American Jewish Thought Since 1934: Writings on Identity, Engagement, and Belief
Edited by Michael Marmur and David Ellenson
An exciting kaleidoscopic book about the Jewish experience in America—beginning with the optimism, rationalism, and naturalism of Reconstructionism, and ending today with the conflicted debates about Israel, the Holocaust, gender, and the possibility of creating a vital American Jewish identity for tomorrow.
—Warren Zev Harvey, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Preeminent scholars Ellenson and Marmur have both defined and expanded the canon with diverse voices exploring the biggest ideas in American Jewish thought. An essential addition to every Jewish library.
—Rabbi Angela W. Buchdahl, Central Synagogue
Marvelous for teaching, for learning. A wealth of modern Jewish thought to enrich the reader and evoke new reflections and directions.
—Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple
This display of erudition and all-round excellent portrayal of Jewish thought will provide much material for further examination and reflection for Jewish communities and by non-Jewish groups for a better understanding of American Judaism....Well recommended for a full appreciation of modern Jewish thought.
—Sanford R. Silverburg, Catawba College
Many selections from the 1950s to the 1970s will bring back memories to readers whose educations were shaped through interactions with these works and authors. Such scholars will be pleased to offer this collection to younger readers as a useful introduction to gems from texts that "everyone should know". ....This is a solid resource for today's readers.
One of the great virtues of Ellenson and Marmur’s anthology is it ranges far beyond such canonical thinkers ... Among the recent and less familiar thinkers are those who try to expand the range of voices in which the tradition speaks. Here one finds feminist and queer thinkers and, more generally, those who offer alternative metaphors for viewing God consonant with modernity’s expansive and increasingly nonhierarchical outlook. Such theological expansion argues that either we have never properly understood Judaism, because the tradition was too one-sided as a result of external sociological factors, or that the tradition was properly understood but must now be challenged and changed... Marmur and Ellenson’s excellent volume does not provide definitive answers for 21st-century American Judaism, but here are some of the voices we need to help fill those silences, some of the fragments out of which a new Judaism may be built.
—Jewish Review of Books
Marmur and Ellenson see a canon of American Jewish thought as already too entrenched and, like the canon of European Jewish thought, magnifying the influence of a small number of people. The editors thus bring in more of the intellectual progeny of thinkers who continue to cast a long shadow (in particular Heschel, Kaplan, and Soloveitchik) and many others debating the existential
questions of American Jewish existence. ...[they] contribute to the process of expanding the “open canon” to make room for texts more reflective of the diversity of contemporary Jewish experience.
—American Jewish History
Michael Marmur is associate professor of Jewish thought at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem. He is the author of Abraham Joshua Heschel and the Sources of Wonder. David Ellenson is chancellor emeritus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and professor emeritus of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University. He is the author of After Emancipation.