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Judaism’s Promise, Meeting the Challenge of Modernity

Seymour W. Itzkoff

Judaism’s Promise, Meeting The Challenge Of Modernity follows Seymour W. Itzkoff’s well-received three-book series, Who Are the Jews? Judaism’s Promise, confronts the many revolutions that have reshaped Judaism over the centuries allowing it and its people a path of leadership into the modern world. It takes the writings of the Torah, Holy Scriptures, and Talmud seriously as exemplars of the human search for civilizational and moral intellectuality. The book’s basic concern is with the withering of Judaism as a force in contemporary Western civilization.
Sadly millions of Jews have left the faith. Others venture forth only hesitantly into a synagogue, now a bastion of fossilized ritual and conspicuous consumption. These millions needed more from the orthodoxy, and this book attempts to show them the way back by giving renewed life to the heritages of Judaism, and, consequently, to its meaning for the modern world. Judaism’s Promise argues for a return to the synagogue’s originating Hellenistic commitment «to come together» in intellectual and moral study. As Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan argued, Judaism must once more become in the 20–21st century the civilization that it once represented to the wider world, and not a fossilized ceremonialism.

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Notes Chapter two: Sources for the Religious 1. Finkelstein, L. 1955. “Jewish Religion: Its Beliefs and Practices,” in The Jews: Their History, Culture and Religion, ed., L. Finkelstein, New York: Harper & Bros., pp. 1386–1387. 2. Itzkoff, S. W. 2000. The Inevitable Domination by Man: An Evolutionary Detective Story, Ashfield, MA: Paideia. 3. Marshack, A. 1972. The Roots of Civilization, London: Weidenfield and Nicolson. 4. Cassirer, E. 1929/1957. The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, Vol. III, New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, p. 90. 5. Charvat, P. 2002. Mesopotamia before History, New York: Routledge, pp. 158–159. 6. Bottero, J. 1992. Mesopotamia. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, p. 193. 7. Postgate, J. N. 1992. Early Mesopotamia, London: Routledge, p. 299. Chapter three: Torah/Law 1. Urbach, E. E. 1989. “Torah,” Judaism: A People and Its History, ed., by R. Seltzer, New York: Macmillan, p. 85. 2. Urbach, op. cit., p. 86. 3. Two excellent sources with which to identify the various strands of biblical tradition, i.e., who wrote what with regard to which group of writers wrote what: Gottwald, Norman. 1985. The Hebrew Bible, A Socio-Literary Introduction, Philadelphia: Fortress Press; Friedman, R. E. 1987/1997. Who Wrote the Bible? San Francisco: Summit/Harper. Itzkoff_Book.indb 201 23/10/12 5:43 PM 202 | judaism’s promise, meeting the challenge of modernity 4. Cowley, Arthur E. “Hebrew Literature,” in Encyclopedia Britannica, op. cit., 11th ed., Vol. 13, p. 169; Gordis, Robert, in Finkelstein, Louis, ed., 1955. The Jews: Their History, Culture, and Religion, 2 vols., New York: Harper...

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