Judaism in Contemporary Context
The essays collected here form a contribution to a half-century of Jewish public life. From the 1950s to the present day, Jacob Neusner has served as one of the public intellectuals of the English-speaking community of Judaism. The essays, beginning a half-century ago and continuing to the present day, claim a hearing for two reasons. First, the issues persist for a new generation to confront. Second, there is the story of a generation now passing that remains to be told. The essays collected here form a contribution to the narrative. These concern both Judaism the religion viewed in its own terms, and also Judaism the amalgam of religious and ethnic components viewed in the political setting of the Jewish People, with special reference to the English-speaking component of that People. These enduring issues are captured by the words 'Holocaust' and 'State of Israel'. The impact of the Holocaust has defined the condition and consciousness of world Jewry from the Second World War onward. For not a few it takes the place of Judaism. So too, the State of Israel and Zionism define paramount parts of that amalgam, and for many these two substitute for Judaism. The Holocaust, Zionism, and the State of Israel represent claims upon the consciousness and conscience of the diaspora that none would contemplate dismissing. Neusner has spent the last 50 years engaging with the perennial issues that Judaism confronts, which remain as relevant in the twenty-first century as ever.
Publication Date: 3/1/2007