Jews: The Essence and Character of a People

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9780060638351: Jews: The Essence and Character of a People

In this landmark work, Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, vice president emeritus of the World Jewish Congress, and Aron Hirt-Manheimer, editor of Reform Judaism Magazine, answer the question: What makes a Jew a Jew? These prominent Jewish scholars search for the soul of the Jewish character-from the archetype of Abraham and Sarah to the ambivalence of Kafka, Freud, and Woody Allen. They delve beyond conventional discussions of Jewish identity and explore the very essence of Jewish existence. Highly regarded, Jews explains how and why great Jewish figures throughout history, who have been victimized by anti-Semitism, have succeeded to rise again and endure.

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Review:

Jews is an earnest, disciplined attempt to do what has often been done recklessly, poorly, and even hatefully--to describe the things all Jews have in common. Arthur Hertzberg and Aron Hirt-Manheimer profile prominent Jews from Abraham to Woody Allen, discerning in their stories the essential Jewish qualities of "the chosen, the factious, and the outsider," and considering how these characteristics can help Jews rebuild their communities at the end of the 20th century. This book doesn't back down from any of the hard questions that Jews and gentiles ask about the Hebrew people: Do Jews contribute to anti-Semitism? Why do so many Jews marry gentiles? Why do some Jews think constantly of the Holocaust, and why do some ignore it? The answers Jews gives are rarely predictable and always provocative, and they're of lasting usefulness for all the children of Abraham. --Michael Joseph Gross

About the Author:

Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, author of The Zionist Idea, Jewish Polemics, The Jews in America, Jews, and A Jew in America, is the Bronfman Visiting Professor of Humanities at New York University and Professor Emeritus of Religion at Dartmouth. A world-renowned Jewish scholar, he has served as president of the American Jewish Policy Foundation and the American Jewish Congress and as vice-president of the World Jewish Congress.

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