Academic journal article Shofar

Book Notes

Academic journal article Shofar

Book Notes

Article excerpt

American Jewish Life

Becoming American Jews: Temple Israel of Boston, by Meghan Dwyer-Ryan, Susan L. Porter, and Lisa Fagin Davis. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England/Brandeis University Press, 2009. 280 pp. $24.95. ISBN 978-1-58465-790-3.

From its beginning in 1854 as a traditional German shul to its current status as the largest Reform synagogue in New England, Temple Israel has been an important force in Boston and American Jewish life. The congregation's ongoing efforts to adapt to changes in American society while preserving balance-between tradition and innovation, between acculturation and distinctiveness-exemplify the transformations in religious worship practices, education, and social justice that mark modern American Reform Judaism. This volume, based on hundreds of archival documents, demographic data, and oral histories, and illustrated with more than 200 images, brings to life the stories of the men, women, and children who have built and maintained this vital Jewish community for more than 150 years.

A Dream ofZion: American Jews Reflect on Why Israel Matters to Them, edited by Jeffrey K Salkin. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 2007. 266 pp. $24.99. ISBN 978-1-58023-340-8.

This book features the insights of scholars, business leaders, professionals, politicians, authors, artists, and community and religious leaders covering the entire denominational spectrum of Jewish life in America today and offers a glimpse into the history of Zionism in America with statements from Jews who saw the movement come to life.

Ancient World and Archaeology

Jerusalem's Traitor: Josephus, Masada, and the Fall of Judea, by Desmond Seward. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2009. 314 pp. $28.00. ISBN 978-0-306-81807-3.

When the Jews revolted against Rome in 66 CE, Josephus, a Jerusalem aristocrat, was made a general in his nation's army. Captured by the Romans, he saved his skin by finding favor with the emperor Vespasian. He then served as an adviser to the Roman legions, running a network of spies inside Jerusalem, in the belief that the Jews' only hope of survival lay in surrender ro Rome. As a Jewish eyewitness who was given access to Vespasian's campaign notebooks, Josephus is out only source of information for the war of extetmination that ended in the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple. He is of importance for anyone interested in the Middle East, Jewish history, and the early history of Christianity.

Art and Music

Pontius Pilate, Anti-Semitism, and the Passion in Medieval Art, by Colum Hourihane. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009. 461 pp. $55.00. ISBN 978-0-691-13956-2.

Pontius Pilate is one of the Bible's best-known villains-but up until the tenth century, artistic imagery appears to have consistently portrayed him as a benevolent Christian and holy symbol of baptism. Pontius Pilate, AntiSemitism, and the Passion in Medieval Art provides a look at the shifting visual and textual representations of Pilate throughout early Christian and medieval art. Colum Hourihane shows how negative characterizations of Pilate, which were developed for political and religious purposes, reveal the antisemitism of the medieval period. He indicates that in some artistic renderings, Pilate may have been a symbol of good, and in many, a figure of jurisprudence. Eastern traditions treated Pilate as a saint with his own feast day, but Western accounts from the tenth century changed him from a Roman to a Jew. Pilate became a vessel for antisemitism-his image acquired grotesque facial and physical characteristics, and his role in Christ's Passion grew to mythic proportions. By the fifteenth century, however, representations of Pilate came full circle to depict an aged and empathetic administrator.

Biblical and Rabbinic Literature

Covenant and Conversation: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible. Vol. I: Genesis: The Book of Beginnings, by Jonathan Sacks. …

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