November 2016

Topic of the Week: HBI Books

November 22, 2016

HBI’s New Book Celebrates “A Season of Singing: Creating Feminist Jewish Music in the United States” by Sarah M. Ross

Excerpted from Brandeis University Press:

In the 1960s, Jewish music in America began to evolve. Traditional liturgical tunes developed into a blend of secular and sacred sound that became known in the 1980s as “American Nusach.” Chief among these developments was the growth of feminist Jewish songwriting.

In this lively study, Sarah M. Ross brings together scholarship on Jewish liturgy, U.S. history, and musical ethnology to describe the multiple roots and development of feminist Jewish music in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Focusing on the work of prolific songwriters such as Debbie Friedman, Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael, Rabbi Hanna Tiferet Siegel, and Linda Hirschhorn, this volume illuminates the biographies and oeuvres of innovators in the field, and shows how this new musical form arose from the rich contexts of feminism, identity politics, folk music, and Judaism. In addition to providing deep content analysis of individual songs, Ross examines the feminist Jewish music scene across the United States, the reception of this music, challenges to disseminating the music beyond informal settings, and the state of Jewish music publishing.

Rounding out the picture of the transformation of Jewish music, the volume contains appendixes of songs and songwriters a selection of musical transcriptions of feminist Jewish songs, and a comprehensive discography. This book will interest scholars and students in the fields of American Jewish history, women’s studies, feminism, ethnomusicology, and contemporary popular and folk music.

A Season of Singing: Creating Feminist Jewish Music in the United States” by Sarah M. Ross is published in the HBI Series on Jewish Women.


Topic of the Week: Meet our Scholars

November 10, 2016

Avishalom Westreich, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-residence

Avishalom Westreich is a Senior Lecturer at the College of Law and Business, Ramat Gan, and a Research Fellow in the Kogod Research Center for Contemporary Jewish Thought at the Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem. From 2007–2008, he was a Research Fellow in the Agunah Research Unit at the University of Manchester, UK.

Dr. Westreich was awarded his Ph.D. on "The Talmudic Theory of Torts" from Bar-Ilan University (2007), and holds degrees in Hermeneutic Studies (M.A. Summa Cum Laude), Law (LL.B.), Talmud (B.A.), and Jewish History (B.A. Summa Cum Laude). His current main research and teaching areas are Jewish law, family law, and the philosophy of law. His publications include, No Fault Divorce in the Jewish Tradition (Hebrew; 2014) and Talmud-Based Solutions to the Problem of the Agunah (2012).