance in its own right and as a paradigmatic moral exhortation against intolerance. Shandler not only considers the Archive as a whole, but also looks closely at individual survivors' stories, focusing on narrative, language, and spectacle to understand how Holocaust remembrance is mediated.
Written in pieces over the last fifteen years of his life and published posthumously, S. Y. Agnon's A City in Its Fullness is an ambitious, historically rich sequence of stories memorializing Buczacz, the city of his birth. This town in present-day Ukraine was once home to a vibrant Jewish population that was destroyed twice over—in the First World War and again in the Holocaust. Agnon's epic story cycle, however, focuses not on the particulars of destruction, but instead reimagines the daily lives of Buczacz's Jewish citizens, vividly preserving the vanished world of early modern Jewry. Ancestral Tales shows how this collection marks a critical juncture within the Agnon canon. Through close readings of the stories against a shifting historical backdrop, Alan Mintz presents a multilayered history of the town, along with insight into Agnon's fictional transformations. Mintz relates these narrative strategies to catastrophe literature from earlier periods of Jewish history, showing how Agnon's Buczacz is a literary achievement at once innovative in its form of remembrance and deeply rooted in Jewish tradition.
Sefer ha-Zohar (The Book of Radiance) has amazed readers ever since it emerged in Spain over seven hundred years ago. Written in a lyrical Aramaic, the Zohar, the masterpiece of Kabbalah, features mystical interpretation of the Torah, from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The twelfth volume of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition presents an assortment of discrete Zoharic compositions. The first two chapters contain different versions of the Zoharic Heikhalot, descriptions of the heavenly halls or palaces that the soul of the kabbalist traverses during prayer. Piqqudin, or Commandments, is a kabbalistic treatment of the mystical reasons for the commandments. Raza de-Razin (Mystery of Mysteries) is a diagnostic manual for the ancient and medieval science of physiognomy, determining people's character based on physical appearance. Sitrei Otiyyot (Secrets of the Letters) is a mystical essay that maps out the emergence of divine and mundane reality from the tetragrammaton, YHVH. Qav ha-Middah (Line of Measure) is another mystical essay that describes the divine instrument used by God to gauge the mystical overflow to the ten sefirot. The commentary on Merkevet Yehezqel (Ezekiel's Chariot) interprets the details of the prophet Ezekiel's chariot-vision. Beginning with the description of the four creatures, the Zohar demonstrates how Divinity and the cosmos comprise a series of quaternities that pervade all Being. The last main chapter includes Zoharic commentary to various portions of the Torah. The volume closes with a short appendix of passages that printers have labeled Tosefta despite their not fitting into that genre—a suitable end to the Zohar whose parameters and composition will remain ever mysterious.
The Merchants of Oran weaves together the history of a Mediterranean port city with the lives of Oran's Jewish mercantile elite during the transition to French colonial rule. Through the life of Jacob Lasry and other influential Jewish merchants, Joshua Schreier tells the story of how this diverse and fiercely divided group both responded to, and in turn influenced, French colonialism in Algeria. Jacob Lasry and his cohort established themselves in Oran in the decades after the Regency of Algiers dislodged the Spanish in 1792, during a period of relative tolerance and economic prosperity. In newly Muslim Oran, Jewish merchants found opportunities to ply their trades, dealing in both imports and exports. On the eve of France's long and brutal invasion of Algeria, Oran owed much of its commercial vitality to the success of these Jewish merchants. Under French occupation, the merchants of Oran maintained their commercial, political, and social clout. Yet by the 1840s, French policies began collapsing Oran's diverse Jewish inhabitants into a single social category, legally separating Jews from their Muslim neighbors and creating a racial hierarchy. Schreier argues that France's exclusionary policy of "emancipation," far more than older antipathies, planted the seeds of twentieth-century ruptures between Muslims and Jews.
Published in Tunis in 1938, Ninette of Sin Street is one of the first works of Tunisian fiction in French. Ninette's author, Vitalis Danon, arrived in Tunisia under the aegis of the Franco-Jewish organization the Alliance Israélite Universelle and quickly adopted—and was adopted by—the local community. Ninette is an unlikely protagonist: Compelled by poverty to work as a prostitute, she dreams of a better life and an education for her son. Plucky and street-wise, she enrolls her son in the local school and the story unfolds as she narrates her life to the school's headmaster. Ninette's account is both a classic rags-to-riches tale and a subtle, incisive critique of French colonialism. That Ninette's story should still prove surprising today suggests how much we stand to learn from history, and from the secrets of Sin Street. This volume offers the first English translation of Danon's best-known work. A selection of his letters and an editors' introduction and notes provide context for this cornerstone of Judeo-Tunisian letters.
Over the course of the nineteenth century, some 84,500 Jews in imperial Russia converted to Christianity. Confessions of the Shtetl explores the day-to-day world of these people, including the social, geographic, religious, and economic links among converts, Christians, and Jews. The book narrates converts' tales of love, desperation, and fear, tracing the uneasy contest between religious choice and collective Jewish identity in tsarist Russia. Rather than viewing the shtetl as the foundation myth for modern Jewish nationhood, this work reveals the shtetl's history of conversions and communal engagement with converts, which ultimately yielded a cultural hybridity that both challenged and fueled visions of Jewish separatism. Drawing on extensive research with conversion files in imperial Russian archives, in addition to the mass press, novels, and memoirs, Ellie R. Schainker offers a sociocultural history of religious toleration and Jewish life that sees baptism not as the fundamental departure from Jewishness or the Jewish community, but as a conversion that marked the start of a complicated experiment with new forms of identity and belonging. Ultimately, she argues that the Jewish encounter with imperial Russia did not revolve around coercion and ghettoization but was a genuinely religious drama with a diverse, attractive, and aggressive Christianity.
Sefer ha-Zohar (The Book of Radiance) has captivated readers ever since it emerged in Spain over seven hundred years ago. Written in a lyrical Aramaic, the Zohar, a masterpiece of Kabbalah, features mystical interpretation of the Torah, rabbinic tradition, and Jewish practice. Volume 11 comprises a collection of different genres within the Zoharic library. The fragmentary Midrash ha-Ne'lam on Song of Songs opens with its treatment of mystical kissing. Highlights of Midrash ha-Ne'lam on Ruth are the spiritual function of the Kaddish prayer, the story of the ten martyrs, and mystical eating practices. In Midrash ha-Ne'lam on Lamentations, the inhabitants of Babylon and the inhabitants of Jerusalem vie to eulogize a ruined Jerusalem. It reframes the notion of a Holy Family in Jewish terms, in implicit contrast to the Christian triad of Father, Mother, and Son. The Zohar on Song of Songs consists of dueling homilies between Rabbi Shim'on bar Yohai and the prophet Elijah, contrasting spiritual ascent with the presence of the demonic. The climax projects the eros of the Song of Songs onto the celestial letters that constitute the core of existence. Matnitin and Tosefta are dense, compact passages in which heavenly heralds chide humanity for its spiritual slumber, rousing people to learn the mysteries of holiness. Packed with neologisms and hortatory in tone, these passages are spurs to pietistic devotion and mystical insight.
It has often been claimed that Jews have a penchant for capitalism and capitalist economic activity. With this book, Adam Teller challenges that assumption. Examining how Jews achieved their extraordinary success within the late feudal economy of the eighteenth-century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, he shows that economic success did not necessarily come through any innate entrepreneurial skills, but through identifying and exploiting economic niches in the pre-modern economy—in particular, the monopoly on the sale of grain alcohol. Jewish economic activity was a key factor in the development of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and it greatly enhanced the incomes, and thereby the social and political status, of the noble magnates, including the powerful Radziwiłł family. In turn, with the magnate's backing, Jews were able to leverage their own economic success into high status in estate society. Over time, relations within Jewish society began to change, putting less value on learning and pedigree and more on wealth and connections with the estate owners. This groundbreaking book exemplifies how the study of Jewish economic history can shed light on a crucial mechanism of Jewish social integration. In the Polish-Lithuanian setting, Jews were simultaneously a despised religious minority and key economic players, with a consequent standing that few could afford to ignore.
Touted as the "Jerusalem of the Balkans," the Mediterranean port city of Salonica (Thessaloniki) was once home to the largest Sephardic Jewish community in the world. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the city's incorporation into Greece in 1912 provoked a major upheaval that compelled Salonica's Jews to reimagine their community and status as citizens of a nation-state. Jewish Salonica is the first book to tell the story of this tumultuous transition through the voices and perspectives of Salonican Jews as they forged a new place for themselves in Greek society. Devin E. Naar traveled the globe, from New York to Salonica, Jerusalem, and Moscow, to excavate archives once confiscated by the Nazis. Written in Ladino, Greek, French, and Hebrew, these archives, combined with local newspapers, reveal how Salonica's Jews fashioned a new hybrid identity as Hellenic Jews during a period marked by rising nationalism and economic crisis as well as unprecedented Jewish cultural and political vibrancy. Salonica's Jews—Zionists, assimilationists, and socialists—reinvigorated their connection to the city and claimed it as their own until the Holocaust. Through the case of Salonica's Jews, Naar recovers the diverse experiences of a lost religious, linguistic, and national minority at the crossroads of Europe and the Middle East.
For nineteenth-century Eastern European Jews, modernization entailed the abandonment of arranged marriage in favor of the "love match." Romantic novels taught Jewish readers the rules of romance and the choreography of courtship. But because these new conceptions of romance were rooted in the Christian and chivalric traditions, the Jewish embrace of "the love religion" was always partial. In The Marriage Plot, Naomi Seidman considers the evolution of Jewish love and marriage though the literature that provided Jews with a sentimental education, highlighting a persistent ambivalence in the Jewish adoption of European romantic ideologies. Nineteenth-century Hebrew and Yiddish literature tempered romantic love with the claims of family and community, and treated the rules of gender complementarity as comedic fodder. Twentieth-century Jewish writers turned back to tradition, finding pleasures in matchmaking, intergenerational ties, and sexual segregation. In the modern Jewish voices of Sigmund Freud, Erica Jong, Philip Roth, and Tony Kushner, the Jewish heretical challenge to the European romantic sublime has become the central sexual ideology of our time.
Sefer ha-Zohar (The Book of Radiance) has amazed readers ever since it emerged in Spain over seven hundred years ago. Written in a lyrical Aramaic, the Zohar, a masterpiece of Kabbalah, features mystical interpretation of the Torah, from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The tenth volume of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition presents Midrash ha-Ne'lam on the Torah, the earliest texts of the Zoharic corpus and first fruits of the Zoharic world. In contrast to the main body of the Zohar, Midrash ha-Ne'lam is composed in both Aramaic and Hebrew; its style combines philosophical allegory and kabbalistic midrash. Particularly noteworthy is the extended allegorical interpretation of the patriarchal narratives. They are read as an account of the descent of the soul, its adventures on earth, and its wandering journey after death, finally culminating in its reunion with the perfected body following resurrection. Quintessential Zoharic motifs such as "walking on the way" and the "nocturnal delight in the Garden of Eden" make their first appearances here. The volume also includes many short narratives featuring the "Masters of Mishnah," a group of sages possessing esoteric knowledge of the soul and the cosmos, the forerunner of the Zoharic fellowship.
Genocide in the Carpathians presents the history of Subcarpathian Rus', a multiethnic and multireligious borderland in the heart of Europe. This society of Carpatho-Ruthenians, Jews, Magyars, and Roma disintegrated under pressure of state building in interwar Czechoslovakia and, during World War II, from the onslaught of the Hungarian occupation. Charges of "foreignness" and disloyalty to the Hungarian state linked antisemitism to xenophobia and national security anxieties. Genocide unfolded as a Hungarian policy, and Hungarian authorities committed mass robbery, deportations, and killings against all non-Magyar groups in their efforts to recast the region as part of an ethnonational "Greater Hungary." In considering the events that preceded the German invasion of Hungary in March 1944, this book reorients our view of the Holocaust not simply as a German drive for continent-wide genocide, but as a truly international campaign of mass murder, related to violence against non-Jews unleashed by projects of state and nation building. Focusing on both state and society, Raz Segal shows how Hungary's genocidal attack on Subcarpathian Rus' obliterated not only tens of thousands of lives but also a diverse society and way of life that today, from the vantage point of our world of nation-states, we find difficult to imagine.
Ivan Jablonka's grandparents' lives ended long before his began: although Matès and Idesa Jablonka were his family, they were perfect strangers. When he set out to uncover their story, Jablonka had little to work with. Neither of them was the least bit famous, and they left little behind except their two orphaned children, a handful of letters, and a passport. Persecuted as communists in Poland, as refugees in France, and then as Jews under the Vichy regime, Matès and Idesa lived their short lives underground. They were overcome by the tragedies of the twentieth century: Stalinism, the mounting dangers in Europe during the 1930s, the Second World War, and the destruction of European Jews. Jablonka's challenge was, as a historian, to rigorously distance himself and yet, as family, to invest himself completely in their story. Imagined oppositions collapsed—between scholarly research and personal commitment, between established facts and the passion of the one recording them, between history and the art of storytelling. To write this book, Jablonka traveled to three continents; met the handful of survivors of his grandparents' era, their descendants, and some of his far-flung cousins; and investigated twenty different archives. And in the process, he reflected on his own family and his responsibilities to his father, the orphaned son, and to his own children and the family wounds they all inherited. A History of the Grandparents I Never Had cannot bring Matès and Idesa to life, but Jablonka succeeds in bringing them, as he soberly puts it, to light. The result is a gripping story, a profound reflection, and an absolutely extraordinary history.
The clepsydra is an ancient water clock and serves as the primary metaphor for this examination of Jewish conceptions of time from antiquity to the present. Just as the flow of water is subject to a number of variables such as temperature and pressure, water clocks mark a time that is shifting and relative. Time is not a uniform phenomenon. It is a social construct made of beliefs, scientific knowledge, and political experiment. It is also a story told by theologians, historians, philosophers, and astrophysicists. Consequently, Clepsydra is a cultural history divided in two parts: narrated time and measured time, recounted time and counted time, absolute time and ordered time. It is through this dialog that Sylvie Anne Goldberg challenges the idea of a unified Judeo-Christian time and asks, "What is Jewish time?" She consults biblical and rabbinic sources and refers to medieval and modern texts to understand the different sorts of consciousness of time found in Judaism. In Jewish time, Goldberg argues, past, present, and future are intertwined and comprise one perpetual narrative.
Suddenly, the Sight of War is a genealogy of Hebrew poetry written in pre-state Israel between the beginning of World War II and the War of Independence in 1948. In it, renowned literary scholar Hannan Hever sheds light on how the views and poetic practices of poets changed as they became aware of the extreme violence in Europe toward the Jews. In dealing with the difficult topics of the Shoah, Natan Alterman's 1944 publication of The Poems of the Ten Plagues proved pivotal. His work inspired the next generation of poets like Haim Guri, as well as detractors like Amir Gilboa. Suddenly, the Sight of War also explores the relations between the poetry of the struggle for national independence and the genre of war-reportage, uniquely prevalent at the time. Hever concludes his genealogy with a focus on the feminine reaction to the War of Independence showing how women writers such as Lea Goldberg and Yocheved Bat-Miryam subverted war poetry at the end of the 1940s. Through the work of these remarkable poets, we learn how a culture transcended seemingly unspeakable violence.
Sefer ha-Zohar (The Book of Radiance) has amazed readers ever since it emerged in medieval Spain over seven hundred years ago. Written in lyrical Aramaic, this masterpiece of Kabbalah exceeds the dimensions of a normal book; it is virtually a body of mystical literature, comprising over twenty sections. The bulk of the Zohar consists of mystical interpretation of the Torah, from Genesis through Deuteronomy. The ninth volume of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition completes this running commentary on the Torah. Rabbi Shim'on and his Companions explore passages from the middle of the book of Numbers through the end of Deuteronomy. Among the remarkable sections is Rav Metivta, an account of a visionary journey by Rabbi Shim'on and some of the Companions to the Garden of Eden, where they discover secrets of the afterlife. Later in the volume appears the story of the Yanuqa (Child)—a wunderkind-and-enfant-terrible who amazes and teases, challenges and stumps the rabbis. Near the very end of the Zohar on the Torah comes the remarkable section known as Idra Zuta (The Small Assembly). This dramatic narrative describes the last gathering of Rabbi Shim'on and the Companions before his death. Here the master reveals profound mysteries of divine being, and then departs from this world to unite ecstatically with the Divine Feminine, Shekhinah. Before departing, Rabbi Shim'on invites all of the Companions to his wedding celebration above.
Sefer ha-Zohar (The Book of Radiance) has amazed readers ever since it emerged in medieval Spain over seven hundred years ago. Written in lyrical Aramaic, this masterpiece of Kabbalah exceeds the dimensions of a normal book; it is virtually a body of mystical literature, comprising over twenty sections. The bulk of the Zohar consists of mystical interpretation of the Torah, from Genesis through Deuteronomy. This eighth volume of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition consists of commentary on the end of Leviticus and the beginning of Numbers. Its most remarkable section is Idra Rabba—a dramatic narrative, in which Rabbi Shim'on and his Companions gather to explore the deepest secrets of God's nature. There is a sense of emergency here, because due to human misconduct, the world is vulnerable to divine wrath. The mystical heroes seek to restore the balance in the upper worlds—aiming to stimulate a radiant flow from God's aspect of Compassion, which can soothe the irascible divine aspect and thereby save the world. The quest is perilous, and through its intensity three of the Companions tragically perish.
Sefer ha-Zohar (The Book of Radiance) has amazed readers ever since it emerged in medieval Spain over seven hundred years ago. Written in lyrical Aramaic, this masterpiece of Kabbalah exceeds the dimensions of a normal book; it is virtually a body of mystical literature, comprising over twenty discrete sections. The bulk of the Zohar consists of a mystical interpretation of the Torah, from Genesis through Deuteronomy. This seventh volume of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition consists of commentary on more than half the book of Leviticus. How does the Zohar deal with a biblical text devoted largely to animal sacrifices, cereal offerings, and priestly ritual? Here these ancient laws and procedures are spiritualized, transformed into symbols of God's inner life, now that both the Desert Tabernacle and the Temple in Jerusalem no longer exist. For example, the ascent offering, which was totally consumed on the altar, is known in Hebrew as olah (literally, "that which ascends"). In the Zohar, this symbolizes Shekhinah, last of the ten sefirot (divine potencies), who ascends to unite with Her beloved, the blessed Holy One. The biblical narrative describes how two of Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, offered alien fire before YHVH and were immediately consumed in a divine blaze. Rabbinic tradition suggested various reasons why they were killed: they lacked the proper priestly garments, or had not washed their hands and feet, or were drunk, or were not married. For the Zohar, marriage enables one to imitate the divine union of male and female energies, and to stimulate that union above. By not marrying, Nadab and Abihu remained incomplete and unfulfilled. According to a related Zoharic passage, their ritual act failed because in their contemplation of the divine qualities they did not include Shekhinah. Without Her, God is incomplete.
Sefer ha-Zohar (The Book of Radiance) has amazed and overwhelmed readers ever since it emerged in medieval Spain toward the end of the thirteenth century. Written in a unique, lyrical Aramaic, this masterpiece of Kabbalah exceeds the dimensions of a normal book; it is virtually a body of literature, comprising over twenty discrete sections. The bulk of the Zohar consists of a fascinating mystical commentary on the Torah, from Genesis through Deuteronomy. This sixth volume of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition completes the Zohar's commentary on the book of Exodus. Some of the volume focuses on the Dwelling (or mishkan) built by Moses and the Israelites in the Sinai Desert. The mishkan symbolizes Shekhinah, the feminine presence of God who "dwells" on earth. The construction of the mishkan is intended to ensure Her intimacy with the people—and especially with Moses, who is actually called Her husband. The dramatic episode of the Golden Calf receives special treatment. The worship of the calf is seen as a rejection of Shekhinah. Normally, She would have restrained the wrath of God's masculine aspect and prevented Him from striking Israel; but having been rejected, She instead departed, leaving the people vulnerable. Whereupon the blessed Holy One hinted to Moses that it was up to him to defend Israel from divine destruction. By invoking the three patriarchs, Moses pinned God's arms, as it were, and immobilized Him, saving his people. With the appearance of this volume, The Zohar: Pritzker Edition has reached its halfway point. The projected Volumes VII-IX will complete the Zohar's main commentary on the Torah. Volumes X-XII will include the Zohar's commentary on various other books of the Bible (such as Ruth and Song of Songs) as well as several independent compositions.
Sefer ha-Zohar (The Book of Radiance) has amazed and overwhelmed readers ever since it emerged mysteriously in medieval Spain toward the end of the thirteenth century. Written in a unique, lyrical Aramaic, this masterpiece of Kabbalah exceeds the dimensions of a normal book; it is virtually a body of literature, comprising over twenty discrete sections. The bulk of the Zohar consists of a running commentary on the Torah, from Genesis through Deuteronomy. This fifth volume of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition opens in the middle of Exodus immediately following the revelation at Mount Sinai. The first chapter features a famous narrative about two rabbis and an old donkey-driver they encounter on the road. This old man seems like a complete ignoramus and pesters them with nonsensical riddles, but he turns out to be a sage and explains to them one of the most tightly guarded secrets of Kabbalah: the reincarnation of the soul. In the course of his exposition, the old man enthralls his two listeners with a romantic account of Torah as a maiden who reveals herself only to one who pursues her lovingly. The rest of this volume consists mainly of the Zohar's commentary on the biblical description of the mishkan, the Dwelling (or Tabernacle) in the desert. The mishkan symbolizes Shekhinah, the feminine presence of God who "dwells" on earth. Since the Dwelling was the center of worship, the Zohar explores here the theme of prayer. The volume concludes with one of the shortest yet most important sections of the Zohar—Sifra di-Tsni'uta (The Book of Concealment). This enigmatic and poetic composition contains a veiled description of God's body, focusing on the beard. Its few pages convey the central teachings of Kabbalah, including the balance between male and female energies, and how divine breath animates all that exists.
Sefer ha-Zohar (The Book of Radiance) has amazed and overwhelmed readers ever since it emerged mysteriously in medieval Spain toward the end of the thirteenth century. Written in a unique, lyrical Aramaic, this masterpiece of Kabbalah exceeds the dimensions of a normal book; it is virtually a body of literature, comprising over twenty discrete sections. The bulk of the Zohar consists of a running commentary on the Torah, from Genesis through Deuteronomy. This fourth volume of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition covers the first half of Exodus. Here we find mystical explorations of Pharaoh's enslavement of the Israelites, the birth of Moses, the deliverance from Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the Revelation at Mount Sinai. Throughout, the Zohar probes the biblical text and seeks deeper meaning—for example, the nature of evil and its relation to the divine realm, the romance of Moses and Shekhinah, and the inner meaning of the Ten Commandments. In the context of the miraculous splitting of the Red Sea, Rabbi Shim'on reveals the mysterious Name of 72, a complex divine name consisting of 216 letters (72 triads), formed out of three verses in Exodus 14. These mystical interpretations are interwoven with tales of the Companions—rabbis wandering through the hills of Galilee, sharing their insights, coming upon wisdom in the most astonishing ways from a colorful cast of characters they meet on the road.
This third volume of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition completes the Zohar's commentary on the book of Genesis. Here we find spiritual explorations of numerous biblical narratives, including Jacob's wrestling with the angel, Joseph's kidnapping by his brothers, his near seduction by Potiphar's wife, his interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams, and his reunion with his brothers and father. Throughout, the Zohar probes the biblical text and seeks deeper meaning—for example, the divine intention behind Joseph's disappearance, or the profound significance of human sexuality. Divine and human realities intertwine, affecting one another. Toward the end of Genesis, the Bible states: Jacob's days drew near to die—an idiomatic expression that the Zohar insists on reading hyperliterally. Each human being is challenged to live his days virtuously. If he does, those days themselves are woven into a garment of splendor; at death, they "draw near," enveloping him, escorting him to the beyond. Sefer ha-Zohar (The Book of Radiance) has amazed and overwhelmed readers ever since it emerged mysteriously in medieval Spain toward the end of the thirteenth century. Written in a unique Aramaic, this masterpiece of Kabbalah exceeds the dimensions of a normal book; it is virtually a body of literature, comprising over twenty discrete sections. The bulk of the Zohar consists of a running commentary on the Torah, from Genesis through Deuteronomy.
Sefer ha-Zohar, "The Book of Radiance," has amazed and overwhelmed readers ever since it emerged mysteriously in medieval Spain toward the end of the thirteenth century. Written in a unique Aramaic, this masterpiece of Kabbalah exceeds the dimensions of a normal book; it is virtually a body of literature, comprising over twenty discrete sections. The bulk of the Zohar consists of a running commentary on the Torah, from Genesis through Deuteronomy. This translation begins and focuses here in what are projected to be ten volumes. Two subsequent volumes will cover other, shorter sections. The Zohar's commentary is composed in the form of a mystical novel. The hero is Rabbi Shim'on son of Yohai, a saintly disciple of Rabbi Akiva who lived in the second century in the land of Israel. In the Zohar, Rabbi Shim'on and his companions wander through the hills of Galilee, discovering and sharing secrets of Torah. On one level, biblical figures such as Abraham and Sarah are the main characters, and the mystical companions interpret their words, actions, and personalities. On a deeper level, the text of the Bible is simply the starting point, a springboard for the imagination. For example, when God commands Abraham, Lekh lekha, Go forth... to the land that I will show you (Genesis 12:1), Rabbi El'azar ignores idiomatic usage and insists on reading the words more literally than they were intended, hyperliterally: Lekh lekha, Go to yourself! Search deep within to discover your true self. At times, the companions themselves become the main characters, and we read about their dramatic mystical sessions with Rabbi Shim'on or their adventures on the road, for example, an encounter with a cantankerous old donkey driver who turns out to be a master of wisdom in disguise. Ultimately, the plot of the Zohar focuses on the ten sefirot, the various stages of God's inner life, aspects of divine personality, both feminine and masculine. By penetrating the literal surface of the Torah, the mystical commentators transform the biblical narrative into a biography of God. The entire Torah is read as one continuous divine name, expressing divine being. Even a seemingly insignificant verse can reveal the inner dynamics of the sefirot—how God feels, responds and acts, how She and He (the divine feminine and masculine) relate intimately with each other and with the world.
The Zohar is the great medieval compendium of Jewish esoteric and mystical teaching, and the basis of the kabbalistic faith. It is, however, a notoriously difficult text, full of hidden codes, concealed meanings, obscure symbols, and ecstatic expression. This illuminating study, based upon the last several decades of modern Zohar scholarship, unravels the historical and intellectual origins of this rich text and provides an excellent introduction to its themes, complex symbolism, narrative structure, and language. A Guide to the Zohar is thus an invaluable companion to the Zohar itself, as well as a useful resource for scholars and students interested in mystical literature, particularly that of the west, from the Middle Ages to the present.
The first two volumes of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, translated with commentary by Daniel C. Matt, cover more than half of the Zohar's commentary on the Book of Genesis (through Genesis 32:3). This is the first translation ever made from a critical Aramaic text of the Zohar, which has been established by Professor Matt based on a wide range of original manuscripts. The extensive commentary, appearing at the bottom of each page, clarifies the kabbalistic symbolism and terminology, and cites sources and parallels from biblical, rabbinic, and kabbalistic texts. The translator's introduction is accompanied by a second introduction written by Arthur Green, discussing the origin and significance of the Zohar. Please see the Zohar Home Page for ancillary materials, including the publication schedule, press release, Aramaic text, questions, and answers. Further information on the Zohar: Sefer ha-Zohar, "The Book of Radiance," has amazed and overwhelmed readers ever since it emerged mysteriously in medieval Spain toward the end of the thirteenth century. Written in a unique Aramaic, this masterpiece of Kabbalah exceeds the dimensions of a normal book; it is virtually a body of literature, comprising over twenty discrete sections. The bulk of the Zohar consists of a running commentary on the Torah, from Genesis through Deuteronomy. This translation begins and focuses here in what are projected to be ten volumes. Two subsequent volumes will cover other, shorter sections. The Zohar's commentary is composed in the form of a mystical novel. The hero is Rabbi Shim'on son of Yohai, a saintly disciple of Rabbi Akiva who lived in the second century in the land of Israel. In the Zohar, Rabbi Shim'on and his companions wander through the hills of Galilee, discovering and sharing secrets of Torah. On one level, biblical figures such as Abraham and Sarah are the main characters, and the mystical companions interpret their words, actions, and personalities. On a deeper level, the text of the Bible is simply the starting point, a springboard for the imagination. For example, when God commands Abraham, Lekh lekha, Go forth... to the land that I will show you (Genesis 12:1), Rabbi El'azar ignores idiomatic usage and insists on reading the words more literally than they were intended, hyperliterally: Lekh lekha, Go to yourself! Search deep within to discover your true self. At times, the companions themselves become the main characters, and we read about their dramatic mystical sessions with Rabbi Shim'on or their adventures on the road, for example, an encounter with a cantankerous old donkey driver who turns out to be a master of wisdom in disguise. Ultimately, the plot of the Zohar focuses on the ten sefirot, the various stages of God's inner life, aspects of divine personality, both feminine and masculine. By penetrating the literal surface of the Torah, the mystical commentators transform the biblical narrative into a biography of God. The entire Torah is read as one continuous divine name, expressing divine being. Even a seemingly insignificant verse can reveal the inner dynamics of the sefirot—how God feels, responds and acts, how She and He (the divine feminine and masculine) relate intimately with each other and with the world.