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21. Real Jews: Secular Versus Ultra-Orthodox:
22. Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish
23. Judaism and Homosexuality: An
24. On two fronts: Two brothers are
25. Tradition Orthodox Jewish Life
26. Of an apocalyptic tone recently
27. An Orthodox perspective.: An article
28. Religious Conflict in Social Context:
29. Contemporary Orthodox Judaism's
30. Seeking the Favor of God, Volume
31. Orthodox Jews in America (The
32. Heritage of Faith: 2 Pioneers
33. Yeshiva Fundamentalism: Piety,
34. Cosmopolitans and Parochials:
35. Halakhic Man, Authentic Jew: Modern
36. New York's Jewish Jews: The Orthodox
37. Toward a Renewed Ethic of Jewish
38. Tradition in a Rootless World:
39. The Hole in the Sheet: A Modern
40. Profiles in American Judaism

21. Real Jews: Secular Versus Ultra-Orthodox: The Struggle for Jewish Identity in Israel
by Noah Efron
Hardcover: 320 Pages (2003-05-27)
list price: US$27.50 -- used & new: US$11.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0465018548
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
An explosive book that documents in savage detail the war that is tearing Jewish Israel apart from the inside.

Most Americans would be shocked and disturbed to learn that the harsh rhetoric of virulent anti-Semitism is alive and thriving in Israel. Israel is a Jewish state, after all, so the anti-Semitism found there could hardly be aimed at all Jews. In fact, the Israeli brand of anti-Semitism pits secular Jews against fundamentalist Jews, the ones in traditional clothing following exacting religious rules.

Writing from his unique vantage as a Tel Aviv resident, Noah Efron examines the discomfiture and spleen that some secular Jews feel when confronted with their ultra-Orthodox brethren. He recounts the difficult history of the ultra-Orthodox in Europe and Palestine, and examines their role in Israel, a country obsessed with and conflicted about what it means to be a Jew. Despite political, economic, cultural, and religious reasons for the tension between the two groups, little can explain the ferocity with which the Orthodox are loathed today, or the shocking rhetoric that many secular Jews use to denounce and ridicule them.

This chilling and disturbing book documents the terrible details of an animosity based partly on fact and partly on a fantasy that threatens the future of Israel. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars Very eye-opening/ informative.
There is so much to absorb in this book that I will deal with a little of each of the aspects that I found the most interesting-- even if the words on paper seem a bit disjointed.

1. Efron's prose is fairly light and easy to read, but he does use quite a few $5 words. The book is not diminished by said words.

2. At last, an explanation of the existence of Neturei Karta! At last, an explanation of why there have been riots/ protests by Ashkenazi parents when their childrens' schools were opened to Sephardim. At last an explanation of why the divide between Secular and Orthodox Jews is so wide and why there is so much antagonism toward them.

3. Efron makes every effort to consider things from the perspective of the Haredim, and he separates himself from what I would expect of much Israeli popular opinion (which seems to often automatically demonize Haredim). He is very sympathetic and even-handed, though his points could have been stronger with more quantitative data. (For example, he could have looked up some concrete numbers to determine whether the net rate of change of Secular to Haredi was moving forward, moving backward, or very nearly static. There are Sociology Departments all over the place. This stuff has to be written down *somewhere*.)

4. The book was punctuated by Efron's speculation about certain things, and given the sheer volume of information (names, dates, relationships) these segues were welcome. And it is not like these segues were rambling. They were genuinely thoughtful. One example of this was his discussion for several paragraphs of what was the underlying logic of people who wore Che Guevara shirts and talks about Communist Revolutions of various types (that these things seem so far in the future and so unlikely that they merely serve as rallying points for people who need something to talk about). His comparison of the Haredi desire for a state that is a gigantic rabbinate to revolutionaries who desire a Communist State (i.e., both groups know that this result is at a point in time so far in the future as to make it seem dreamlike) was very prescient.

5. So much bitterness! It appears that the Jewish tendency to be aligned against the state and against the status quo and against tradition has nothing to do with any issue in their host country. Even in Israel, the single Jewish state in the world, there are a significant number of Jews that are against the status quo of *even that*!

6. I knew vaguely about Israel being a state with lots of coalition politics (as an American, the idea of a coalition-style government is something very remote to me), but Efron flushes it out with just enough detail to be informative but not so much as to be boring.

Possible improvements:

The book was broken up into 5 chapters and a conclusion over the length of 275 pages. That works out to about 46 pages per segment. The book would have read a bit more easily if it was broken into, say, 10 chapters and a conclusion. 23 pages is just about enough to digest in one sitting. And the chapters would have benefited from sub-headings.

This is very well worth the second hand purchase price.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent analysis and a very interesting read.
The topic requires a keen understanding of religious, political, social, ethnic, and geographic nuance.The author has these qualities as well as the ability to explain the religious-secular divide thoroughly and evenhandedly.Efron describes an unfortunate reality, but does it better than just about anyone else.Excellent read for anyone interested in why socio-religious divisions are so pronounced in Israel.

5-0 out of 5 stars A rarity in honesty, balance and thorough research
Efron offers what we cannot get in newspapers, tv or other media. Not in Israel and not abroad.
Efron brings to the forefront what might be Israel's biggest problem. But he does it with a tremendous sense of responsibility.
Although the Haredi society has few voices interested in presenting their side, Efron does more than being a speaker for them. He presents Haredi and secular sides with thorough research. He doesn't let himself be dragged into the vortex of hatred that blinds people on both sides.
This book helped me better understand Israeli society, the origins of the problems and the possible consequences.
About the only thing we don't see in this book is the light at the end of the tunnel, nor any suggestions on how to resolve it, but I guess that would probably: a) prevent him from being unbiased andb) Would require another book.

5-0 out of 5 stars fascinating
An excellent introduction to the many disputes between hareidi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews and Israel's more secular Jews.He explains the major concerns secularists have about hareidi behavior, and the pro-haredi responses to those critiques.The major areas of contention are:

1. Work and military service.Haredim are allowed to avoid military service, and often stay out of the workforce for most of their lives thanks to government support and foreign charity.But haredim point out that the Israeli military has no great need for unskilled manpower, and that haredim are less burdensome to the state treasury in many ways: they don't commit as many crimes (thus reducing the need for police and prisons) and they do not use a variety of government services oriented towards secular Jews (e.g. modern art, television and radio, all of which haredim tend to avoid).In addition, haredim bring money into the economy by attracting foreign charity, and consume and waste less than the general population.

2. "Infiltration" of secular neighborhoods.Haredim evangelize other Israelis, and secular Jews fear that once their neighborhoods are "taken over" by haredim, they will be pressured to conform to haredi rules in public.For example, secular Jews fear that roads will be closed off on Shabbat, and that women will be pressured to dress conservatively.But Efron points out that secular Jews often wish to prevent Haredim from building their institutions in secular neighborhoods, and that the haredi population is now simply too large to be limited to existing haredi enclaves.

3.Misuse of political power.Haredim occasionally engage in corrupt behavior, generally distrust Israel's courts, and occasionally engage in thuggish behavior. As a result, secular Jews worry about haredim are not committed to the rule of law or to Israeli democracy. Efron points out that political corruption in Israel is hardly limited to haredim; in fact, during the 1990s "almost a dozen secular politicians were indicted for corruption and betrayal of public trust, but almost none was convicted" - a fact that suggests that haredi politicians are victimized by a double standard.And (despite their often-intemperate language) haredim do obey the orders of Israeli courts.

4.Fear of a haredi "takeover" of the political system.Haredi parties typically hold the balance of power in Israel's parliament, and limit divorces and conversions through their power over rabbinic courts (which, under Israel law, govern life-cycle events for Jews). Efron points out that haredim don't always get what they want; according to him, "There is more commerce on Saturdays and holidays, unkosher food is everywhere . . . and so on."In other words, haredi political power is directed towards preserving the status quo rather than limiting the freedom of secular Jews.

In addition, Efron describes the history of the haredi/secular relationship.In the early 20th century, haredim were quite hostile to (mostly secular) Zionists.But even before the creation of the State of Israel, haredim began to warm up to Zionists, for a variety of reasons.First, in 1936, religious Zionists persuaded the Jewish Agency (a body assisting British colonial overlords with Jewish affairs)to establish religious councils to administer Jewish law; thus, haredi rabbis were eventually on the Zionist payroll. Second, during World War II, haredim needed Zionist assistance to help bring relatives to Israel.And after the state of Israel was established, haredim needed Zionist support more than ever.But the haredi/secular Zionist relationship began to deteriorate after Menachem Begin made a deal with haredi political parties in the 1970s: to gain their support, he removed the limit on the number of military exemptions available to haredi youth, thus contributing to some of the problems discussed above.

5-0 out of 5 stars An honest account
I was initially put off by the fact that Efron has some link to the disreputable Michael Lerner.However, as I read the book today, non-stop, Noah Efron emerges as quite an honest man and he gives a fair accounting of the relevant issues that separate Jews in Israel.

I happily recommend this book to all Jews, especially those on the Left with such a relexive and emotional distate for our Haredi brethren.If the secular extremists could only calm down, the rifts in our community could be healed.After all, peace among the Jews is a pre-requisite for peace between the Jews and the Arabs and peace among the Jews needs to be on terms with great relevance concerning Judaism.

I hasten to add one additional thought.Efron does not confront the issue of Jewish self-hatred head on.After all the examples of irrational hatred against the Haredi population by leftist Jews, self-hatred emerges as a clear phenomenon.It is a shortcoming of the book that Efron does not isolate this issue and it is clear that the kind of Jew who takes great merit in prayer and Torah/Talmud study cannot find it in himself to throw ugly bromides at Heredi Jews.It is only the kind of Jew who finds himself estranged from Judaism that can express such hostility.What could be worse for a Jew who has abandoned Judaism than some guy in a black hat emploring him to put on tefilin?Anger is therefore a revealing emotion and I have no doubt the nightmare for Heredi Jew is when no one cares any more.

I will continue to send money to the Haredi community of Israel and I am thankful for Mr. Efron in writing a basically fair-minded account.Without his family in B'nei B'rak, it is likely Efron would be just another leftist Jew.God willing, we should all search for our frum relatives and see ourselves through their gentle eyes.

... Read more

22. Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish Religious Radicalism (Chicago Studies in the History of Judaism)
by Aviezer Ravitzky
Paperback: 312 Pages (1996-09-01)
list price: US$26.00 -- used & new: US$22.71
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Asin: 0226705781
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

The Orthodox Jewish tradition affirms that Jewish exile will end with the coming of the Messiah. How, then, does Orthodoxy respond to the political realization of a Jewish homeland that is the State of Israel? In this cogent and searching study, Aviezer Ravitzky probes Orthodoxy's divergent positions on Zionism, which range from radical condemnation to virtual beatification.

Ravitzky traces the roots of Haredi ideology, which opposes the Zionist enterprise, and shows how Haredim living in Israel have come to terms with a state to them unholy and therefore doomed. Ravitzky also examines radical religious movements, including the Gush Emunim, to whom the State of Israel is a divine agent. He concludes with a discussion of the recent transformation of Habad Hassidism from conservatism to radical messianism.

This book is indispensable to anyone concerned with the complex confrontation between Jewish fundamentalism and Israeli political sovereignty, especially in light of the tragic death of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Original and Well Researched
Original and Well Researched. Best (maybe only) complete intellectual history of Jewish religious views towards Zionism.

5-0 out of 5 stars The ultra- orthodox view of the modern state of Israel
I read this work in the original in Hebrew. I was impressed by the depth of Ravitzky's knowledge of the ultra- orthodox world, and learned much about Haredi resistance to Zionism , a subject that had always perplexted me. And this because I praying daily the verse 'And return our eyes to Zion with mercy' always assumed that somehow to be religious meant to support a modern Jewish state in the land of Israel.
As I know Ravitzky's political position and bias ( He is a left- of center religious Zionist, ) I have a certain reserve about his writing about Habad , who are in the other camp completely.
But this is certainly a work worth reading, and even studying if one wishes to understand the variety of religious positions on the redemptive character and nature of the modern state of Israel.

4-0 out of 5 stars "The Messiah and the Rabbis"
It is a shame that such a truly critcal subject as the Jewish right and its Messianic pretensions, has at this point, only one good resource in English, and this is it. More specifically, The Ultra-Orthodox right, has found it's chronicler in Avi Ravitzky and his history of their Messianic throught. He provides a comprehensive historical summary of the Messianic idea, going all the way back to the Destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, then moves the discussion to the subjects of radical anti-zionism, religious zionism, contemporary Messianism in the various ultra-orthodox sects, and their continuing relavance in Jewish religious politics.

Especially important are the "Three Oaths" which the Rabbis developed to forestall Messianic Zionism, after 70 AD. These were so successful, they prevented Zionism from developing in times when it could have, and made the 20th century development of it much more difficult. However, the Three Oaths were only one strand of Jewish Messianic thought, which to a large degree still ignores the stupendous developments of the past 60 years as having no significance.

However, for this writer, the Holocaust and the birth of Israel, are exactly what would seem to an untrained observer: the arrival of the Messianic age. In my recent book, "Jewish History and Divine Providence" I provided an integrated Messianic view of Jewish history from a Liberal point of view. However, I begin from the point of view of Maimonides, whose messianic views were as sober and rational as the rest of his thought. In addition, the Kabbalah and its special rationality, is also critical in my analysis.

Ravitsky provides one side of the Messianic debate. However, until now a liberal side to this debate has been lacking. Those who read both Ravitzky and "Jewish History and Divine Providence" will get the full story.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sympathetic yet objective account
Aviezer Ravitsky has done great work covering the history and beliefs of the full spectrum of religious responses to Zionism. From those who believed that Zionism was evil because of its secular nature and attempt to replace Divine Redemption with political redemption, to those who believe that the establishment of the State of Israel was preparation for Divine Redemption. He explains the differing points of view in such an unbiased and understanding manner that you are left wondering who is right. This was a mind-bending trip, and in my specific case, greatly helped me understand the beliefs and concerns of the Satmar Hassidim, whom my family left behind two generations ago in Satmar.

5-0 out of 5 stars Focused More Upon Modern than Historic Jewish "Radicalism"
A superb scan of theologically hard-right sects within modern Judaism, with a suprising focus on the situation in the NYC area and American religious Jews generally. The book could benefit from a fuller treatment ofthe Orthodox view toward Zionism in the pre-state period, but this area isin fact addressed fairly well. It is surely an essential volume in anycollection pertaining to the history of Zionism. ... Read more

23. Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox View
by Rabbi Chaim Rapoport
Hardcover: 256 Pages (2004-05)
list price: US$55.00 -- used & new: US$47.13
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Asin: 0853035016
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Work
If you are Jewish (no matter what stream)and gay, you ought read this book. You will find much encouragement for yourself, and much "ammunition" with which to educate even your Jewishly well-educated acquaintances.

Anyone who works with Jewish homosexuals -- rabbis, rabbanim, mental health professionals, etc. -- is bound to gain insights and information from this splendid, well-done work.

If you are a *yodei sefer*, you will find that Rav Rapoport has learned the *sugya* well, and teaches it clearly. Reading/learning this *sefer* is simultaneously *limud Torah* and *chesed*.

4-0 out of 5 stars Does God Love Me?
Religion and Gays

Literary Pride--Amos Lassen

Rapoport, Rabbi Chaim. Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox View. London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2004.

A book that I recently came across interested me a great deal. Being a Jewish gay man, I wanted to know where I stood in terms of my religion--although to be quite honest, it didn't really matter. I had already formulated my dealings with religion and I had chosen the road that having been born a Jew, I would also die one and that was that. If any of you read my thoughts on the matter in my essay, "A Piercing Thought' then you know what I am talking about.

Rabbi Chaim Rapoport in "Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox View" explores the Jewish stance on homosexuality. In doing so, he combines the issues of traditional Jewish law with a deep understanding of the moral and philosophical trends in the world today. Surprisingly enough, he does not maintain a conservative view and advocates that the Jewish theologians and clergy must adopt a fair and balanced perspective. What he has done is present a fair study of religiosity and documents his thoughts so that should there be questions, one can also find the answers. His explanations are based upon values and traditional teachings and he gives a framework for co-existence. It is interesting to me to see an orthodox rabbi take such a liberal view and Rabbi Rapoport is a brave man to risk the challenges he will undoubtedly face. The two chapters which really provided a great deal of information for me were "The Nature of Homosexuality--A Jewish Perspective" and "Questions and Responses" in which the rabbi speculates on the questions that will be asked and answers them before hand.

5-0 out of 5 stars Useful for both Jews and Gentiles
This book has been acknowledged by leading Orthodox Rabbis as a groundbreaking effort to take into account the influences and impact of modern Western society. The author searches out all opportunities to apply sensitivity and caring while faithfully adhering to Torah Law ("halacha"). It is extensively researched and presents a most appropriate Orthodox response to this issue as it applies to Jews, but in doing so it probes the philosphical, moral, emotional, physiological and psychological dimensions of homosexuality which apply across the board.The book is valuable for arriving at the Torah Law perspective for today's Gentiles as well. The Noahide Commandments are brought into the discussion, and in numerous places the Torah Laws for both Jews and Gentiles are outlined and compared. The author is careful to delineate how the halacha applies for men and how it applies for women. He also includes relevant Chassidic teachings which are essential for full understanding and proper perspective. Some Orthodox critics have rushed to unwarrented criticisms of this book because they did not read it carefully and intelligently enough to understand the author's intricate analysis of homosexuality in the comparison with other Jewish prohibitions of the Torah, and that he does not, in the final analysis, suggest any deviation from established halacha. In particular the author underscores the fact that sensitivity on a personal level does not carry over into the grave phenomenon of factional and organizational attempts to legitimize a gay or lesbian lifestyle to society. The real-life "Questions and Responses" and voluminous footnotes add richness and depth for all readers.

2-0 out of 5 stars Poorly thought out
Rapoport has produced a comprehensive study of Judaism and its approach to homosexuality. While full of information and analysis, his conclusions are faulty:

1. Yes, the Torah lists forbids other types of sexual relations, such as with a menstruating woman. However, these relations are not singled out -- as male homosexuality is -- as the cause of societal ruin.
2. There is a very big difference between a married couple that does not follow the laws of family purity and a homosexual couple. For one, the no one can ever know if the laws are being followed in the case of the former, while the transgression is blatant in the case of the latter. More importantly, a man and woman who happen not to follow Jewish law in the these issues have not tampered with the essential concept of marriage. Homosexuals, male and female, do exactly that.
3. It is false to say that therapy is ineffective. JONAH, an organization that specializes in this field, has had many success stories.
4. The prohibition against homosexuality is definitely a mishpat, a rational law, and not a chok. There are many sources in the Talmud and midrashim that speak of the ruin that homosexuality brings to civil order.
5. The use of the principle of tinok shenishba is a pandora's box. We could use this argument to "understand" Jewish pedophile and incest.

I could go on but the point is clear. The writer has bought into the gay rights agenda.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly Done!
As an Orthodox rabbi, I applaud R. Chaim Rapoport's attention to halachic detail but also his recognition of the human aspect of this issue. With enormous sympathy, R. Rapoport describes the dilemma of the Orthodox Homosexual and tries to offer a religiously and psychologically sound course of action. This book will be THE definitive work on the subject. ... Read more

24. On two fronts: Two brothers are torn from each other by the struggle between Orthodox Judaism and the Reform movement in revolutionary nineteenth century Hungary : a novel
by Yirmeyahu Bindman
Hardcover: 142 Pages (1990)
-- used & new: US$5.99
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Asin: 1560620285
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25. Tradition Orthodox Jewish Life in America
by Mal Warshaw
 Hardcover: 118 Pages (1988-05-05)
list price: US$17.50 -- used & new: US$18.00
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Asin: 0805236376
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Old-School Photos
A collection of photos from 30 years ago. A beautiful collection of photographs from all aspects of Jewish life. The main focus is on Crown Heights Brooklyn and the Lubavitchers, though there are other photos too. Interesting to see how some things have changed, yet how much of Judaism is timeless. ... Read more

26. Of an apocalyptic tone recently adopted in Orthodox Judaism (Occasional paper / Dworksy Center for Jewish Studies)
by Tzvee Zahavy
 Unknown Binding: 16 Pages (1988)
-- used & new: US$25.00
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Asin: B00072FTQ6
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27. An Orthodox perspective.: An article from: Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought
by Tzvi Hersh Weinreb
 Digital: 11 Pages (2004-06-22)
list price: US$5.95 -- used & new: US$5.95
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Asin: B000ALSRBS
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Product Description
This digital document is an article from Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought, published by American Jewish Congress on June 22, 2004. The length of the article is 3119 words. The page length shown above is based on a typical 300-word page. The article is delivered in HTML format and is available in your Amazon.com Digital Locker immediately after purchase. You can view it with any web browser.

Citation Details
Title: An Orthodox perspective.
Author: Tzvi Hersh Weinreb
Publication: Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought (Refereed)
Date: June 22, 2004
Publisher: American Jewish Congress
Volume: 53Issue: 3-4Page: 169(7)

Distributed by Thomson Gale ... Read more

28. Religious Conflict in Social Context: The Resurgence of Orthodox Judaism in Frankfurt Am Main, 1838-1877 (Contributions to the Study of Religion)
by Robert Liberles
Hardcover: 295 Pages (1985-11-19)
list price: US$107.95
Isbn: 0313248060
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29. Contemporary Orthodox Judaism's Response to Modernity
by Barry Freundel
Paperback: Pages (2003-02)
list price: US$28.69 -- used & new: US$19.99
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Asin: 0881257788
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars an excellent guide to Orthodoxy...
explaining the basics and debunking myths that seem to be altogether too common (e.g. that Jewish law is 100% anti-abortion or 100% pro-abortion, or that Jews don't believe in an afterlife, that Jewish mysticism began with Kabbalah, or that the most traditional Jews are always the most pro-Zionist). Although once in a while Freundel mentions other Jewish movements, his tone towards non-Orthodox movements is reasonably respectful, and he writes much more about differences within Orthodoxy.

A few points I thought were especially noteworthy or surprising:

*The key difference between the Five Books of Moses and the rest of the Tanach: the first are sources of law, the second generally not.

*Freundel admits the existence of possible corruptions in the biblical text, noting that 8th-century scholars sought to correct such corruptions and that even now, there is a one-letter deviation between Ashkenazic and Sephardic versions of the Torah. But Freundel argues that any small errors in the text are "not legally consequential" because Judaism rejects literal interpretation of the Bible, and Jewish law is based instead on centuries of rabbinic analysis.

*Freundel asserts that Judaism is optimistic about man's capacities, and gives an interesting example of this: human cloning.Catholics oppose cloning because cloning constitutes "playing God in the work of creation" while many Orthodox Jews support cloning in principle because "becoming a partner with God in the works of creation" is essentially noble.A Protestant theologican argued against cloning in a Congression hearing because "people have a right not to be created in this way". By contrast, Freundel asserts that human existence is sufficiently noble that existence is better than nonexistence regardless of how it is created.

*Freundel's detailed explanations of the relationship between God and Evil.Unlike some fringe characters, Freundel rejects the notion that evil is always a punishment for sin (though of course it might be).Orthodox Jews have also endorsed other explanations, since as human free will, Divine self-limitation, evil as a challenge that humans were created to remedy, and possible compensation (to good people who suffer and bad people who do not) in the next world.

Freundel does occasionally lapse into overly technical language; he once asserts that Israel "is a cutting edge issue in the debate between more modern and yeshivish expressions of Orthodoxy."I suspect that many readers who are not Jewish or who grew up outside Orthodoxy won't understand what "yeshivish" means - but thankfully, such lapses are few and far between.

5-0 out of 5 stars excellent review of the origin of Jewish traditions
One of the things I like the most about this book is the way that Rb. Freundel shows the development of Jewish tradition and practices, and shows how the philosophy that makes up Judaism has changed over time. Particularly of interest are the ways in which he ties changes in Jewish thought to global changes in thought over time, and how the overarching idea of a given era affected Jewish views.

This book takes the approach of being a quick overview of a variety of topics rather than an in-depth study on any of them, but it still provides the reader with enough information to give them a cursory understanding of the selected topics. The footnotes and citations are part of the real wealth of this book - if you do want to do an in depth study on any of the topics the book deals with, those would be a good place to start.

5-0 out of 5 stars covers it all
it is amazing that in such short chapters rabbi freundel can do such a good job of showing the range of opinions in orthodoxy and demonstrate their relevance to modern problems.A must have for every jewish person's library.

5-0 out of 5 stars What Jews believe
For the uninitiated:

This book is a primer on the basic philosophies of Judaism.

Before a potential convert or person curious about Judaism reads "To Be a Jew" or other books about the basics of HOW to practice Judaism, he or she should read this book first. This kind of book is rare BUT NECESSARY first step of the thinking person's exploration of Judaism because it tells what Jews believe.

The only other book out there like it that I can think of is "Book of Our Heritage" by Kitov, but reading "Heritage" is already a pretty serious investment in study, usually made only by an avid reader. This book is an easier read but no less significant an achievement.

It is also different from "Heritage" in its approach. It is more straight on with a specific goal of saving the earnest intellectual who is curious about Judaism but confused - confused from all of the myths about Judaism, and popular schools of thought today which contradict or at least seem to contradict Judaism. In his way, the rabbi is trying to achieve a work which is not unlike what the Rambam was trying to do with Guide for the Perplexed and eliviate the confusion. This is an update to that idea for the current time and a much much easier read.

For the initiated:

The title of this book might scare some people away because it has the words "modern" and "contemporary", but it shouldn't. Although it is obviously written by a Modern Orthodox rabbi, it favors no particular hashkafah of Orthodox Judaism. If your kids are in Bnei Brock, they're not going to run out and go to the movies or become astronomers after reading this book, and modern kids aren't going to start keeping yashan either. Those who are learned will find this book has mostly basic material, but it is distilled and summarized in such a way which will clarify many things and make them clearer to us. Having said that, there are many things even the learned will learn from it.

From Publisher's Weekly
The International News Source of Book Publishing and Bookselling

February 23, 2004
Rabbi Barry Freundel. KTAV,Freundel, who counts former presidential candidate Joe Lieberman among his Washington, D.C., congregants, invites readers, Jewish and non-Jewish, to gain a better understanding of Jewish law, tradition and belief in his succinct but thorough analyses of 31 different topics crucial to Orthodox Judaism, such as teshuvah (repentance), Israel, prayer and Shabbat and Kashrut. Each chapter summarizes the central sources upon which the Halakhah (Jewish law) is based in clear, understandable terms and explains the development of the tradition as well as its practical application in today's world. Additionally, Freundel provides all the relevant Orthodox opinions on the matter, including those that he or the law ultimately rejects, and elucidates how and why Jewish law maintains its ancient positions even as modernity infringes on them. He does not shy away from or gloss over sensitive or controversial issues; instead he seems eager to take them on and debunk popular myths, including the widespread notions that Judaism considers women inferior and that Jews do not believe In an afterlife. Even though most chapters number only a few pages, his essays are accurate, entirely to the point, easy to finish without losing interest and convenient to pick up or put down at any time. Freundel's evident mastery of the vast breadth of materials within Jewish thought and law combined with his eloquent and cogent writing makes for an exceptionally worthwhile, inspirational and instructive work that no informed person should be without. (Apr. 21) ... Read more

30. Seeking the Favor of God, Volume 3: The Impact of Penitential Prayer beyond Second Temple Judaism (Early Judaism and Its Literature)
Paperback: 324 Pages (2008-10-29)
list price: US$39.95 -- used & new: US$35.04
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Asin: 1589833899
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31. Orthodox Jews in America (The Modern Jewish Experience)
by Jeffrey S. Gurock
Paperback: 400 Pages (2009-03-05)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$15.22
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Asin: 0253220602
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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"A great storyteller, Professor Gurock masterfully weaves together personal narrative, sermons, and social observations to create gripping narratives of Orthodox Jewry in America.... [Orthodox Jews in America] brings together several decades of Gurock's incisive research and thinking on American Orthodoxy while offering a still deeper and more nuanced analysis of its overall development." -- Shuly Rubin Schwartz, author of The Rabbi's Wife

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Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Examining Orthodox Life
Orthodox Judaism, both as individual practice and as community, has been a work in progress starting with Professor Gurock's wonderful opening chapter on a single observant man in colonial Manhattan.It remains a work in progress today as numerous subdivisions of people in modern dress and those attired only in black and white accept or decline the many opportunities that life in America affords.In between, there is a remarkable account of who came, why they came, tensions between how immigrants and native born Orthodox Jews adapted to what they found, and to the enduring institutions they created.

I found the book generally easy to read with straightforward sentence structure suitable for late high school or early college readers, though with the cadence too often interupted by words that were not part of SAT challenges, let alone customary vocabulary.The history follows chronologic order though there is an awkward transition from the post-World War II era to the current affluent times with little assessment of how the affluence occurred.Similarly some of the contemporary issues, notably the institutional adaptations to feminism or inconsistencies in dealing with misconduct within the Orthodox community, were not addressed nearly as thoroughly as those 19th and 20th century events that are more fully resolved historically.

Despite these relatively minor reservations, Orthodox Jews in America reflects a superior scholarly achievement and should find its place as required reading in many a college course on American Judaism.

5-0 out of 5 stars Orthodox Jews in America
A wonderful book. Jeffrey Gurock write an inclusive, insightful review of American Orthodoxy. In the process, he gives a thorough look at American Judaism in general. I recommend this without reservation.

3-0 out of 5 stars Proofreading anyone?
I'm 1/3 of the way through this interesting, if not particularly compelling, book. My comment would be that Indiana University Press has done a very poor job proofreading this volume. There seems to be an error (usually grammatical or in the tense of a word) on every page or two. I don't know if a book such as this will get a second printing, but the text needs to be carefully gone through to be corrected prior to it. And, as I'm unemployed at the moment, I'd be delighted to make an arrangement to be the proofreader.

4-0 out of 5 stars Relating
Gurock, Jeffrey S. "Orthodox Jews in America", Indiana University Press, 2009.


Amos Lassen

Orthodox Judaism in America has historically had problems with how to relate to non-Orthodox Judaism and we have seen that Orthodox Judaism has remained fervent in its belief that Judaism exists apart from the subjective experiences of individual Jews. Yet even with that, it is not so completely strict and naïve as to believe that all Orthodox Jews observe their religion in the same way. This is exactly the purpose of Jeffrey Gurock's scholarly study.
The major issue here is whether the idea of peoplehood crosses denominational lines because if this is so than hetero-Orthodoxy is permitted. The issue of modernity is also important. Is it possible to reconcile ancient Jewish/Hebrew texts with what is going on the world today? (Feminism is but one example). Can there be such a movement as "open Orthodoxy"?
The Orthodox community has never been able to reach a consensus about religious observance. The right wing demands complete and total adherence to Jewish law and in America this is a minority. Almost all congregations violate the Sabbath in some manner.
It is extremely interesting to see these ideas in print and of course these are some problems especially in the area of getting a consensus. Gurock does not look at two modern trends which tend to make wider the gap between Orthodoxy and the other branches of Judaism--conservative voting patterns and the influence the Orthodox have over policies in Israel. We are left to ponder what will be with Orthodoxy in the coming years.
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32. Heritage of Faith: 2 Pioneers of Judaism in America
by Nancy Isaacs Klein
 Hardcover: 119 Pages (1987-06)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$69.50
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Asin: 0881251194
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33. Yeshiva Fundamentalism: Piety, Gender, and Resistance in the Ultra-Orthodox World
by Nurit Stadler
Hardcover: 280 Pages (2009-01-01)
list price: US$39.00 -- used & new: US$31.51
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Asin: 0814740499
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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2009 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

The ultra-Orthodox yeshiva, or Jewish seminary, is a space reserved for men, and for a focus on religious ideals. Fundamentalist forms of piety are usually believed to be quite resistant to change. In Yeshiva Fundamentalism, Nurit Stadler uncovers surprising evidence that firmly religious and pious young men of this community are seeking to change their institutions to incorporate several key dimensions of the secular world: a redefinition of masculinity along with a transformation of the family, and participation in civic society through the labor market, the army, and the construction of organizations that aid terror victims. In their private thoughts and sometimes public actions, they are resisting the demands placed on them to reject all aspects of the secular world.

Because women are not allowed in the yeshiva setting, Stadler's research methods had to be creative. She invented a way to simulate yeshiva learning with young yeshiva men by first studying with an informant to learn key religious texts, often having to do with family life, sexuality, or participation in the larger society. This informant then invited students over to discuss these texts with Stadler and himself outside of the yeshiva setting. This strategy enabled Stadler to gain access to aspects of yeshiva life in which a woman is usually unable to participate, and to hear "unofficial" thoughts and reactions which would have been suppressed had the interviews taken place within the yeshiva.

Yeshiva Fundamentalism provides an intriguing — and at times surprising — glimpse inside the all-male world of the ultra-orthodox yeshivas in Israel, while providing insights relevant to the larger context of transformations of fundamentalism worldwide.While there has been much research into how contemporary feminism has influenced the study of fundamentalist groups worldwide, little work has focused on ultra-Orthodox men's desires to change, as Stadler does here, showing how fundamentalist men are themselves involved in the formulation of new meanings of piety, gender, modernity and relations with the Israeli state.

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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Look at an All Male World
Stadler, Nurit. "Yeshiva Fundamentalism: Piety, Gender and Resistance in the Ultra-Orthodox World", NYU Press, 2009.

A Look at an All Male World

Amos Lassen

The Yeshiva is a Jewish seminary and it is for men only so that they can focus on and study Jewish religious ideals which are quite fundamentalist. Nurit Stadler managed to accomplish what most women would consider impossible--she infiltrated the yeshiva and brings us news of what happens behind the walls.
One of the things she discovered was that some staunchly religious young men of the community want to change their seminaries to include some of the aspects of secular life. They want to redefine masculinity and transform the family. They want to be able to use the labor market, enlist in the army and build anti-terrorist organizations. They do not want to reject, as they have traditionally done, all of the secular world.
Stadler used only Yeshivot in Israel in her study but the major ideas that the seminaries adhere to are universal. Because women are not allowed in the holy places, she had to come up with some way to maintain a dialog with the men and this required creativity. She came up with a way to simulate what went on in the yeshivot by studying with an informant so that she could learn important religious texts--especially those that deal with family life, sexuality and the secular world. The informant would then invite yeshiva students over to discuss there texts with Stadler and himself in a place outside of the yeshiva. In this way Stadler was able to learn about life in the yeshiva in which a woman was forbidden to participate. She was able to hear unofficial ideas and reactions which otherwise might have been repressed because of setting.
This is possibly the first time that research of this kind has taken place in regards to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish aspect and to show a desire to change. Research also shows how several of these religious men are involved in a movement for change.
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34. Cosmopolitans and Parochials: Modern Orthodox Jews in America
by Samuel C. Heilman, Steven M. Cohen
Paperback: 258 Pages (1989-10-11)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$14.95
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Asin: 0226324966
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Far from simply vanishing in the face of modernity, Orthodox Jews in the United States today are surviving and flourishing. Samuel C. Heilman and Steven M. Cohen, both distinguished scholars of Jewish studies, have joined forces in this pathbreaking book to articulate this vibrancy and to characterize the many faces of Orthodox Jewry in contemporary America. Who are these Orthodox Jews? How have they survived, what do they believe and practice and how do they accommodate the tension between traditional Jewish and modern American values? Drawing on a survey of more than one thousand participants, the authors address these questions and many more.

Heilman and Cohen reveal that American Jewish Orthodoxy is not a monolith by distinguishing its three broad varieties: the "traditionalists," the "centrists," and the "nominally" orthodox. To illuminate this full spectrum of orthodoxy the authors focus on the "centrists," taking us through the dimensions of their ritual observances, religious beliefs, community life, and their social, political, and sexual attitudes. Both parochial and cosmopolitan, orthodox and liberal, these Jews are characterized by their dualism, by their successful involvement in both the modern Western world and in traditional Jewish culture. In painting this provocative and fascinating portrait of what Jewish Orthodoxy has become in America today, Heilman and Cohen's study also sheds light on the larger picture of the persistence of religion in the modern world.
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Customer Reviews (3)

3-0 out of 5 stars flawed but still somewhat interesting
This book uses a highly unscientific survey to divide a group of Orthodox Jews into "traditionalist", "centrist" and "nominally Orthodox" categories.Though the survey doesn't involve a truly random sample of Orthodox Jews (and thus does not create useful data) it still reminds us that (a) there are all kinds of ways to be Orthodox but (b) even "nominally Orthodox" Jews tend to be more observant than non-Orthodox Jews.

5-0 out of 5 stars One Traditional Subculture's Blueprint For Revival
While this book does have some minor shortcomings--such as a restricted sample and neglect of the "ultra-orthodox" wing of Judaism--I still give it five stars, in part because the authors have done us the rare favor of delving into the subject of how a traditionalist, religious subculture can not only survive but thrive in the midst of an alien dominant culture.It was not that long ago when assimilationist Jews and non-Jews alike were confidently predicting the inevitable demise of traditionalist Judaism...Yet at the same time there were other Jews who foresaw that the assimilationist or integrationist strategy could only lead to extinction.They imported traditional Jewish rabbis from the old country to lead their communities and funneled as many of their children as possible into Jewish religious schools, which the authors regard as decisive for traditionalism's unexpected success.Consequently, their faith remained sufficiently intense and their social cohesion and collective identity sufficiently strong to maintain birth rates comfortably above replacement level, high rates of religious observance, and low defection rates, even while their more secularized counterparts saw their birth rates plunge to a level persistently below replacementand their children begin to outmarry at a high rate.Not only did traditionalists defy the integrationists'confident prophecies of doom, but they seem to be growing even more traditional; that is, judging from the sample used for this book, the younger generation is actually *more* religiously observant than their traditionalist parents... Although the literary style of this academic treatise is dry, I very highly recommend it to anyone interested in the survival of embattled or endangered subcultures...

1-0 out of 5 stars fundamentally flawed study
This book presents itself as a sociological study of the Modern Orthodox Jewish population in North America. Included are discussions of this group's religious attitudes and values, its voting patterns, and its orientation towards American society and culture in general.

Unfortunately, this book's basic approach to the subject is so fundamentally flawed that you are more likely to be misinformed than to learn anything when you read it.

For one thing, the authors took almost half of their statistical data (490 responses out of 1023) from questionnaires answered by members of the Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan's Upper West Side, a truly vibrant congregation with dynamic adult education and outreach programs, but obviously not representative of the rest of Modern Orthodox community in New York, or anywhere else for that matter!

But the main problem lies in the categories of religious observance Heilman builds out of thin air, and upon which he bases his arguments. Most of the discussion focuses on a middle group of Modern Orthodox Jews, which Heilman confusingly terms the "centrists," despite the fact that he uses the very same term in other places to refer to the Modern Orthodox population as a whole. To make his middle category, Heilman groups people who are completely religious but still eat cold salad with non-kosher utensils (when visiting friends' homes) together with people who turn on lights on Shabbos. Heilman excludes members of this category from the "traditionalist" right-wing group merely because they will eat cold salad on non-kosher dishes, even though that act is often completely permissible even according to the strictest interpretations of Jewish law! We can understand why, as Heilman admits, many respondents found the survey's questions problematic and wrote lengthy notes to explain their answers. (Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that the book makes much use of their clarifications.)

The result of this is to create a large grouping which will necessarily appear ambivalent and divided over key issues of religious dogma and behavior. So it comes as no surprise when only 54% of this group "agree strongly" that "the Torah was revealed by God to Moses at Sinai"! And since Heilman doesn't give us any statistical breakdown within his made-up categories, it is impossible to know how many of the strictly observant do NOT feel strongly that the Torah was revealed at Sinai, and thus any useful inferences or insights that we might have drawn from the responses are lost and beyond retrieval.

Another general problem with the book: Although it is indeed true that members of the so-called Modern Orthodox community are likely to be less punctiliously observant than their "right-wing" brethren, Heilman seems to believe that all Orthodox Jews who actively engage and participate in wider American society are NECESSARILY ambivalent about basic Jewish law and theology. In many sections, he seems to confuse and lump together more strictly observant Modern Orthodox Jews with the "picturesque" ultra-right-wing Orthodox. It would seem that according to his categories, most of the theologians and scholars of Modern Orthodoxy wouldn't be considered Modern Orthodox.

The usefulness of the book is also severely limited because it doesn't even include the text of the questionnaire. (Although an appendix with the exact wording of the questions is promised in the text, none can be find anywhere in the volume!)

In conclusion, this book is simply not representative of the talents of Heilman, who is one of the world's leading sociologists of the American Jewish community. ... Read more

35. Halakhic Man, Authentic Jew: Modern Expressions of Orthodox Thought From Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits
by Ira Bedzow
Hardcover: 191 Pages (2009-06-01)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$14.00
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Asin: 9655240290
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Halakhic Man, Authentic Jew is a comparative study of the thought of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits about what constitutes a model Jew and the understanding and presentation of Halakha in a modern era. ... Read more

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This important and timely book is a must read for thoughtful laypersons and experts alike.In a world where "modern Orthodoxy" is increasingly regarded as an oxymoron at worst and anachronistic at best, the author brings his refreshing and erudite perspective to the writings of two of the most fascinating and revered Jewish thinkers of our era.Even for those already well acquainted with the ideas of Rabbi Soloveitchik and Rabbi Berkovits, his cogent analysis of their respective philosophies invites the reader to engage in a broader conversation about the way Judaism should be expressed - and lived - in the modern world.

In his discussion of the rabbis' view of the ideal Jew, Bedzow explores such concepts as tzelem Elokim, kavod, talmud Torah and the performance of the commandments, individual versus community, the chosenness of the Jewish people, and the roles of the land of Israel and Exile in the history of the Jewish people.His examination of halakha as a system of epistemology and ethics sheds new light on how we should properly approach and observe Jewish Law.

Drawing from an intriguing array of resources, including everything from the Torah, Talmud, and medieval Jewish thought to concepts in philosophy, mathematics, and literature. the author expresses himself in ways that excite the mind and challenge the soul.This book is long overdue, and is sure to be a catalyst for fresh thinking and lively dialogue.
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36. New York's Jewish Jews: The Orthodox Community in the Interwar Years (The Modern Jewish Experience)
by Jenna Weissman Joselit
Paperback: 208 Pages (1990-02-01)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$11.50
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Asin: 0253205549
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In this first interpretive historical account of the American Orthodox Jewish experience, Jenna Weissman Joselit investigates the ways in which pious Jews reconciled the requirements of religious tradition with the freedoms of interwar America. Through its focus on representative American Jewish institutions such as the synagogue and the rabbinate and on the sacred ritual life of Orthodox women, New York's Jewish Jews reveals how a self-consciously modern, American, and decidedly middle class Orthodoxy evolved before 1945.

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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars The birth of American modern Orthodoxy
An interesting study of modern Orthodoxy in the 1920s. In those days,Orthodox Jews tended to be less ritually strict than today, especially in affluent areas like New York's Upper East Side. Most Orthodox children attended public schools, and some rabbis discouraged the casual wearing of yarmulkes outside synagogue.

In the 1940s and 1950s, a tidal wave of haredi refugees from Eastern Europe (as well as the loss of more moderate congregants to Conservative Judaism) turned Orthodoxy towards a much more traditional posture.

And yet much of early modern Orthodoxy has survived today and even been adopted by more traditional elements among American Jewry: English-language sermons, day schools combining secular and Jewish education, outreach to less observant Jews.

Some of these steps were quite controversial at the time: for example, early in the century the constitution of one Orthodox shul provided that all members had to be Sabbath-observant, a rule overturned by a rabbi who said "Our job is to take non-Sabbath observers and to make them Sabbath observers."When Orthodox rabbis started to preach in English (as opposed to Yiddish), one eminent rabbi that it was better to leave a synagogue than to listen to an English-language sermon, asserting "If these practices will not cease, there is no hope for the continuance of the Jewish religion."But today, aggressive outreach and English-language sermons are common even among Hasidim.

4-0 out of 5 stars one small error
I read this book a few years ago and have recently had the opportutnity to perue through it once again.It is a well written and cogent piece of scholarship.It is however a little lacking in it's treatment of the veryvocal right wing of Orthodox Jewry during the relevant period, and is thusnot a comprehensive study. There is also one factual error which I wishto point out and correct.In chapter one of the book the author statesthat Cantor Zawel Kwartin was cantor in Temple Beth El in Borough Park,Brooklyn.Kwartin was not the cantor in Beth El, an Orthodox synagogue,but was the cantor on Comgregation Emauel, a conservative temple in thesame neighborhood.The chazanim at Beth El were: Jacob Rappaport,Mordechai Hershman, Berele Chagy, Moshe Kousevitsky, Sol Zim, Moshe Stern,Rueven Blum, and curently, Ben-Zion Miller. ... Read more

37. Toward a Renewed Ethic of Jewish Philanthropy (Orthodox Forum)
by Yossi Prager
Hardcover: 400 Pages (2010-05-19)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$29.92
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Asin: 1602801371
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The essential premise of this book is that recent decades have brought about social and economic changes within the Jewish community generally, and Orthodoxy in particular, that generate a need to revisit issues relating to Jewish charity and philanthropy. The collection of articles in this book, written for and discussed at the 2008 Orthodox Forum, attempts to provide the background for a renewed ethic of Jewish charitable giving by examining the current reality through the lens of sociology, history, Jewish public policy and halacha. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A scholarly and thoughtful read that discusses the good things that can be done with money from a Jewish perspective
Charity is not a Christian value alone; it holds its place in Judaism as well. "Toward a Renewed Ethic of Jewish Philanthropy" discusses the role of philanthropy in Orthodox Judaism and its purpose for Jews of many levels. From philanthropy at home, the community, the history of Jewish philanthropy, economics, dirty money, and more. "Toward a Renewed Ethic of Jewish Philanthropy" is a scholarly and thoughtful read that discusses the good things that can be done with money from a Jewish perspective.
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38. Tradition in a Rootless World: Women Turn to Orthodox Judaism
by Lynn Davidman
Kindle Edition: 268 Pages (1991-07-29)
list price: US$22.00
Asin: B003AU4DIW
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The past two decades in the United States have seen an immense liberalization and expansion of women's roles in society. Recently, however, some women have turned away from the myriad, complex choices presented by modern life and chosen instead a Jewish orthodox tradition that sets strict and rigid guidelines for women to follow.Lynn Davidman followed the conversion to Orthodoxy of a group of young, secular Jewish women to gain insight into their motives. Living first with a Hasidic community in St. Paul, Minnesota, and then joining an Orthodox synagogue on the upper west side of Manhattan, Davidman pieced together a picture of disparate lives and personal dilemmas. As a participant observer in their religious resocialization and in interviews and conversations with over one hundred women, Davidman also sought a new perspective on the religious institutions that reach out to these women and usher them into the community of Orthodox Judaism.Through vivid and detailed personal portraits, Tradition in a Rootless World explores women's place not only in religious institutions but in contemporary society as a whole. It is a perceptive contribution that unites the study of religion, sociology, and women's studies. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars nicely done and especially good for . . .
people who haven't been exposed to Orthodoxy very much.Just to sum up briefly: the modern Orthodox Manhattanites profiled tend to have busy but slightly empty lives, and are trying to fit their new religious commitment into those lives.Their rabbis tend to focus less on beliefs about Divine existence and desires than on the utilitarian virtues of plugging into the wisdom of a 2000-year-old tradition.The women in the Lubavitch "sleepaway" camp tend to be younger, suffering from very troubled lives, more focused on Divine will, and looking to make a major change in those lives (not surprisingly- since people with satisfactory jobs are usually going to be unable to take a month off). Their rebbes view Chasidism as these women's personal destiny, rather than as a freely chosen alternative. For those of you who are more familiar with Orthodoxy, the charm of this book lies in offhand points that the book makes in passing: for example, its implication that Orthodox triumphalism (that is, the idea that Orthodoxy is the future of Judaism) was far more rare in the 1980s, and that the Lubavitchers were struggling with the Messianic issue (that is, the issue of whether the Rebbe, may his memory be a blessing, was the Messiah) even then.

5-0 out of 5 stars As the author, I want to correct some misimpressions offered
I want to clarify some aspects of my book, TRADITION IN A ROOTLESS WORLD, that were left unclear by the first reviewer who wrote here.One is that the book does not focus on two synagogues in Manhattan but rather on onemodern Orthodox synagogue community in Manhattan and the other a live-inschool-cum-dormitory that is run by the Lubavitcher Hasidim in St. PaulMinnesota.The book has as its primary questions why contemporary womenare attracted to Orthodox Judaism and how that transformation isaccomplished through the interactions between the newcomers and theOrthodox (or Hasidic) institutions that they attend. I argue that each formof Orthodoxy has a particular approach to modernity that shapes all aspectsof the re-socialization process, which affects the type of woman attractedto each group, the way the group presents its teachings on Orthodoxy, andthe final outcome of the socialization process in each setting.The bookis comparative throughout and seeks to make clear to a lay audience whatthe attraction of traditional religious forms is for contemporary women whohave come of age since feminism. ... Read more

39. The Hole in the Sheet: A Modern Woman Looks at Orthodox and Hasidic Judaism
by Evelyn Kaye
 Hardcover: 219 Pages (1987-06)
list price: US$1.98 -- used & new: US$149.95
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Asin: 081840437X
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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The Hole in the Sheet is a provocative and outspoken view of Orthodox and Hasidic Judaism from a modern woman's perspective. This a passionate book, written by a woman who believes that the changes of the modern world should benefit both men and women, and that the male-dominated extremist religious groups are the major stumbling-blocks to a stronger and happier society. Written in a lively and personal style, The Hole in the Sheet presents a unique view of women and Judaism. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the all-time classic exposes of religious fanaticism
Evelyn Kaye, a renowned activist for excellence in children's television who was raised inside Orthodox Judaism, has written one of the all-time classic exposes of religious fanaticism in its rabbinic form. Such exposes appear regularly concerning Islamic women and the fanaticism they are subjected to in fundamentalist and tribal cultures, so presumably it is permissible for Judaism to come in for similar scrutiny.

Kaye analyzes thought control and thought police as they function inside Orthodox Judaism to the detriment of the mental, spiritual and emotional health of Judaic women.

Her most controversial section pertains to the "hole in the sheet" used during coitus in OrthodoxJudaism. Though this is heavily disputed by apologists, there is no question that the halachos of niddah and similar "family purity" laws, along with the misogyny inherent in the Gemaraand the dogma of Chazal, all contribute to an intolerable life of oppression for Orthodox Judaic women.

If you are interested in bettering the lives of Judaic women, obtain a copy of this well-written, objective and humane work of pioneering liberation.

1-0 out of 5 stars It's not true
The simple problem with this book is that it is a total lie. There is no such thing as a hole in the sheet in Judaism.Observant Jewish do not have sex seperated by a sheet.The rest of the book is also untrue.Trying to learn about Orthodox Judaism by reading this book is like learning about the Holocaust from a Holocaust denier.

1-0 out of 5 stars Thank God it's out of print
I stumbled on this book by accident while looking for some other books in the Judaism section of my university library my senior year.I decided to check it out, since it certainly looked interesting, to say the least.This book is a real page-turner and written in a lively manner, but so is Albert Goldman's 'The Lives of John Lennon,' and that book is just as trashy and blatantly untrue as this book, though at least TLOJL does have some truth buried under all of the sensationalism and wildly exaggerated stories based on unverified anecdotes.This book has even more problems in the truth department.

I myself used to be very anti-Orthodox, since I got my picture of that denomination from the crazy fanatics always in the media, flamers and hate-mongers on the Jewish Community boards on aol, and disgruntled women who'd left Orthodoxy, on those same boards.I never even really knew any Orthodox people until my senior year of college, though my opinion of them had been softening a bit before then.The people I knew, the Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Lubavitchers, Traditional Orthodox, etc., are nothing like the horrible people Mrs. Kaye says she grew up around.I'll give her the benefit of the doubt that she did have a terrible experience growing up, but could it be that adolescent rebellion or a drastic early adulthood break with all of the traditions she was raised with have coloured her perceptions and given her a false hindsight?None of the Orthodox I've known love embarrassing people, feel it is their duty to embue their kids with discomfort and insecurity, nor are they racists or sexists.This woman must not know that there are many Jews of colour, black, brown, yellow, tan, etc., and more of them than you'd think are born Jews instead of converts.She is perpetrating the old myth that only Ashkenazic Jews exist or count, ignoring the many Jews whose origins are not in Eastern or Central Europe but in Italy, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Algeria, China, India, South America, etc.She also claims that a devout Orthodox Jew violently hates all non-Jews and believes all manner of stereotypes about them, like they're all druggies, drunks, have horrible family lives, and are anti-Semites and untrustworthy.I'm sorry if she grew up in such a hateful self-imposed ghetto like she says she did, but you can't discredit all of Orthodoxy by just one bad experience, as awful as it was!She never even thought to try a different community or a different synagogue to see if she might have a more positive experience elsewhere.

I myself am not Orthodox, though I feel I have it in me to be if they resolve some of their issues about womens' roles, for example.I have had only very positive experiences praying, eating, celebrating, and spending time, sometimes overnight, with the Orthodox people I met at college.Mrs. Kaye obviously had the exact opposite types of experiences, but she grew up in the Forties and Fifties.I think pretty much women and girls everywhere in America had that type of coming of age experience in that era; Orthodox or not, girls nowadays have a lot more opportunities and aren't overlooked just because they're not boys.And Orthodoxy has changed a lot in the past 50 years or so; if Mrs. Kaye went back, and lived in a Modern Orthodox community, I'm sure she'd be shocked to find how well-educated the girls are, and how close they are to possibly having an Orthodox female rabbi within the next 50 years.

This book has a lot of anger in it, and seems to be written by someone who has unresolved issues.It would be like a book written by a rape survivor who attacks all men everywhere, or a book by someone who left Catholicism before Vatican II because the atmosphere was too stifling for him/her.It's not that your issues aren't real and painful, just that you should discuss them with a counselor instead of publishing them in a book before you've even tried to move past your awful past.Mrs. Kaye can't stop spouting off lies and inaccuracies, being sarcasm and venomous, using superfluous exclamation points and capital letters, or putting words in people's mouths.She thinks that women who say taharat hamishpacha (family purity) don't really feel like brides again and are only saying the exact same words the rabbis have told them to say.So then all of these women are lies with no minds of their own.She doesn't explain the true reasoning behind the morning blessing thanking God for not having made one a woman (it's very misunderstood, and I myself amn't keen on it, but it's not meant as a sexist insult).She thinks only the Orthodox keep kosher, are shomer Shabbos and Yom Tov, clean the house for Pesach, or live any kind of observant life.If she wants people to respect her decision to intermarry, be Reform, and completely abandon all Jewish traditions, she should respect people on the exact opposite of the spectrum.On more than one occasion she completely insults the entire Talmud, and seemingly is ignorant to the fact that not all opinions are that of major rabbis, and if they are, no one opinion is meant to be taken as the only truth, such as on medical views of the time.That's like wondering why President Washington was bled to death and his doctors laughed at the young doctor who wanted to do a tracheotomy; you're unfairly holding a different era to a modern standard and all of the hindsight and knowledge which has occured since then.Most insulting of all is that she just can't believe any thinking woman would want to be Orthodox or Hassidic and is a brainwashed liar parroting what men have told her to say, and that these women have given up their minds and are living like ignorant peasant women in isolated African villages.God forbid an intelligent modern woman should see the beauty in an Orthodox life and decide to join them, and still be a feminist while living a traditional Jewish life.She is ignorant to the fact that the ketubah is insurance against a bad husband and is much fairer to women than practically every other culture at the time was to women.And the list goes on and on.

Mrs. Kaye sadly doesn't want to leave her preconceived ideas behind her and actually listen to what the other side has to say, without already having her mind made up they're crazy, sexist, or parroting the rabbis.Like Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

1-0 out of 5 stars Your Daily Dose of Anti-Judaism?
(this is another where I *would* give zero stars, if I could)

I would normally hesitate to dismiss any person's life story as having NO merit, but "The Hole in the Sheet" is going to be the exception.This book confused and saddened me.The sections of memoir are painfully authentic, but the degree of vitriol in the rest of the book is frightening.

When I picked it up, I expected a scholarly work, with at least some reasoning and argumentation.Instead, Kaye rambles on hatefully, extrapolating a vast web of all-male conspiracy from just her own upbringing within one particular Jewish family.I mean, I'm sorry her experience was so awful -- but only the most twisted mind could really blame the world's oldest monotheism, the source of all our society's morality, for all the evils Kaye charges it with.

Don't forget, it is SHE, not the men of the Talmud or the Shulchan Aruch, who writes Jewish women out of the picture -- by making the assumption that our foremothers in Europe (and farther back) had no hand in forging the religion we have inherited from them.Judaism has always been in the forefront of women's rights, though it may prioritize those rights differently from Kaye.Women in Judaism are more than just careers; instead, Judaism honours foremost our role as bearers of life.

This book has become required reading for antisemites, a frightening reminder of how the eyes of the world are still on us, waiting for any sign of evil beneath the surface.One antisemitic website refers to "the Jewess Evelyn Kaye" and the conclusive "proof" she provides of Judaism's ultimate deception.While such lunacy may keep Kaye's book in print, I can only hope this isn't the audience she envisioned when writing her book.

I pray that Kaye has somehow been able to reconcile her troubled past with the genuine worth and wisdom that Judaism has been able to offer so many, and that she's found contentment in her own life.Even that, however, cannot undo the damage this book has done.

5-0 out of 5 stars A MUST for women (and men) of all religious persuasions
As women have been so repressed for centuries, it is essential that they now begin to recognize the origins of these tactics.It is time for all women--and men as well, for they are victims of the same malicious action--to take a look at a most remarkable book that displays the insidiousness of these patriarchal teachings which has its roots in the Judeo-Christian "ethics" of old.My hearty congratulations to Ms. Kaye, the author, who has displayed a remarkable insight in establishing a truth--even though there are those who may still choose to disbelieve it, and remain in denial as to its effects. ... Read more

40. Profiles in American Judaism
by Mark Raphael
 Paperback: Pages (1988-07)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$69.95
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Asin: 0060668024
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Informations about the book.
Does Judaism have denominations similar to those found in Christianity? The answer to this perplexing question could clarify many enigmas for the students of Judaism, be they Jewish or Gentile. Marc Lee Raphael, a Reform rabbi and currently Professor of History and Director of the Melton Center for Jewish Studies at Ohio State University, provides insight into the labyrinth of American Judaism through his study of the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Reconstructionist traditions. To a certain extent, the gamut of Jewish beliefs and practices ranging from the non-Zionist, separatist Satmar Hasidim on the right to the agnostic, Polydox Reformers on the left rivals the polarity within Christianity. But, on the other hand, there is a certain spirit of communality among the majority of Jews encompassing support for Israel and a fear of anti-Semitism which suggests that unity rather than sectarianism is a characteristic of Judaism. Utilizing a variety of primary sources, the author traces the evolution of the various movements in Judaism from their European antecedents through their latest developments in America, analyzing ideologies, institutions, and personalities. From: theologytoday... website. ... Read more

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