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Internationally recognized scholar David Ellenson shares twenty-three of his most representative essays, drawing on three decades of scholarship and demonstrating the consistency of the intellectual-religious interests that have animated him throughout his lifetime.
These essays center on a description and examination of the complex push and pull between Jewish tradition and Western culture. Ellenson addresses gender equality, women’s rights, conversion, issues relating to who is a Jew, the future of the rabbinate, Jewish day schools, and other emerging trends in American Jewish life. As an outspoken advocate for a strong Israel that is faithful to the democratic and Jewish values that informed its founders, he also writes about religious tolerance and pluralism in the Jewish state.
The former president of Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, the primary seminary of the Reform movement, Ellenson is widely respected for his vision of advancing Jewish unity and of preparing leadership for a contemporary Judaism that balances tradition with the demands of a changing world.
Scholars and students of Jewish religious thought, ethics, and modern Jewish history will welcome this erudite collection by one of today’s great Jewish leaders.
David Ellenson is chancellor of Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion. His book After Emancipation: Jewish Religious Responses to Modernity won the National Jewish Book Council’s Award as the outstanding book in Jewish thought in 2005. His most recent book, coauthored with Daniel Gordis, is Pledges of Jewish Allegiance: Conversion, Law, and Policymaking in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Orthodox Responsa.
Part 1. Shaping Jewish Life in an Open Society
1. A Response by Modern Orthodoxy to Jewish Religious Pluralism: The Case of Esriel Hildesheimer
2. German Orthodox Rabbinical Writings on the Jewish Textual Education of Women: The Views of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch and Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer
3. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch to Liepman Phillip Prins of Amsterdam: An 1873 Responsum on Education
4. An Ideology for the Liberal Jewish Day School: A Philosophical-Sociological Investigation
5. Denominationalism: History and Hopes
6. The Integrity of Reform within Kelal Yisra-el
Part 2. Searching for a Balanced Theology
7. A Theology of Fear: The Search for a Liberal Jewish Paradigm
8. Eugene B. Borowitz: A Tribute on the Occasion of His 70th Birthday
9. Laws and Judgments as a “Bridge to a Better World”: Parashat Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1–24:18)
10. Heschel and the Roots of Kavanah: Responsibility and Kavanah in Postwar America
11. Rabbi Hayim David Halevi on Christians and Christianity: An Analysis of Selected Legal Writings of an Israeli Authority
12. Interreligious Learning and the Formation of Jewish Religious Identity
Part 3. Visions for Israel
13. A Zionist Reading of Abraham Geiger and His Biblical Scholarship
14. National Sovereignty, Jewish Identity, and the “Sake of Heaven”: The Impact of Residence in Israel on Halakhic Rulings on Conversion
15. The Talmudic Principle, “If One Comes Forth to Slay You, Forestall by Slaying Him,” in Israeli Public Policy: A Responsum by Rabbi Hayim David Halevi
16. The Rock from Which They Were Cleft: A Review-Essay of Haim Amsalem’s Zera Yisrael and Mekor Yisrael
17. Moshe Zemer’s Halakhah Shefuyah: An Israeli Vision of Reform and Halakhah
18. Reform Zionism Today: A Consideration of First Principles
Part 4. Rabbis and the Rabbinate: Lezakot et Harabim
19. Wissenschaft des Judentums, Historical Consciousness, and Jewish Faith: The Diverse Paths of Frankel, Auerbach, and Halevy
20. “Creative Misreadings” in Representative Post-Emancipation Halakhic Writings on Conversion and Intermarriage
21. A Portrait of the Poseq as Modern Religious Leader: An Analysis of Selected Writings of Rabbi Hayim David Halevi
22. Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits on Conversion: An Inclusive Orthodox Approach
23. Transformation of the Rabbinate: Future Directions and Prospects
Bibliography of the Published Writings of David Ellenson