A Jewish Understanding of the World

A Jewish Understanding of the World

A Jewish Understanding of the World

A Jewish Understanding of the World


In this second volume of liberal Jewish sermons, the author combines a radically progressive stance with Jewish commitment and seeks to understand contemporary history from a "prophetic" point of view.


This is the second of two volumes of collected sermons and extracts from sermons given, mostly at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, St John's Wood, London, in the forty-plus years between the mid-1950s and the mid-1990s. They appear here much as they were delivered, with only minor changes so as to make them less time-and-place-bound or more readable. The earlier ones have also been stylistically revised in favour of gender-sensitive language -- a desideratum which, I must confess, has impressed itself on me only in recent years.

They draw guidance from the Jewish past but seek to respond to the realities of the present, and thus seek to do justice both to tradition and to modernity.

Part One applies this twofold approach to the Jewish world as it struggles to maintain its continuity against centrifugal forces, to evolve new expressions of Judaism appropriate to the new intellectual and social realities, and to play a responsible role vis-à-vis the Zionist movement and the State of Israel.

Part Two applies the same approach to the wider world, seeking to grasp the significance of historical events from the arrival of the space age to the collapse of the Soviet Empire, to respond to a wide range of social issues from medical ethics to international peace, and to contribute towards a mature relationship between Judaism and Christianity.

Once again, I want to thank all those who have helped and encouraged me: first and foremost, my wife Jane; then my teachers in Cambridge and Cincinnati; the congregations I have been privileged to serve in Streatham, Columbus and St John's Wood; Rabbi David J. Goldberg, editor of the series of which this is the second volume; the organisations and individuals, named in the Foreword to the previous volume, whose generosity has made the series feasible; and Marion Berghahn, its publisher.

John D. Rayner

London, 1998 . . .

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