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Black Zion: African American Religious Encounters with Judaism (Religion in America) 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195112580
ISBN-10: 019511258X
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Many recent studies of Black-Jewish relations assume that the two ethnic categories are mutually exclusive. Not so, according to the two Swarthmore College historians who edited this absorbing volume. A 1990 national survey found that 2.4% of American Jews--about 132,000 people--identify themselves as black and that 239,000 African-Americans claim some personal connection with Judaism. The ten essays that comprise this collection offer "a suggestive sample" of their varied stories. The most interesting chapters examine the terms in which African-American Jews negotiate their compound identities in the context of a wider culture that is generally unsympathetic. Other essays examine such topics as the theological connections between Judaism and African-American varieties of Islam, the appropriation of abandoned synagogues by African-American congregations and the employment of Jewish stereotypes among Haitian practitioners of Vodou. One may quibble with the selection: a celebratory essay on Abraham Joshua Heschel's relationship with Martin Luther King seems decidedly out of place, and there are two chapters on the Hebrew Israelites, a small sect of black Americans who emigrated to Israel in 1969, but none on the Falasha Jews of Ethiopia, whose cause appeals neither to Pan-Africanists nor to Zionists. However, the book's eclectic nature is also one of its strengths, revealing the great diversity and complexity of modern religious responses to the questions of ethnic identity. (Jan.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Recent events, e.g., the Million Man March, anti-Semitic statements by the Rev. Louis Farakhan, and African American leaders' sometimes vocal support of Palestinian self-determination, have occasioned a public examination of relations between the African American and Jewish communities, making this outstanding collection timely indeed. Chireau and Deutsch (religion, Swarthmore) have collected well-written essays by qualified scholars and journalists that demonstrate just how nebulous are the boundaries and identities of black, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities. Topics include the various groups that identify themselves as black Jews or Hebrews; the Nation of Islam's rhetoric; the influence of Martin Luther King on Abraham Heschel; interest in the builder-prophet Nehemiah among black leaders; and the appropriation of former synagogues as urban churches. In all, the essays make clear the intensely human and complex processes by which people build their religious identities. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.
-Steve Young, Montclair State Univ., NJ
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Religion in America
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019511258X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195112580
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,359,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By J. E. Friedman on April 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
The topic seemed so off-the-beaten-track to be interesting for that reason alone. The book certainly lived up to the promise by providing numerous perspectives of the interaction between Jews and people of African descent in the Americas. Especially fascinating was when the two cultures meshed in the same people: Black Jews. Conceived as a religious take on Black Jewishness, the book wisely steers clear of the political controversies discussed in many books already to focus on the sacred rather than the profane.
Sometimes the writing could be ponderous and overly academic, but by and large intriguing, informative, and worthwhile.
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By Israel on September 4, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recieved the product very quickly and was as described
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