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Jewish Theology in Our Time: A New Generation Explores the Foundations and Future of Jewish Belief Hardcover – May 1, 2010
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"Demonstrates that there is not only a future to the Jewish theological enterprise in America but an exciting, fully realized, and challenging future. Abraham Joshua Heschel and Mordecai Kaplan would be thrilled. This book belongs on the shelf of every serious student of Jewish thought."
―Rabbi Neil Gillman, PhD, Aaron Rabinowitz and Simon H. Rifkind Emeritus Professor of Jewish Philosophy, The Jewish Theological Seminary; author, Doing Jewish Theology: God, Torah and Israel in Modern Judaism
“The Jewish conversation about God has continued for thousands of years. The wonderful collection of new voices represented in [this book] enriches not only the conversation but also the reader who will discover how rich, varied, and meaningful that conversation can be.”
―Rabbi Laura Geller, senior rabbi, Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills
“Intellectually and spiritually exhilarating. Indeed, it augurs well for the future of American Judaism.”
―Paul Mendes-Flohr, PhD, professor of Jewish thought, University of Chicago Divinity School; professor emeritus, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
About the Author
Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove, PhD, is rabbi at Park Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan. He received his masters of Hebrew letters from American Jewish University, studied at the Schechter Institute of Judaic Studies in Jerusalem, and was ordained at The Jewish Theological Seminary. He received his doctorate in the history of Judaism from the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Rabbi David J. Wolpe is rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, and author of Why Faith Matters, among other books.
Rabbi Carole B. Balin, PhD, is professor of Jewish history at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion. She is currently working on an updated version of the 1984 edition of Liberal Judaism with Dr. Eugene B. Borowitz and Frances W. Schwartz.
Top Customer Reviews
For example, one writer asks how it is possible in the twenty-first century to believe that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and merciful, when it is clear that God did nothing to save the six million Jews during the holocaust. Certainly, the rabbi feels, a merciful God would not let innocent people be butchered if God has the power to save them. He, therefore, offers us a different concept of God. "I do not believe in an up-there/out-there God. God is the pervasive becoming ground of all." Then he explains what he means.
Another writer speaks of revelation being a dialogue where "mine is not the only voice. Participating in any dialogue requires me to be still and listen.... Part of our job in our Sinaitic dialogue is to be silent in God's presence, so that we can be open to God's voice and also the voices of the generations of servants who came before us." The writer then tells us how this is done.
A final example is from Dr. Marc B. Shapiro.Read more ›
(1) Broken Theology - Uncertainty
This largest category of essays embraces uncertainty with three general themes: religious independence, ethics and God skepticism.
Religious independence and doubt: A Jew must choose freely and is radically free. Our tradition permits, even embraces uncertainty. There is a diversity of interpretative approaches and interpretations. Every Jew may now interpret sacred texts on his or her own authority. Doubt is a lens through which we encounter truth. Jewish thought is a concentration of many ideas that are always being rewritten, reinterpreted, and re-created. There are no fixed beliefs or dogma. Non-theology is valid. Judaism is but one of many equally valid options.
Ethics: Emphasis on ethics and ethical relationships, with God as the ethical core of Judaism. Commitment to tikkun olam (repairing the world) and social justice. Action more important than belief. Commitment to connect with other Jews.
God skepticism: Not much thought about God. Religious meaning is found in observance of Jewish law and traditions, not in pondering theological mysteries. There is no consensus about God, many interpretations. God's characteristics are doubted. Creation is embraced as divinity. The search for God is ongoing.Read more ›
There is no unbiased book review and this one is no exception to the rule. Although most reviewers' goal is objectivity, being human means being subjective by nature.
"Jewish Theology In Our Time," edited by Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove is a timely and overdue book whose publication I applaud. As a collection of theological essays by rabbi/scholars, I was pleasantly surprised by their honesty and courage. Although in some cases no fresh ground is plowed, the majority of the contributions is meaningful and varied.
Before I select a few excerpts from these essays for further discussion let me join the editor in his disappointment that so few orthodox rabbis accepted his invitation to make a contribution to the volume. This regrettable lacuna results in the fact that most of the writers hail more or less from the left side of the Jewish theological spectrum.
What are some of the theological views expressed in the anthology? The one that stands out and was especially interesting and surprising to me was several rabbis' treatment of halakhah. No longer is halakhah seen here as essentially Jewish law to be rigorously followed. In the words of Rabbi Eliyahu Stern (p.151), "Instead of encountering halakhah as a form of coercive state law, we ought to see it as a commandment or perhaps, more accurately, as a something that "compels" us to take seriously our surrounding, our relationships, and the moral implications of our actions." This definition, in my opinion, is simply equivalent to ethics. Somewhat similar approaches to halakhah are advocated by a few other contributors.
On the reality of God, Rabbi Daniel M.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have been reading this book in a book group. We read a chapter a week and then discuss it. So much food for thought. It is fantastic!Published 15 days ago by Maxine Rosenthal
Came as promised quickly no problems interesting read and very helpful to understanding change and impacts on theology whlle explaining the need for core valuesPublished on May 22, 2014 by JoA Day
Very interesting and in depth. I am enjoying reading it immensely. Well written and informative Thank you so much :)Published on February 15, 2014 by Mary Ellen Barton
This book is a collection of essays on the current state of Judaism and how to approach the future in a realistic way. Read morePublished on May 2, 2013 by Bruce Wolf
I did not agree with all of the points of view expressed in all of the essays in this anthology (I probably only agreed with a minority). Read morePublished on September 26, 2010 by Michael Brochstein
Jewish faith is over five thousand years old, and like anything that old, it has to change with the times. Read morePublished on September 16, 2010 by Midwest Book Review