Choosing Hope


Choosing Hope

The Heritage of Judaism

David Arnow

JPS Essential Judaism Series

352 pages
2 indexes


March 2022


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2022


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2022


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

2023 Reference Book of the Year from the Academy of Parish Clergy

Throughout our history, Jews have traditionally responded to our trials with hope, psychologist David Arnow says, because we have had ready access to Judaism’s abundant reservoir of hope.
The first book to plumb the depths of this reservoir, Choosing Hope journeys from biblical times to our day to explore nine fundamental sources of hope in Judaism: 
  • Teshuvah—the method to fulfill our hope to become better human beings
  • Tikkun Olam—the hope that we can repair the world by working together
  • Abraham and Sarah—models of persisting in hope amid trials
  • Exodus—the archetype of redemptive hope
  • Covenant—the hope for a durable relationship with the One of Being
  • Job—the “hard-fought hope” that brings a grief-stricken man back to life
  • World to Come—the sustaining hope that death is not the end
  • Israel—high hope activists work to build a just and inclusive society for all Israelis
  • Jewish Humor—“hope’s last weapon” in our darkest days
Grounded in a contemporary theology that situates the responsibility for creating a better world in human hands, with God acting through us, Choosing Hope can help us both affirm hope in times of trial and transmit our deepest hopes to the next generation.

Author Bio

David Arnow is a scholar of the festival of Passover. He is the author of Creating Lively Passover Seders and coeditor of My People’s Passover Haggadah.


"Former clinical psychologist Arnow . . . unearths the hopefulness baked into Judaism in this stimulating [work]."—Publishers Weekly

"Theologically enriching and hope-producing. . . . Could easily function as a reference book, especially for preachers, who wish to draw upon Jewish wisdom in teaching about hope, but it is also . . . worthy of spending time simply reading it cover to cover. . . . There is wisdom here that is worth exploring. . . . As a Christian, I receive this wisdom with gratitude."—Word & Way

"A powerful and impactful aid in affirming our hope and transmitting it to the next generation, suffering more than in any recent time in our history."—San Diego Jewish World

"An absorbing, insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking study that is impressively well organized and presented, Choosing Hope: The Heritage of Judaism is an ideal, timely, and unreservedly recommended addition to synagogue, community, college, and university library Judaic Studies collections."—Midwest Book Review

"A thoroughly researched . . . book . . . [which] includes insights into prayer and human potential, the Jewish past and messianic future, Hasidic rabbis and secular thinkers."—Long Island Jewish World/Manhattan Jewish Sentinel 

“This book is a blessing, a sublime meditation on hope, an erudite feast of Jewish wisdom, and a wellspring of surprising, subversive, deeply satisfying epiphanies about the relationship between hope and all the emotions and experiences that comprise a life of meaning. Doubt, despair, anger, activism, memory, humor, love, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, the Holocaust, and the State of Israel are among the topics explored by David Arnow in his masterful illumination of the purpose and power of hope.”—Letty Cottin Pogrebin, author of Deborah, Golda, and Me: Being Female and Jewish in America

Choosing Hope is not only a profound exploration of the meaning and claim of hope but a wonderfully inspiring interpretation of the Jewish tradition. Drawing on meticulous reading of vast sources and teachings, this extraordinary book bears witness to the core idea of Jewish faith itself: as an awakening to confront our sorrows and despair with the personal and communal ongoing task of tikkun.”—Moshe Halbertal, John and Golda Cohen Professor of Jewish Thought and Philosophy at the Hebrew University

“David Arnow guides us gently, engagingly, and insightfully to see hope where we never noticed it before.”—Rabbi Judith Hauptman, E. Billi Ivry Professor Emerita of Talmud and Rabbinic Culture, Jewish Theological Seminary

“This vital book challenges us to think about hope in a new way—as a response to life in which we are partners in the ongoing work of imagining and creating a better world. Through its nuanced readings of biblical, classical, and mystical texts, Choosing Hope offers a deep and refreshing understanding of the centrality of hope not only in Jewish theology, prayer, and ritual; Jewish values; and even contemporary Israel but also in our own lives. So dive in—and choose hope.”—Rabbi Laura Geller, Rabbi Emerita of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills

“This careful, thorough examination of hope in Jewish sources and thought will lift the spirits of all who read it.”—Rabbi Steven Bob, author of Jonah and the Meaning of Our Lives

Table of Contents


What Hope Is and Why It Matters
Judaism as a Reservoir of Hope
Difficulty Tapping Jewish Sources of Hope
A Way toward Hope
About This Book
Making the Most of This Book
Notes on Translation and Gender

1. Repentance: The Gateway to Hope
A Theology for Looking in the Mirror
Prayer and Hope
The Season of Teshuvah
Seasonal Rituals

2. Tikkun Olam: Turning Hope into Action
Biblical Roots in Ecclesiastes
Rabbinic Origins in the Mishnah
An Intertextual Reading of the Sages and Ecclesiastes
Aleinu’s Hope of Repairing the World
Tikkun Olam in the Mysticism of Isaac Luria
Tikkun Olam Today

3. Abraham and Sarah: Living in Hope
Hope in God and Abraham’s Relationship
Hope amid Abraham and Sarah’s Trials
The Binding of Isaac as a Story of Hope

4. The Exodus: Hope at the Heart
Brueggemann’s Archetypical Tale of Hope
Exodus as the Jewish Master Story
Despair versus Hope in Midrash and Commentary
Putting Exodus Memories into Practice

5. The Covenant: Hope in Israel’s Relationship with God
Covenantal Hope in the Morning Liturgy
Covenantal Hope and the Ancient Trials of History
The Post-Holocaust Conversation

6. The Book of Job: Hope for Vindication
Reframing Job
Verses of Despair, Verses of Hope
Hope for Vindication

7. Jewish Eschatology: Hopes for the World to Come
The Road to Resurrection in the Bible
The Rise of the Rabbis and the Triumph of Resurrection
The Messiah of the Rabbis
Maimonides on the Messiah and the Afterlife
Reform Judaism’s Hopes for the Afterlife
Humans Fulfilling Hopes for Immortality?

8. Israel: Hope in the Homeland
Zionist Hope
Fulfilling the Hopes of Statehood
Reuven Rivlin’s Israeli Hope
Snapshots of Israeli Hope: Israeli Activists Speak

9. Jewish Humor: The Currency of Hope
Humor and Hope
The Beginning of Jewish Laughter
Waiting for the Messiah
The Schlemiel
Laughing and Hoping in Hell
God Laughs Too

Final Thoughts
A Succinct Jewish Theology of Hope
Finding Hope in Our Ancient Texts
Hope Means Work
Transmitting Our Heritage of Hope

Subject Index
Index of Texts


2023 Reference Book of the Year from the Academy of Parish Clergy

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