Choosing Survival
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Choosing Survival : Strategies for a Jewish Future

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Description

Throughout history, the persecutions of the Jewish people have been central to their identity and to the cohesion of their religion and cultural heritage. But now, with the success of the Jewish State of Israel and the prosperity of Jews in the United States, the collective sufferings that have forged the Jewish identity are disappearing. The compelling question Bernard Susser and Charles Liebman ask in Choosing Survival is: Will this success paradoxically prove fatal to Judaism? Susser and Liebman paint a disturbing portrait of the decline of Judaism in both Israel and the United States and the various-and mainly ineffective-efforts to reverse that decline. In Israel, as Jews are increasingly drawn to cosmopolitan Western culture, Jewishness is in danger of being reduced merely to communal folkways, while political tensions between religious and secular Jews threaten to pull the state apart. In the U.S., assimilation and secularization is even harder to resist. Efforts to strengthen Jewish identity by claiming the U.S. is still anti-Semitic and by pointing to the Holocaust and the threats to Israel's survival have not worked. The authors do, however, see a hopeful sign in Jewish Orthodoxy which, while not a viable solution to the problem, is successfully passing on its tenets and practices and attracting many non-Orthodox Jews. They identify several aspects of Orthodoxy that can be emulated by all Jews and hold the best hope for Jewish survival-its reverence for study, its ability to set and maintain boundaries, and its deep belief in community. For anyone concerned about the fate of Judaism and what it means to be Jewish, Choosing Survival is an impassioned, troubling, and essential book.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 152.4 x 231.14 x 27.94mm | 544.31g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195127455
  • 9780195127454

About Bernard Susser

Charles Liebman, the author of numerous books and articles dealing with the politics and religion of contemporary Jews, is a professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University. He is the recipient of the 1998 Cultural Achievement Award for Jewish Social Thought from The National Foundation for Jewish Culture. Bernard Susser, a professor of religion and political science at Bar-Ilan University, is the author of several books on political ideology. They both live in Israel.show more

Review quote

"Perceptive and provocative... Offering a bold prescription for the ailments of contemporary Jews, the authors poitn to Jewish Learning and sensibilities, the lessons of Orthodoxy and the attachments of religious folkways, as possible remedies. Their hope for a literate, 'inspired and attractive form of Jewishness that is neither combatively Orthodox nor communally exclusivist' should command world attention." - Jonathon D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewis History, Chair, Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University "Written with unabashed candor and out of a deep personal enagement, Choosing Survival challenges contemporary Jews to renew their engagement with tradition to forge a distinctive and counter-cultural Jewish identity. Readers will be rewarded by Liebman and Susser's incisive views of contemporary realities and future Jewish possibilities." - Jack Wertheimer, The Jewish Theological Seminary "This book is required reading for all persons dedicated to the perpetuation of Jewish peoplehood. It offers a surgical exploration of the Jewish condition in America and Israel. What a fascinating phenomenon: two scholars, passionately ocmmitted in their personal lives to Jewish survival, dispassionately challenge the fundamental premises on which both communities are grounded. They point us to a more complex and tortuous future, when the `ideology of afflicition' and the threat of war will no longer serve as the primary bonds of Jewish identity. Though they offer no panaceas, they astutely raise the critical issues and project the difficult choices prerequisite to the quest for creative survival.... This book calls on Jews to `choose life.'"-Rabbi Richard G. Hirsch, Honorary Life President, World Union for Progressive Judaism "Susser and Liebman engage both their personal commitments as Jews, and their analytic insights as social scientists, to offer a challenging perspective on Jewish life and the Jewish future in Israel and the United States. Their argument-that we have entered a new era in Jewish life, one in which Jews must recognize the tensions between Judaism dn modernity if Judaism is to suvive-will engage and excite readers with interests in Israel, contemporary Jews, or modern religious identity."-Steven M. Cohen, professor, The Hebrew University "In this provocative new book, two American-born Israeli academics offer a trenchant analysis of the central dilemmas facing American and Israili Jews today. Written with unabashed candor and out of a deep personal engagement, Choosing Survival challenges contemporary Jews to renew their engagement with tradition to forge a distinctive and counter-cultural Jewish identity. Readers will be rewarded by Liebman and Susser's incisive views of contemporary realities and future Jewish possibilities."-Jack Wertheimer, professor, The Jewish Theological Seminary "This perceptive and provocative analysis of the Jewish condition in America and Israel poses a daunting challenge: `can Jews survive the end of the siege,' can they find some alternative to `the ideology of affliction' that has shaped the communal worldview throughout diaspora history" Offering a bold prescription for the ailments of contemporary Jews, the authors point to Jewish learning and sensibilities, the lessons of Orthodoxy and the attachments of religious folkways, as possible remedies. Their hope for a `literate, inspired and attractive form of Jewishness that is neither combatively Orthodox nor communally exculsivist' should command wide attention."-Jonathon D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Chair, Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studiesshow more