Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Is All American Jewish Thought Included? On a New Book

Brandeis University Press has published American Jewish Thought Since 1934: Writings on Identity, Engagement and Belief,  edited by Michael Marmur and David Ellenson

The editors sought to respond to two major questions:

What is the role of Judaism and Jewish existence in America? and what role does America play in matters Jewish? 

They assert their anthology offers a look at how the diverse body of Jewish thought, with its distinctive voices, developed within the historical and intellectual context of America. Those are the voices of those who have shaped the bold and shifting soundscape of American Jewish thought over the last few generations. 

I reproduce the entire Contents below*.

There is one Hassidic Rebbe: Yoelisch Teitelbaum, the fiercist critic of Zionism in the 20th century but I would suggest he was singularly unrepresentative of American Jewish thought as that book represents a theological philosophy developed in north-eastern Hungary and brought to America unchanged.

Zalman Shachter is in the book but he is neo-Hassidic.

I do not see Menachem Mendel Schneerson nor any other Hassidic Rebbe. Nor Aaron Kotler or any other Ultra-Orthodox Rosh Yeshiva or thinker.

I think that is exclusionary discrimination especially in taking stock of where American Orthodox Judaism was in the first half of the 20th century and where it is - and is going to - in this century. There is Eliezer Berkovits, twice but no Norman Lamm. No Avi Weiss or Shlomo Rikin. True, Yitz Greenberg and his wife Blu are in. Joseph Soloveitchik is in and his son-in-law Aharon Lichtenstein who had been in Israel since 1971 but no one truly representative of the Yeshiva world, the Hareidi community. Nothing could be found in Tradition? Or Edah? Jeffrey Gurock's book could not provide any names?



1. GOD


1. Mordecai Kaplan, The Future of the American Jew

2. Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man Is Not Alone

3. Hans Jonas, “The Concept of God After Auschwitz: A Jewish View”

4. Richard L. Rubenstein, After Auschwitz

5. Eliezer Berkovits, Faith After the Holocaust

6. Erich Fromm, You Shall Be As Gods

7. Marcia Falk, “Notes On Composing New Prayers: Toward a Feminist-Jewish Reconstruction of Prayer”

8. Edward L. Greenstein, “A Critique of Impersonal Prayer”

9. Sandra B. Lubarsky, “Reconstructing Divine Power”

10. Rebecca Alpert, “Location, Location, Location: Toward a Theology of Prepositions”



1. Marvin Fox, The Condition of Jewish Belief

2. Aharon Lichtenstein, The Condition of Jewish Belief

3. Will Herberg, Judaism and Modern Man

4. Jakob J. Petuchowski, “Revelation and the Modern Jew”

5. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man

6. Benjamin H. Sommer, Revelation and Authority

7. Tamar Ross, Expanding the Palace of Torah

8. Eugene B. Borowitz, Renewing the Covenant

9. Susan Handelman, “ ‘Crossing and Recrossing the Void’ ”

10. David Novak, “Is the Covenant a Bilateral Relationship?”

11. Mara Benjamin, The Obligated Self

12. Rachel Adler, Engendering Judaism



1. Arnold Jacob Wolf, “Against Spirituality”

2. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man.

3. Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath

4. Arthur Green, Jewish Spirituality / Seek My Face, Speak My Name

5. Daniel C. Matt, God and the Big Bang

6. Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Paradigm Shift

7. Marcia Prager, The Path of Blessing

8. Nancy Flam, “Healing the Spirit”

9. Arthur Waskow, Down-to-Earth Judaism

10. Sheila Weinberg, “Images of God: Closeness and Power”



1. Michael Fishbane, Sacred Attunement

2. Steven Kepnes, The Future of Jewish Theology

3. Jose Faur, Golden Doves With Silver Dots

4. David Hartman, A Heart of Many Rooms

5. Leo Strauss, “Jerusalem and Athens”

6. Hannah Arendt, “The Jew as Pariah”

7. Michael Walzer, Exodus and Revolution

8. Mitchell Cohen, “In Defense of Shaatnez”

9. Jill Jacobs, There Shall Be No Needy

10. Meir Kahane, “Down With Chanukah!”



1. Jacob Neusner, Stranger At Home

2. Joel Teitelbaum, Vayoel Moshe

3. Emil L. Fackenheim, The Jewish Return Into History and other excerpts

4. Eliezer Berkovitz, Faith After the Holocaust

5. David R. Blumenthal, Facing the Abusing God

6. Irving Greenberg, “The Ethics of Jewish Power Today”

7. Marc H. Ellis, Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation

8. Judith Butler, Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism

9. Ruth R. Wisse, Jews and Power

10. Daniel Boyarin & Jonathan Boyarin, “Diaspora”

11. Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism

12. Editors of Commentary, “The Existential Necessity of Zionism After Paris”

6. FEMINISM, GENDER and Sexuality


1. Susannah Heschel, On Being a Jewish Feminist

2. Cynthia Ozick, “Notes Toward Finding the Right Question”

3. Judith Plaskow, “The Right Question is Theological”

4. Blu Greenberg, On Women and Judaism

5. Rachel Adler, “I’ve Had Nothing Yet So I Can’t Take More”

6. Julia Watts Belser, “Making Room for the Divine She”/ “Privilege and Disaster”

7. Steve Greenberg, Wrestling With God and Men

8. Jay Michaelson, God vs. Gay?

9. Benay Lappe, “The New Rabbis”

10. Jane Rachel Litman, “Born To Be Wild”

11. Joy Ladin, The Soul of the Stranger



1. Mordecai Kaplan, The Future of the American Jew

2. Simon Rawidowicz, “Israel: The Ever-Dying People”

3. George Steiner, “Our Homeland, The Text”

4. Arthur A. Cohen, Jewish Theology

5. Michael Wyschogrod, The Body of Faith

6. Judith Plaskow, Standing Again at Sinai

7. Shaul Magid, American Post-Judaism

8. Steven M. Cohen & Jack Wertheimer, “What Is So Great About Post-Ethnic Judaism” / “Whatever Happened to the Jewish People”

9. Arthur Hertzberg & Paula Hyman, Jewish Peoplehood: Where Do We Go From Here?

10. Dianne Cohler Esses, “A Common Language Between East and West”

11. Lewis Gordon, In Every Tongue

12. Noam Pianko, Jewish Peoplehood: An American Innovation


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