Academic journal article Shofar

Book Notes

Academic journal article Shofar

Book Notes

Article excerpt

American Jewish Life

Coalfield Jews: An Appalachian History, by Deborah R. Weiner. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2006. 234 pp. $25.00. ISBN 0-252-07335-5.

In this book, Deborah R. Weiner studies Jews in Appalachia, exploring where they settled, how they made their place within a surprisingly receptive dominant culture, how they competed with coal company stores, interacted with their non-Jewish neighbors, and maintained a strong Jewish identity in the heart of the Appalachian mountains. Weiner draws on primary sources in social, cultural, religious, labor, economic, and regional history and includes personal statements from oral histories.

Jews and American Popular Culture, edited by Paul Buhle. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2007. Set $300.00. ISBN: 0-275-98793-0. Vol. 1: Movies, Radio, and Television, 279 pp., ISBN 0-275-98794-9. Vol. 2: Music, Theater, Popular Art, and Literature, 368 pp., ISBN 0-275-98795-7. Vol. 3: Sports, Leisure, and Lifestyle, 283 pp., ISBN 0-275-98796-5.

Jews and American Popular Culture examines the influence of the Jews in America, who have flourished despite the myriad forms of antisemitism. Chapters explore topics across a range of time periods and genres, including assimilation, stereotypes, and the Holocaust, and explain how a comparatively small, initially underprivileged group of people managed to wield wide-ranging influence on contemporary culture.

A Living Lens: Photographs of Jewish Life from the Pages of the Forward, edited by Alana Newhouse. New York: W W Norton, 2007. 352 pp. $39.95. ISBN 978-0-393-06269-4.

This book presents 531 duotone photographs of American Jews in the twentieth century and beyond, from the archives of the Forward. Original essays are included by intellectuals and historians including Leon Wieseltier, J. Hoberman, Roger Kahn, and Deborah E. Lipstadt, plus an introduction by Pete Hamill.

Ancient World and Archaeology

The Mystical Texts: Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice and Related Manuscripts, by Philip Alexander. London and New York: T&T Clark International, 2006. 171pp. $130.00. ISBN 0-567-04082-8.

Starting from a definition of mysticism, this volume argues that there is clear evidence for the practice of mysticism in the Community of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It offers a close reading of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, the Self-Glorification Hymn, and related texts, which constitute the Qumran mystical corpus. It also argues that Jewish mysticism began in priestly circles in second Temple times, several centuries before the commonly accepted date. This volume synthesizes and makes accessible a mass of technical research widely scattered in monographs and articles, and offers the reader a guide to the most recent scholarly work in the field.

Biblical and Rabbinic Literature

Joseph's Bones: Understanding the Struggle Between God and Mankind in the Bible, by Jerome M. Segal. New York: Riverhead Books, 2007. 308 pp. $24.95. ISBN 978-1-59448-939-6.

Philosopher Jerome Segal offers a reexamination of the first six books of the Bible, maintaining that if we approach the Bible without preconceptions, we will find something like an existential novel about the struggle between God and mankind that is far more sympathetic to mankind than to God. Segal comes to see the Bible as the people's book, written as a way to understand the human condition in a universe governed by a powerful and morally complex deity.

Mapping Paradise: A History of Heaven on Earth, by Alessandro Scafi. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. 400 pp. $55.00. ISBN 0-226-73559-1.

When early Christians adopted the Hebrew Bible, and with it the story of Genesis, the Garden of Eden became an idyllic habitat for all mankind. Each age envisioned paradise in its own way; there is still no end to the stream of theories on the location of the Garden of Eden. Mapping Paradise is a history of the cartography of paradise. …

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