The Idea of Modern Jewish Culture

The Idea of Modern Jewish Culture

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The vast majority of intellectual, religious, and national developments in modern Judaism revolve around the central idea of 'Jewish culture'. This book is the first synoptic view of these developments that organises and relates them from this vantage point. The first Jewish modernisation movements perceived culture as the defining trait of the outside alien social environment to which Jewry had to adapt. To be 'cultured' was to be modern-European, as opposed to medieval-ghetto-Jewish. In short order, however, the Jewish religious legacy was redefined retrospectively as a historical 'culture', with fateful consequences for the conception of Judaism as a human and not only a divinely mandated regime.The conception of Judaism-as-culture took two main forms: an integrative, vernacular Jewish culture that developed in tandem with the integration of Jews into the various nations of western-central Europe and America, and a national Hebrew culture which, though open to the inputs of modern European society, sought to develop a revitalised Jewish national identity that ultimately found expression in the revival of the Jewish homeland and the State of Israel. This is a large, complex story in which the author describes the contributions of Mendelssohn, Wessely, Krochmal, Zunz, the mainstream Zionist thinkers (especially Ahad Ha-Am, Bialik, and A.D. Gordon), Kook, Kaplan, and Dubnow to the formulation of the various versions of the modern Jewish cultural ideal.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 292 pages
  • 157.48 x 236.22 x 27.94mm | 589.67g
  • Academic Studies Press
  • Brighton, United States
  • English, Hebrew
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1934843059
  • 9781934843055

Review quote

..".Schweid's work is a significant addition to the analysis of European Jewish thought in the modern period."--Rabbi Josh Levy, Manna, Autumn 2009

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About Eliezer Schweid

Eliezer Schweid is Professor Emeritus of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University. He has published 40 books in general and specific areas of Jewish thought of all periods, and has commented frequently on the relevance of the legacy of Jewish thought to contemporary issues of Jewish and universal human concern. He is the recipient of the distinguished Israel Prize and two honorary doctorates.

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Table of contents

ContentsEditor's Preface... viiForeword ... xiChapter One. Culture as a Concept and Culture as an Ideal ... 1Chapter Two. Tensions and Contradiction ... 11Chapter Three. Internalizing the Cultural Ideal ... 15Chapter Four. The Underlying Philosophy of Jewish Enlightenment ... 18Chapter Five. The Meaning of Being a Jewish-hebrew Maskil ... 24Chapter Six. Crossroad: The Transition from Haskalah to the Science ofJudaism... 35Chapter Seven. The Dialectic between National Hebrew Culture andJewish Idealistic Humanism ... 37Chapter Eight. The Philosophic Historic Formation of Jewish Humanism:a Modern Guide to the Perplexed ... 43Chapter Nine. The Science of Judaism XResearch in Judaism as a Culture . . 71Chapter Ten. The Science of Judaism, Reform Judaism, and HistoricalPositivism ... 85Chapter Eleven. A Critique of the Science of Judaism and the Cultural Idealof the Enlightenment ... 95Chapter Twelve. Accelerated Change and Revolution ... 101Chapter Thirteen. The Vision of Jewish Cultural Renaissance inPolitical Zionism ... 105Chapter Fourteen. The Pioneering (H oalutzic) Culture of the Jewish LaborMovement in Palestine ... 115Chapter Fifteen. Polar Views on Sources of Jewish Culture ... 123Chapter Sixteen. Alienation from Religion and Tradition ... 125Chapter Seventeen. The Jewish Folk Culture of Eretz Israel ... 130Chapter Eighteen. Judaism as the Totality of a National Historic Culture . . 146Chapter Nineteen. Sanctity and the Jewish National Movement... 173Chapter Twenty. The Dimension of Sanctity in Pioneering Labor Zionism . . 193Chapter Twenty One. Orthodox Zionist Culture XSanctifying Modernity . . 212Chapter Twenty Two. Judaism as a Culture in the Diaspora ... 226Chapter Twenty Three. The Secular Jewish Culture of Yiddish... 237Chapter Twenty Four. The Transition from the Hebrew Culture ofPre-state Eretz Israel to Israeli Culture ... 241Glossary... 261Bibliography ... 263Index ... 267

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