The Future of the Jewish People in Five Photographs


The Future of the Jewish People in Five Photographs

Peter S. Temes

216 pages
5 photographs


November 2012


$26.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

November 2012


$26.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Threatened by the love of would-be friends as well as the hatred of long-established enemies, the Jewish people face a number of critical questions about the future. What matters more: the number of Jewish people, or the qualities of the Jewish soul? Does asking, “Is it good for the Jews?” diminish the more profound question, “Is it good?” Should the Torah be seen as the unchanging anchor of faith or as a starting place for continual reinvention? Does Judaism hold within it a universal and inclusive ethic?

These questions take on more and more significance as Jewish neighborhoods continue to fade, as Jewish identity melts in the embrace of intermarriage, and as a new generation of American Jews seeks a universal moral vision in a religion built for a people who once stood apart.

Each of the five photographs in this book frames one of these critical questions, generating a dialogue that is as honest and practical as it is spiritual and philosophical. Drawing on history, literature, and his upbringing in the Jewish communities of Brooklyn, Peter S. Temes seeks a new understanding of what it means to be Jewish and what the future holds for the Jewish people. The five photographs at the center of his search hint at the possibilities of that future—possibilities that are at once hopeful and inspiring but also challenging and troubling.

Author Bio

Peter S. Temes is head of the Pacific Hills School, West Hollywood, California. A former faculty member at Harvard University, he is the author of many books, including, most recently, The Power of Purpose: Living Well by Doing Good.


“A profound and learned exercise in Jewish thinking and of thought about the Jews . . . free from scholarly bickering. A great contribution to a rabbinical tradition that has emerged in the last century, more philosophical than liturgical.”—Uri Cohen, assistant professor of Hebrew Literature, Columbia University

“[Peter S. Temes is] a remarkable thinker and doer.”—Robert Coles, Harvard University

"Though Temes stops short of offering any bold predictions of his own in this concise, passionately argued book, he provides valuable fodder for many searching conversations about what it will take to carry the Jewish saga forward into the new millennium."—Harvey Freedenberg, Shelf Awareness 

"[The Future of the Jewish People in Five Photographs is] an important read for those outside of Judaism who wish to understand the tradition's complexity; an essential read for those within the community, for whom such questions are of particular exigency."—Michelle Schingler, Foreword Reviews

"While there is no definitive answer to any of the questions raised in the book, the lively discussion and simple logic give the reader much to think about. . . . It is an excellent choice for a book club or Jewish high school history class."—Kathe Pinchuck, Association of Jewish Libraries

"The author's thoughtful sermons, drawing on diverse authorities, reveal a passionate understanding of his faith. Illuminating homilies of the Jewish people, by the Jewish people and, particularly, for the Jewish people."—Kirkus

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Eyeh Asher Eyeh
1. How Does it Feel?
2. How Much Change Can Judaism Stand?
3. The First and Second Photographs
4. The Third Photograph
5. The Fourth Photograph
6. The Fifth Photograph
Coda: Judaism for What?

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