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Inventing Jewish Ritual Paperback – May 7, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: The Jewish Publication Society (May 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0827608349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0827608344
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,202,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Many of the new and provocative rituals Ochs began gathering a decade ago are now seamlessly woven into Jewish practice: naming ceremonies for baby girls, Rosh Hodesh groups, women's seders, healing services. What is utterly novel today, she concludes, may be the 'traditional' Judaism of tomorrow. Ochs, author (Sarah Laughed; Words on Fire) and professor of religious studies, is herself a ritual innovator, crafting ceremonies for teenagers who receive their driver's licenses and office-warmings with interactive mezuzot. Ritual innovation, she says, remains based in texts, actions, objects and understandings about God, spurred by a democratic search for spirituality and Jewish feminism. Her explorations of the origins and context of rituals, from red threads to chocolate Seder plates and prayers for September 11, are eye-opening. Three larger case studies focus on Miriam's tambourine, Holocaust Torahs and wedding booklets, and lists of resources, books and Web sites abound. Ochs doesn't gloss over questions of authenticity, endurance and discomfort, but offers a clear, informative discussion of a dynamic process that will continue to change the face of American Judaism. (July)
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Review

"Inventing Jewish Ritual by Vanessa Ochs is a wonderful read, especially if one is an egalitarian Jew. Her passionate feminism comes through clearly, as does her pride in being Jewish. The two play together brilliantly."—Edgar Bronfman
(Edgar Bronfman)

"Reading Inventing Jewish Ritual did precisely what any good ritual should . . . it enchanted, delighted, destabilized, anchored, challenged and charmed . . . a must read for anyone who wants to know how ritual works to make us wiser and more compassionate and wants to reimagine life as the most profound ritual of all."—Rabbi Irwin Kula
(Rabbi Irwin Kula)

"Explores how traditional communities can move beyond skepticism to turn invented rituals into sanctioned, even beloved, traditions."—Nextbook
(Nextbook)

"Offers a clear, informative discussion of a dynamic process that will continue to change the face of American Judaism."—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly)

"Ochs is a gentle guide to the world of new Jewish ritual, both for newcomers to the concept and for those who are already immersed within it."—Haaretz
(Haaretz)

"A compelling case for creating new ritual in Jewish life - new ways to observe holidays and mark life-cycle events - while reminding that it is the doing that makes ritual come alive and the practice real."—Jewish News of Greater Phoenix
(Jewish News of Greater Phoenix)

More About the Author

Vanessa L. Ochs is the author of Inventing Jewish Ritual (JPS), winner of a 2007 National Jewish Book Award. Her other books include Sarah Laughed, The Jewish Dream Book (with Elizabeth Ochs), The Book of Jewish Sacred Practices (edited with Irwin Kula), Words on Fire: One Woman's Journey into the Sacred, and Safe and Sound: Protecting Your Child In An Unpredictable World. For her writing, she was awarded a Creative Writing Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts.


Dr. Ochs is an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Jewish Studies Program at the University of Virginia where she teaches courses in Judaism, anthropology of religion, Jewish feminism, and spiritual writing. Ochs earned her B.A. in Drama and French from Tufts University, an M.F.A. in Theater from Sarah Lawrence College, and Ph.D. in Anthropology of Religion from Drew University.

She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with her husband, theologian Peter Ochs; they are the parents of two grown daughters, Elizabeth Ochs and Juliana Ochs Dweck and grandparents of Harry and Emma Dweck.

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sara Harwin on August 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
Ochs' view from standing in the stream of Jewish time is one of observer and enthusiastic participant. The new rituals she describes come from the full range of Jewish practices-from Orthodoxy through Jewish renewal. Her "boxed" explanations of how to perform the new/evolving rituals are great directions for trying something new.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Caryn Aviv on August 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
Vanessa Ochs has done scholars, ritual innovators, and activists a wonderful favor. Not only does she write analytically and ethnographically in clear, jargon-free prose about the movements, ritual transformations and people that have reshaped American Jewish life. She has also provided useful road maps and ideas for people seeking relevance and meaning in Jewish life. I am definitely assigning this in my sociology of American Jewish culture courses!
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