Best Contemporary Jewish Writing

Best Contemporary Jewish Writing

Paperback(1 ED)

$36.95 View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


Jewish culture, identity, and spirituality through the eyes of the brightest and best authors

Best Contemporary Jewish Writing is a treasure trove of short stories, poetry, and essays from such renowned contributors as Naomi Wolf, U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, William Safire, and Marge Piercy. Dive into this rich arrayof writing and you ll see that the Jewish experience reflects universal themes.

The writers in this collection have something to say to Jews, not only to those struggling with their Jewish identity, and also to the wider world. Whether your main interest is in poetry or politics, spirituality or cultural identity, social healing or individual transformation, you ll find Best Contemporary Jewish Writing to be a collection that inspires, excites, and provokes. It also reflects the diversity of thought, opinion, and sensibility of today s best known Jewish thinkers and writers.

This volume is the first in the much anticipated annual series "Best Jewish Writing."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780787959722
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 09/07/2001
Edition description: 1 ED
Pages: 464
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Michael Lerner is the editor of TIKKUN magazine and rabbi of the neo-Hasidic Beyt Tikkun Jewish Renewal synagogue in San Francisco. His most recent book, Spirit Matters: Global Healing and the Wisdom of the Soul, was selected as "one of the most significant books of 2000" by the Los Angeles Times Book Review and won a PEN award. His previous writings include Jews and Blacks: Let the Healing Begin, a dialogue with Cornel West, and Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation (described by Conservative Judaism journal as "stunning, miraculous and faith-renewing"). Rabbi Lerner, designated by Utne Reader as one of America's 100 Most Important Visionaries, has been featured in the New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, and Newsweek. He holds Ph.D.s in philosophy and clinical psychology.

Read an Excerpt

The One Hundred Best Contemporary Jewish Books

Michael Lerner

Why only a hundred? There could easily be a thousand!

I asked dozens of Jewish writers, thinkers, rabbis, academics, and community leaders to make recommendations and a smaller group of them to help me narrow down the list. By the end of the process I still had two hundred books that deserved to be noted and room to list only half of them.

I decided to limit my list to books that are available in English and have been written since 1985. That helped winnow the list somewhat, but it pained me to not be able to cite some books that have had tremendous influence in the current period but were published before 1985. I am thinking particularly of the work of my teacher Abraham Joshua Heschel, Emmanuel Levinas, and Martin Buber; the poetry of Don Pagis and Denise Levertov; the best fiction of Cynthia Ozick, Tillie Olsen, Chaim Grade, Chaim Potok, and Bernard Malamud; the writing of Irving Howe; the early and probably more significant works of Elie Wiesel; and the influential works that appeared in the "Jewish Catalogue"(s) or in the writing of the most important Jewish feminists, collected by Susannah Heschel in 1983.

In saying "best" books, I actually mean "most significant" books. By significant, I mean books that have a profound message or are written in ways that are overwhelmingly beautiful and compelling or have had a profound impact on public Jewish discourse or have influenced the most creative people in their take on reality or are likely to have that impact.

Some people suggested that I list my own Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healingand Transformation
(HarperCollins, 1995) or my dialogue with Cornel West, Blacks and Jews: Let the Healing Begin (Putnam, 1995). I appreciated their enthusiasm, but I demurred. In fact, if anything I've sinned against anyone close to me by bending over backward to avoid playing favorites. I've listened to others, and included books that I don't like (and some that I really can't stand) but have played an important role in contemporary Jewish discourse.

What's the point of this kind of list? Well, its primary value is as a way to cut through hundreds of hours of research and focus on the books that are central to contemporary Jewish literacy. I can safely say that if you read the books listed here, you'll be amply prepared to participate in contemporary discussions in the Jewish world. But I do apologize to the many, many authors whose works are equally deserving to be on this list.

1. Rachel Adler, Engendering Judaism
2. S. Y. Agnon, Only Yesterday
3. Rebecca Alpert, Like Bread on the Seder Plate
4. Robert Alter, Canon and Creativity
5. Yehuda Amichai, Open Closed Open
6. Judith S. Antonelli, In The Image of God
7. Aharon Appelfeld, The Conversion
8. Yehuda Bauer, Rethinking the Holocaust
9. Saul Bellow, Ravelstein
10. Meron Benvenisti, Sacred Landscape: The Buried History of the Holy Land Since 1948
11. Ellen Bernstein, Ecology and the Jewish Spirit
12. David Biale, Power and Powerlessness in Jewish History
13. Harold Bloom, The Book of J
14. Daniel Boyarin, Carnal Israel
15. Melvin Jules Bukiet, Stories of an Imagined Childhood
16. Jules Chametzky and others (eds.), The Norton Anthology of Jewish American Literature
17. Steven M. Cohen and Arnold M. Eisen, The Jew Within: Self, Family, and Community in America
18. David Cooper, God Is a Verb
19. Anita Diamant, The Red Tent
20. Elliot N. Dorff and Louis E. Newman (eds.), Contemporary Jewish Ethics and Morality
21. Evan Eisenberg, The Ecology of Eden
22. Yaffa Eliach, There Once Was a World
23. Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, Booking Passage
24. Marcia Falk, The Book of Blessings
25. Michael Fishbane, The Exegetical Imagination
26. Eva Fogelman, Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust
27. Ellen Frankel, The Five Books of Miriam
28. Saul Friedlander, Nazi Germany and the Jews
29. Tikva Frymer-Kensky, In the Wake of the Goddesses
30. Neil Gilman, Sacred Fragments: Recovering Theology for the Modern Jew
31. Sander L. Gilman, Jewish Self-Hatred
32. Allan Ginsberg, Selected Poems, 1947-1995
33. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners
34. Elyse Goldstein (ed.), The Women's Torah Commentary
35. Rebecca Goldstein, Mazel: A Novel
36. Allegra Goodman, Paradise Park
37. Roger S. Gottlieb, A Spirituality of Resistance
38. Arthur Green, Seek My Face, Speak My Name
39. Irving Greenberg, The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays
40. David Grossman, See Under Love
41. Moshe Halbertal, The People of the Book
42. David Hartman, Israelis and the Jewish Tradition
43. Geoffrey Hartman, The Longest Shadow
44. Judith Hauptman, Rereading the Rabbis
45. Susannah Heschel (ed.), Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Writings of Abraham Joshua Heschel
46. Lawrence Hoffman, My People's Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries
47. Paula Hyman and Deborah Dash Moore, Women in America
48. Rodger Kamenetz, Jew in the Lotus
49. Aryeh Kaplan, Innerspace
50. Judith A. Kates and Gail Twersky Reimer (eds.), Reading Ruth
51. Alfred Kazin, God and the American Writers
52. Irena Klepfisz and Melanie Kaye-Kantrowitz (eds.), The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women's Anthology
53. David Kraemer, Reading the Rabbis
54. Chana Kronfeld, On the Margins of Modernism
55. Lawrence Kushner, God Was in This Place and I, i Did Not Know
56. Tony Kushner, Angels in America
57. Lawrence Langer, Art from the Ashes
58. Emmanuel Levinas, Nine Talmudic Readings
59. Deborah E. Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust
60. Bernard Malamud, The Complete Stories of Bernard Malamud
61. Daniel Matt, The Essential Kabbalah
62. Diane Matza (ed.), Sephardic American Voices
63. Benny Morris, Righteous Victims
64. Jacob Neusner, Recovering Judaism
65. Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life
66. Carol Ochs, Our Lives as Torah
67. Debra Orenstein, Lifecycles: Jewish Women on Life Passages and Personal Milestones
68. Amos Oz, In the Land of Israel
69. Grace Paley, Collected Stories
70. Marge Piercy, The Art of Blessing the Day
71. Peter Pitzele, Our Fathers' Well
72. Judith Plaskow, Standing Again at Sinai
73. Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Deborah, Golda, and Me
74. Marcia Prager, The Path of Blessing
75. Riv-Ellen Prell, Fighting to Become Americans
76. Adrienne Rich, Selected Poems, 1950-1995
77. Thane Rosenbaum, Elijah Visible
78. Philip Roth, The Counterlife
79. Steven J. Rubin (ed.), A Century of American Jewish Poetry
80. Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi, Paradigm Shift
81. Nosson Scherman (ed.), The Stone Edition of the Chumash
82. Howard Schwartz (ed.), Gabriel's Palace: Stories from the Jewish Mystical Tradition
83. Tom Segev, The Seventh Million
84. Rami M. Shapiro, Minyan
85. Laurence J. Silberstein and Robert L. Cohn (eds.), The Other in Jewish Thought and History
86. Isaac Bashevis Singer, Shadows on the Hudson
87. Art Spiegelman, MAUS: A Survivor's Tale
88. Ilan Stavans (ed.), The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories
89. Adin Steinsaltz (ed.), The Steinsaltz Edition of the Talmud
90. Aryeh Lev Stollman, The Far Euphrates
91. Joseph Telushkin, The Book of Jewish Values
92. Ellen M. Umansky and Dianne Ashton, Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality
93. Michael Walzer and others (eds.), The Jewish Political Tradition
94. Arthur Waskow, Down-to-Earth Judaism
95. Susan Weidman Schneider, Jewish and Female: Choices and Changes in Our Lives Today
96. Elie Wiesel, Memoirs
97. Leon Wieseltier, Kaddish
98. A. B. Yehoshua, Mister Mani
99. Richard Zimler, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon
100. Avivah Gottlieb Zornburg, Genesis: The Beginning of Desire

Table of Contents

Introduction: Jewish Writing and Healing the World xiii

The Many Identities of a Jew

To Jewishness 3

The Melting Pot and Beyond: Jews and the Politics of American Identity 8

Poems: Reversion and What Kind of Times Are These 15

Justify My Love 17

Ten Ways to Recognize a Sephardic 'Jew-ess' 29

Redemption on East Tremont: The kindness of Christians and a seder's matzah helps the daughter of Mendel Beilis fix the old fears 36

News About Jews 40

Gay and Orthodox 42

Slipping the Punch 55

The Night Game 70

From The Roots of a Public Life 73

From And What Is My Lifespan? 79

Stories: Grandmother Eve, Consecrating the Ordinary, Blessing, and The Reward 80

The Legacy: A Parable About History and Bobe-mayses, Barszcz, and Borscht and the Future of the Jewish Past 86

Reclaiming the Spirit in Judaism

Nishmat 95

Starting on My Spiritual Path 97

On Renewing God 103

Eternity Utters a Day 113

A Kabbalah for the Environmental Age 115

Is God in Trees? 127

The Emergence of Eco-Judaism 134

A Theology of Illness and Healing 145

Death and What's Next 150

Eros and the Ninth of Av 152

From The Book of Jewish Values 155

Poems: Yom Kippur Sonnet and Science Psalm 162

Rereading Sacred Texts of Our Tradition

From And Peace and Justice Shall Kiss 169

From Imagining the Birth of a Nation 186

From The Red Tent 193

From The Bible and You, the Bible and You and Other Midrashim 199

Aaron's God—and Ours: A Yom Kippur Reflection 200

Our (Meaning Women's) Book-of-Esther Problem 205

Living in the Shadows of the Holocaust

Cattle Car Complex 213

Force Fields 221

The Sanctuary 228

The Trivialization of Tragedy 230

Hereditary Victimhood: The Holocaust's Life as a Ghost 241

The Meaning of the Holocaust: Social Alienation and the Infliction of Human Suffering 252

Israel in Conflict

The New Historiography: Israel Confronts Its Past 265

Land for What? 281

Occupation and Antisemitism 284

A Novelist's Optimism: Reclaiming the Jewish Tradition 297

From Booking Passage 300

Poems: From In My Life, On My Life; Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Why Jerusalem?; and The Jewish Time Bomb 323

Hovering at a Low Altitude 326

The Pleasure of Jewish Culture

Making Judaism Cool 331

Old Man 339

Poems: When You Come to Sleep with Me, Come Like My Father and Hebrew 342

Esther and Yochanan 346

The Twenty-seventh Man 352

Against Logic 367

The Healing Power of Jewish Stories 371

The Complex Fate of the Jewish American Writer 375

Bellow at 85, Roth at 67 392

Jewish Writing and the Spiritual Journey: A Speculative Journey 409

The One Hundred Best Contemporary Jewish Books 417

The Editor 423

The Contributors 425

Credits 431

Customer Reviews