8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Jews and time,
This review is from: Shuva: The Future of the Jewish Past (Paperback)
I highly recommend this book to anyone who spends any time thinking about Jewish life. This book is simultaneously spot-on, yet nuanced. Kurtzer truly understands the DNA of what makes us Jews tick and challenges us to keep the conversation going. We Jews have a preoccupation with time, he argues. If it is the past that is on our mind, we are either preoccupied with narratives around our destruction or idealizing some heyday that may or may not have occurred. If it is the future that is on our mind, we are either preoccupied with our potential demise, of feverishly debating progressive innovations. What this author truly understands is how obsessed we are with time. Far from critiquing this preoccupation, he appropriates it. Kurtzer does not offer a packaged solution, which is admirable. But he does offer a challenge: to keep the conversation going, vested in time, drawing from our memory and translating this into purposefulness in the present. If you are into the ranting "politics" of modern Jewish life, this book is not for you. The author is a thoughtful scholar and obviously very schooled in classical Jewish text, so don't expect a slick, jousty polemic. Yet, there is an elegance and beauty and occasional wit to his writing -- surprising amongst writers who take on such significant topics. Kurtzer promotes innovation and change in Jewish life, but not for its own sake, and not as it is blown around by the popular winds. He left me thinking that he is offering to the Jewish world, what Edmund Burke offered to Western Christedom: a respect for memory, layered tradition, and accrued wisdom en route to furthering the greatest Jewish tradition of them all: innovating Jewish life in the here and now so that one day our present will be remembered, perhaps even revered, and it too will take its place in the dynamic layering over time that has sustained our people. If you care about Jewish life in the present, buy this book!