Book Notes

Article excerpt

American Jewish Life

Jews in American Politics, edited by L. Sandy Maisel and Ira N. Forman. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001. 506 pp. $39.95. ISBN 0-7425-0181-7.

This book, which includes chapters by journalists, scholars, and politicians, presents a picture of the past, present, and future of Jewish political participation. Topics cover Jewish leadership and identity; Jews in Congress, on the Supreme Court, and in presidential administrations; and Jewish influence in the media, the lobbies, and other American governmental arenas.

New York Jews and the Decline of Urban Ethnicity, 1950-1970, by Eli Lederhendler. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2001. 384 pp. $29.95. ISBN 0-8156-0711-3.

Eli Lederhendler explores the decline of secular Jewish ethnic culture in New York, the growth of Jewish religious factions, and the rise of a more assertive ethnocentrism. Using memoirs, essays, news items, and data on suburbanization, religion, and race relations, the book analyzes the decline of the metropolis in the 1960s, increasing clashes between Jews and African Americans, and post-war transiency of neighborhood-based ethnic awareness.

Saving Monticello: The Levy Family's Epic Quest to Rescue the House that Jefferson Built, by Marc Leepson. New York: Free Press, 2001. 303 pp. $25.00. ISBN 0-7432-0106-X.

When Thomas Jefferson died in 1826, his heirs sold his estate in order to pay his debts. Marc Leepson here recounts the story of how one Jewish family saved the house that was their home for longer than it was Jefferson's. Twice the house came to the brink of ruin, and twice it was saved, by two different generations of the Levy family.

Ancient World and Archaeology

Death, Burial, and Afterlife in the Biblical World, by Rachel S. Hallote. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2001. 256 pp. $26.50. ISBN 1-56663-401-6.

The author examines the archaeological, literary, and artistic evidence for the burial practices of biblical times, their antecedents and successors. She traces Judaic attitudes toward the dead across the centuries, as burial practices were transformed by the Jews' encounter with Persia, Greece, and Rome, and carries the story forward to the present interplay of beliefs that characterize Western attitudes toward death.

Imperialism and Jewish Society, 200 B.C.E. to 640 C.E., by Seth Schwartz. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002. 336 pp. $39.50. ISBN 0-691-08850-0.

Probing more than eight centuries of Persian, Greek, and Roman domination over Palestinian Jewish society, Seth Schwarz concludes that the Christianization of the Roman empire generated the most fundamental features of medieval and modern Jewish life.

The Religions of Ancient Israel: A Synthesis of Parallactic Approaches, by Ziony Zevit. London: Continuum, 2001. 821 pp. $150.00. ISBN 0-8264-4728-7.

The author draws on textual readings, archaeological and historical data, and epigraphy to determine what may be known about the Israelite religions during the Iron Age (1200-586 B.C.E.). The evidence is synthesized within the structure of an Israelite worldview and ethos involving kin, tribes, land, traditional ways and places of worship, and a national deity.

Biblical and Rabbinic Literature

The Book of Amos as Composed and Read in Antiquity, by Aaron W. Park. New York: Peter Lang, 2001. 280 pp. $57.95. ISBN 0-8204-5244-0.

Aaron W. Park treats the redaction of the Book of Amos and the history of its reception in Second Temple period works including the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and some early Christian and Rabbinic Jewish literature. The first part of the book attempts to estalish a literary structure, genre, setting, and intention with respect to the present form of the Book of Amos. The second part is the study of the living tradition and employs comparative midrash in a broad sense.

Bringing the Psalms to Life: How to Understand and Use the Book of Psalms, by Daniel F. …