Jewish Legal Theories
Writings on State, Religion, and Morality

Leora Batnitzky, ed.; Yonatan Brafman, ed.

2017
296 pp. 6 x 9"


Gershom Scholem
From Berlin to Jerusalem and Back

Noam Zadoff

2017
344 pp. 15 illus. 6 1/8 x 9 1/4"


The Road to September 1939
Polish Jews, Zionists, and the Yishuv on the Eve of World War II

Jehuda Reinharz, Yaacov Shavit

2018
432 pp. 6 1/8 x 9 1/4"

Forthcoming

Jewish Legal Theories

Writings on State, Religion, and Morality

Leora Batnitzky, ed.; Yonatan Brafman, ed.

Anthology of writings about Jewish law in the modern world

Jewish Legal Theories - book coverContemporary arguments about Jewish law uniquely reflect both the story of Jewish modernity and a crucial premise of modern conceptions of law generally: the claim of autonomy for the intellectual subject and practical sphere of the law. Yet for all the interest in and importance of Jewish legal theory, there is no single volume that addresses it simultaneously in its historical and conceptual contexts, as well as in the context of modern legal theory more broadly defined.

Jewish Legal Theories collects representative modern Jewish writings on law and provides short commentaries and annotations on these writings that situate them within Jewish thought and history, as well as within modern legal theory. The topics addressed by these documents include Jewish legal theory from the modern nation state to its adumbration in the forms of Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism in the German-Jewish context; the development of Jewish legal philosophy in Eastern Europe beginning in the eighteenth century; Ultra-Orthodox views of Jewish law premised on the rejection of the modern nation-state; the role of Jewish law in Israel; and contemporary feminist legal theory.

LEORA BATNITZKY is Ronald O. Perelman Professor of Jewish Studies, professor of religion, and chair of the Department of Religion at Princeton University. She is the author of Leo Strauss and Emmanuel Levinas: Philosophy and the Politics of Revelation and How Judaism Became a Religion: An Introduction to Modern Jewish Thought. YONATAN BRAFMAN is assistant professor of Jewish thought and ethics, Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

This book can be purchased directly through the University Press of New England.


Gershom Scholem

From Berlin to Jerusalem and Back

Noam Zadoff

A new intellectual portrait of a prominent twentieth-century philosopher

Zadoff front coverThe German-born Gerhard (Gershom) Scholem (1897–1982), the preeminent scholar of Jewish mysticism, delved into the historical analysis of kabbalistic literature from late antiquity to the twentieth century. His writings traverse Jewish historiography, Zionism, the phenomenology of mystical religion, and the spiritual and political condition of contemporary Judaism and Jewish civilization. During his lifetime, he published over forty volumes and close to seven hundred articles and trained at least three generations of scholars of Jewish thought, many of whom still teach in Israel, Europe, and North America.

Scholem famously recounted rejecting his parents’ assimilationist liberalism in favor of Zionism and immigrating to Palestine in 1923, where he became a central figure in the German Jewish immigrant community that dominated the nation’s intellectual landscape in Mandate Palestine until the World War II. Despite Scholem’s public renunciation of Germany for Israel, Zadoff explores how life and work of Scholem reflect ambivalence toward Zionism and his German origins.

Zadoff divides the book into three parts. He first examines how Scholem created new academic and social circles in Palestine, while at the same time continuing to publish in German and take part in Jewish cultural projects in his country of origin. Zadoff then turns to the reaction of Scholem to the Holocaust and its aftermath, which constituted a turning point in his life. The third part of the book deals with Scholem’s gradual return to the German intellectual world after World War II.

Zadoff's erudite interpretations of Scholem’s scholarship, embedded in its rich social and cultural contexts, show anew the remarkable contested worlds Scholem inhabited, resisted, and accommodated to—sometimes in ways that ran counter to his own self-portrait.

NOAM ZADOFF is an assistant professor of Jewish studies and history at Indiana University.

This book can be purchased directly through the University Press of New England.


The Road To September 1939

Polish Jews, Zionists, and the Yishuv on the Eve of World War II

Jehuda Reinharz, Yaacov Shavit

How the Zionist movement and the Yishuv actively sought to help Polish and other European Jews in the 1930s

ReinharzShavit front coverIn European and Holocaust historiography, it is generally believed that neither the Zionist movement nor the Yishuv, acting primarily out of self-interest, energetically attempted to help European Jews escape the Nazi threat.

Drawing on the memoirs, letters, and institutional reports of Chaim Weizmann, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, David Ben-Gurion, and many others, this volume sheds new light on a troubled period in Jewish history. Reinharz and Shavit trace Jewish responses to developments in Eastern and Central Europe to show that—contrary to recent scholarship and popular belief—Zionists in the Yishuv worked tirelessly on the international stage on behalf of their co-religionists in Europe.

Focusing particularly on Poland, while explicating conditions in Germany and Czechoslovakia as well, the authors examine the complicated political issues that arose not just among Jews themselves, but within national governments in Britain, Europe, and America. Piercing to the heart of conversations about how or whether to save Jews in an increasingly hostile Europe, this volume provides a nuanced and thoughtful assessment of what could and could not be achieved in the years just prior to World War II and the Holocaust.

JEHUDA REINHARZ is Richard Koret Professor of Modern Jewish History and director of the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry at Brandeis University. He is the president of the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Foundation. YAACOV SHAVIT is professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University.

This book can be purchased directly through the University Press of New England.