Hebrew Union College (HUC) Press is proud to announce the publication of two books, The Book of Job in Jewish Life and Thought: Critical Essays by Jason Kalman, Ph.D., and Lobbying for Equality: Jacques Godard and the Struggle for Jewish Civil Rights during the French Revolution by Gerard Leval. HUC Press is internationally recognized for the publication of peer-reviewed scholarship across the spectrum of Jewish studies, from ancient and modern.
Dr. Jason Kalman, Co-Director of HUC Press and Professor of Classical Hebrew Literature and Interpretation and Gottschalk-Slade Chair in Jewish Intellectual History at HUC, shares an anecdote:
“Speaking to an audience at Hebrew Union College in February 1968, Nahum Glatzer quipped: ‘An author wrote a commentary on Song of Songs and took it to a rabbi for an approbation before presenting the material to the publisher. The rabbi looked at the commentary on Song of Songs and said to the author, ‘You should have written a commentary on the Book of Job.’ The author inquired, ‘Well, do you really think I am qualiﬁed to write a commentary on the book of Job?’ The rabbi replied, ‘No, I didn’t mean that, but the Song of Songs is so lovely, so tender, you should leave it alone. Job has suﬀered so much, he’ll suﬀer your commentary.’”
Despite its general absence from the Jewish liturgical cycle and its limited place in Jewish practice, the Book of Job has permeated Jewish culture over the last 2,000 years. Job has not only had to endure the suﬀering described in the biblical book, but the eﬀorts of countless commentators, interpreters, and creative rewriters whose explanations more often than not challenged the protagonist’s righteousness in order to preserve Divine justice. Beginning with ﬁve critical essays on the speciﬁc eﬀorts of ancient, medieval, and modern Jewish writers to make sense of the biblical book, this volume concludes with a detailed survey of the place of Job in the Talmud and Midrashic corpus, in medieval biblical commentary, in ethical, mystical, and philosophical tracts, as well as in poetry and creative writing in a wide variety of Jewish languages from around the world from the second to sixteenth centuries. This publication is available for purchase here.
Gerard Leval’s book examines how the French Revolution brought the promise of equality to many oppressed groups living in France. French Jews, long persecuted and considered to be a separate nation, sought to benefit from the new freedoms promised by the Revolution. To this end, Jewish leaders engaged the services of a 27-year-old Catholic lawyer named Jacques Godard, who had previously defended a slave seeking his freedom, a Protestant defending his property rights, and other disadvantaged individuals. As the official lawyer and lobbyist for the Ashkenazi French Jewish community, Godard ultimately persuaded the Paris Municipal Assembly to become an important advocate in favor of equal rights for Jews, and, within two tumultuous years, the campaign for Jewish equality achieved its goal: Jews became equal citizens of France. This inspiring story, set during the dramatic years of the Revolution, shows how one determined individual can be a catalyst for lasting and meaningful change. Gerard Leval has performed an important service by describing the life of a young man who lived more than two hundred years ago and fought for causes for which we still struggle today. This publication is available for purchase here.