“American Jewish Thought Since 1934: Writings on Identity, Engagement & Belief” Edited by Rabbi Michael Marmur ’92, Ph.D., and Rabbi David Ellenson ’77, Ph.D. - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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“American Jewish Thought Since 1934: Writings on Identity, Engagement & Belief” Edited by Rabbi Michael Marmur ’92, Ph.D., and Rabbi David Ellenson ’77, Ph.D.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

What is the role of Judaism and Jewish existence in America? And what role does America play in matters Jewish? American Jewish Thought Since 1934: Writings on Identity, Engagement & Belief, edited by Rabbi Michael Marmur ’92, Ph.D., and Rabbi David Ellenson ’77, Ph.D., considers these questions and offers a look at how the diverse body of Jewish thought developed within the historical and intellectual context of America.

Drs. Marmur and Ellenson bring together the distinctive voices of those who have shaped the bold and shifting soundscape of American Jewish thought over the last few generations. The contributors tackle an array of topics including theological questions; loyalty and belonging; the significance of halakhic, spiritual, and ritual practice; secularization and its discontents; and the creative recasting of Jewish peoplehood. The editors are careful to point out how a plurality of approaches emerged in response to the fundamental ruptures and challenges of continuity posed by the Holocaust, the establishment of the state of Israel, and the civil rights movement in the twentieth century.

Dr. Marmur, speaking for himself and Dr. Ellenson, observed, "It has been a fascinating process sifting through an enormous range of material, spanning over eighty years of North American Jewish Thought. We believe that this volume will provide anyone interested with American Judaism as it has evolved over the decades, and anyone concerned with where it may be heading in the future, with a useful grounding. We hope the book educates, challenges, enlightens, and infuriates."

This volume also includes a wide swath of the most distinctive currents and movements over the last eighty years: post-Holocaust theology, secular forms of Jewish spirituality, ultra-orthodoxy, American neo-orthodoxy, neo-Hasidism, feminism and queer theory, diasporist critiques of Zionism, and Zionist militancy. This collection will serve as both a testament to the creativity of American Jewish thought so far, and as an inspiration for the new thinkers of its still unwritten future.

This volume is published by Brandeis University Press and distributed by the University of Chicago Press, forthcoming June 2020. 

Rabbi Michael Marmur, Ph.D.Rabbi Michael Marmur '92, Ph.D., serves as Associate Professor of Jewish Theology at HUC-JIR's Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem. He previously served HUC-JIR as the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost until July 2018, and Dean of the Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem. In recent years, he has taught courses in Theology, Parashat Hashavuah, Homiletics, and Pluralistic Jewish Education. He is currently the Chair of the Board of Rabbis for Human Rights. He has published several popular and academic articles. He is the author of Abraham Joshua Heschel and the Sources of Wonder (University of Toronto Press, 2016). Born and raised in England, Rabbi Marmur completed a B.A. in Modern History at the University of Oxford before moving to Israel in 1984. While studying for an M.A. in Ancient Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he completed his studies in the Israel Rabbinical Program and was ordained in 1992. For six years following his ordination, he worked as rabbi and teacher at the Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa.

Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D.Rabbi David Ellenson ’77, Ph.D., serves as Chancellor Emeritus and I.H. and Anna Grancell Professor Emeritus of Jewish Religious Thought at HUC-JIR. He previously served HUC-JIR as President (2001-2013) and Interim President (2018-2019), following the death of former President Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., z”l. Internationally recognized for his publications and research in the areas of Jewish religious thought, ethics, and modern Jewish history, Rabbi Ellenson’s twelve years as President were distinguished by his devotion to sustaining HUC-JIR’s academic excellence and ensuring its financial sustainability. Rabbi Ellenson's extensive publications include Tradition in Transition: Orthodoxy, Halakhah and the Boundaries of Modern Jewish History (1989); Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer and the Creation of a Modern Jewish Orthodoxy (1990); Between Tradition and Culture: The Dialectics of Jewish Religion and Identity in the Modern World (1994); After Emancipation: Jewish Religious Responses to Modernity, which won the National Jewish Book Council's Award as the outstanding book in Jewish Thought in 2005; Pledges of Jewish Allegiance: Conversion, Law, and Policymaking in 19th- and 20th-Century Orthodox Responsa, co-authored with Daniel Gordis (2012), a Finalist for the National Jewish Book Council’s Award in Scholarship in 2012; Jewish Meaning in a World of Choice (2014). He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1981 and was ordained by HUC-JIR in 1977. He holds an M.Phil. degree from Columbia University as well as the M.A. degree from HUC-JIR and the University of Virginia.  He received his B.A. degree from the College of William and Mary in Virginia in 1969. A member of HUC-JIR’s faculty since 1979, he also held the post of Director of the Jerome H. Louchheim School of Judaic Studies at HUC-JIR’s Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, which provides the undergraduate Judaic Studies program for USC.

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