Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D.: "All The World: Universalism, Particularism and the High Holy Days (Prayers of Awe)"

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rosh Hashanah is just one of two surviving Jewish new years from antiquity, the other being the month in which Passover falls. The two are exactly six months apart, proper symbolism of the age-old Jewish struggle to balance two contrasting principles: universalism and particularism. Passover's central theme is the particularistic tale of the Jewish People released from servitude in Egypt to fulfill its historic destiny. The message of Rosh Hashanah, by contrast, is the universalistic definition of that destiny, the role that every Jew must play simply by virtue of being human, and the role of Judaism in helping Jews play that role with proper passion and commitment.

Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D.'s All The World: Universalism, Particularism and the High Holy Days (Prayers of Awe) (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2014) combines the particularistic concern for Israel as a People called by God with the universalistic proclamation that Israel is called for universal ends. It assembles some forty contributors scholars, rabbis, artists and thinkers from Canada, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, the UK and USA to launch the crucial discussion of what the High Holy Days have to say about universalism and particularism in Judaism.

Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman has written or edited forty books, including My People's Prayer Book (Jewish Lights Publishing), a ten-volume edition of the Siddur with modern commentaries, which was named a National Jewish Book Award winner for 2007. His Rethinking Synagogues: A New Vocabulary for Congregational Life (Jewish Lights Publishing) and his Art of Public Prayer (Skylight Paths) are widely used by churches and synagogues as guides to organizational visioning and liturgical renewal. In 2011, he received a second National Jewish Book Award for co-authoring Sacred Strategies: Transforming Synagogues from Functional to Visionary (Alban Institute).

His articles, both popular and scholarly, have appeared in eight languages and four continents, and include contributions to such encyclopedias as The Macmillan Encyclopedia of Religion, The Oxford Dictionary of Religion, The Encyclopedia of Judaism and The Encyclopedia of Religion in America. He syndicates a regular column which appears, among other places, in The Jewish Week and The Jewish Times; and writes a blog entitled "Life and a Little Liturgy."

Rabbi Hoffman teaches classes in liturgy, ritual and spirituality, as well as theology and synagogue leadership. 

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu