Jewish Preaching in Times of War, 1800 - 2001

BookJewish Preaching in Times of War, 1800 - 2001

Jewish Preaching in Times of War, 1800 - 2001

Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

2012

August 31st, 2012

£23.95

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'In this rich collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century sermons, Marc Saperstein demonstrates both the enduring rhetorical power of Jewish preaching and the value of the sermon as window onto Jewish history . . . a compelling selection . . . He argues persuasively that Jewish preachers often found themselves confronted with the challenge of interpreting difficult moral and political questions for their congregations but that these questions took on particular urgency in moments of military conflict . . . In reading through this provocative collection of British and American sermons there are times when one wishes for more . . . Given the value of the material Saperstein presents here, one can only hope that other such studies will follow.'
- Jessica Cooperman, American Jewish Archives Journal

'Sermons brilliantly anthologized by Marc Saperstein . . . rich collection. The very nature of the book's core source material—originally addressed to the Jewish masses—renders this book eminently accessible and of natural interest to a very broad readership. At the same time, Saperstein's extensive historical introductions to each of the sermons, along with his erudite annotations of these texts, will be of enormous value to scholars of modern Jewish theology and history.'
- Allan Nadler, Forward

'Students and scholars of the history of preaching will find it invaluable. The footnotes and introductions that comprise nearly half the book are a scholarly tour de force and the 72-page Introduction to the book as a whole is a riveting overview of elements of Jewish preaching in America and Great Britain and a stunning example of the use of sermons as data in a broader history of the intersection between religious groups and civic life.'
- Margaret Moers Wenig, Homilectic

'Immensely readable . . . a pioneering contribution to the social, religious, and political history of Anglo-Jewry.'
- Jeffrey Cohen, Jewish Chronicle

'Probably the world's greatest expert on Jewish homilectics from the medieval period onwards . . . wide-ranging preface . . . Following a magisterial introduction comne the sermons, each one introduced, explained, and discussed as well as sensitively and helpfully annotated. The selections is acute and the sermons themselves potent and highly readable.
- www.Middleburgh.co.uk

'Marc Saperstein has virtually created a new field of Jewish studies: the scientific study of sermons . . . for having brought together, across the denominational lines that usually separate them, some of the great voices of the past and for having studied their word carefully, both in terms of their context and in terms of what they have to say to us today, we owe Saperstein our gratitude. he has made a genuine contribution to the study of a little-known field of Jewish scholarship.'
- Jack Riemer, Palm Beach Jewish Journal

Wartime sermons reveal how Jews perceive themselves in relation to the majority society and how Jewish and national values are reconciled when the fate of a nation is at stake. They also illustrate how rabbis guide their communities through the challenges of their times. The sermons reproduced here were delivered by American and British rabbis from across the Jewish spectrum—Orthodox to Liberal, Ashkenazi and Sephardi—from the Napoleonic Wars to the attacks of 9/11. Each sermon is prefaced by a comprehensive introduction explaining the context in which it was delivered. Detailed notes explain allusions unfamiliar to a present-day readership and draw comparisons where appropriate to similar passages in contemporary newspapers and other sermons. A general introduction surveys more broadly the distinctive elements of modern Jewish preaching—the new preaching occasions bound up with the history of the countries in which Jews were living; new modes for the dissemination of the sermons (printed pamphlets and the Jewish and general press), and the emergence of women’s voices from the pulpit. It also surveys the distinctive themes of modern Jewish sermons, including responses to Jewish suffering, social justice, eulogies for national leaders, Zionism, and war. What Jewish religious leaders said to their congregations when their countries went to war (or, in some cases, were considering going to war) raises questions of central significance for both modern Jewish history and religious thinking in the civic context. What evidence do these sermons present concerning the degree of patriotism felt by Jews? Where and when do we find examples of dissent from the policies taken by their governments, or explicit criticism? What theological problems are raised by the preachers in the context of unprecedented and unimagined destruction, and how do they respond to these problems? How is the enemy presented in these texts? How is the problem of Jews fighting and killing other Jews addressed? Are the preachers functioning to articulate traditions that challenge the consensus of the moment, or as instruments of social control serving the needs of governments looking for unquestioning support from their citizenry? In all these areas, this book makes an important contribution to the American- and Anglo-Jewish history of this period while also making available a collection of mostly unknown Jewish texts produced at dramatic moments of the past two centuries.

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About The Author

Marc Saperstein is Professor of Jewish Studies at King's College London, and Professor of Jewish History and Homiletics at Leo Baeck College, London, where he formerly served for five years as Principal. He is the author of several books, and is widely recognized as the leading authority in this generation on the history of the Jewish sermon in medieval and modern times.