- Series: Religion in North America
- Hardcover: 408 pages
- Publisher: Indiana University Press; Revised edition (April 9, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0253008026
- ISBN-13: 978-0253008022
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #805,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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American Post-Judaism: Identity and Renewal in a Postethnic Society (Religion in North America) Revised Edition
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[R]equired reading for anyone directly concerned with Jewish survival, and for everyone interested in the state of institutional religion and personal spirituality in the US today. . . Highly recommended. (Choice)
[Magid's] American Post-Judaism provides a timely and necessary, if controversial, entry into contemporary Jewish theology. Highly recommended. (H-Judaic)
Shaul Magid . . . has just happened to write one of the most important books on American Judaism written of late. . . . Magid has a keen eye on the politics of change and renewal as they impact Israel and the American Jewish community. (The Daily Beast)
Magid’s important book is a clear and realistic – albeit incomplete – preliminary analysis of Judaism in America; its achievements; and its crises. It provides a variety of perspectives on the creation of contemporary Jewish society in the U.S. . . . that provide an accurate portrait of postethnic Judaism. (Haaretz)
[American Post-Judaism] deals with the reality of American Jewish life with realism and with insight. (JNS)
[T]his spirited and erudite collection has much to contribute to the sociological understanding of American Jewry. . . When read against the findings of the Pew Study, however, his observation that American Jewry has arrived at a 'between moment' strikes me as singularly prescient. (Sociology of Religion)
The ongoing public conversation about the future of American Judaism is embodied in a small library of recent books, many of which have been considered here. None of them, however, offers quite the same potent brew of courage, clarity, passion and expertise as Shaul Magid’s American Post-Judaism . . . , a scholarly but also visionary book about what it means to be a Jew in America today. (Jewish Journal)
In every case, Shaul Magid's point is that the old paradigms for thinking about Jews and Judaism―specifically the ethnically inflected, assimilation-phobic, chosen/one God model―are dead. But all is not lost. He is optimistic that if we redefine the terms of Jewish survival, we will see just how much Jews have gained in these transformations. (Lila Corwin Berman Temple University)
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What is good about this book? 1) Jewish Renewal is something obscure for most of us. Professor Magid really dissects the philosophy and helps the reader get to the core messages so often blurred by lofty "spiritual" jargon. 2) Fresh and exciting ways are offered to tackle the post-modern condition the Jewish world finds itself in today. 3) Access to a great mind. Magid's writing is clear. And his scope of knowledge is impressive. These two together, along with his depth and personal connection to the topic, all provide a most pleasant pathway into the inner corridors of Jewish thought.
Cons: 1) This is not a beginner's book (this can be a pro or a con--depends on the audience). 2) Magid is a dedicated student (talmid) of Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, On one hand, this instigates a comprehensive analysis of his writings. However, sometimes an apologetic vibe can be picked up. And sometimes the reader can't help but wish the critical lens with which other thinkers are scrutinized would be equally applied to Reb Zalman. (See the last chapter on post post-Holocaust literature, for instance. Schachter-Shalomi seems to not have a clear message on the Holocaust. But Magid presents him as having one. This requires a bit of acrobatics. Also, the claims made by Shalomi on this topic are disturbing at times, but nevertheless seem to be portrayed by the author in a positive light.) 3) This is a personal one which may (only) resonate with other rationalist-leaning readers: I found it hard to accept some of the "new" paradigms being offered by Jewish Renewal, as per how they were depicted in the book, because they often are based on (New Age) spirituality and axioms such as "we have entered into a new phase, the era of Aquarius" and the like. And I just don't know how to digest this and integrate it into my rational categories of thought. Magid thoroughly presents the problem: Judaism can't address this generation with an old Torah. But the answer(s) I found less compelling. But for those more spiritually oriented, this may not be a barrier.
In all, this is a most compelling work, by a top-notch scholar. And it offers much food for thought for all Jewish educators today. In a day of "posts" (post-modernism, post-Zionism, post-monotheism, post-ethnicity, etc.), the Jewish world often seems befuddled and alarmed at the drastic changes in our new generation. Magid offers the reader a philosophical, historical, psychological and sociological map, based on Jewish Renewal, for understanding the sources of this generation's angst, all the while presenting new avenues for living and experiencing Judaism based on these understandings. If you want to think deeply, experience new paradigms for understanding and living Judaism, and acquire a solid foothold in Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi's thought, this is the book for you.