August 8, 2023
Reform Jewish publisher’s new anthology focuses on revolution and reinvention throughout Jewish intellectual history, creating an accessible introduction to the long history of disruption in Jewish life from antiquity to the present.
New York, NY – August 2023: CCAR Press, a division of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, is pleased to announce the publication of Re-forming Judaism: Moments of Disruption in Jewish Thought, an anthology analyzing transformations in Jewish history. Re-forming Judaism is edited by Rabbi Stanley M. Davids and Leah Hochman, PhD.
Throughout Jewish history, revolutionary events and subversive ideas have burst forth, repeatedly transforming Jewish experience. Re-forming Judaism seeks to explore these ideas—and the individuals behind them—by delving into historical disruptions that led to lasting change in Jewish thought. A distinguished array of scholars take us on a journey from the disruptive prophets of ancient times, through rational, mystical, and extremist medievalists, to the impact of Haskalah and early Reform thought in modernity. Contemporary innovations such as changes in liturgy and music, feminism, and post-Holocaust theology are included, as are insights into Sephardic and North African experiences. By showing how Judaism forms—then re-forms, and re-forms again—the contributors demonstrate that tensions between continuity and change have always been part of Jewish life, helping us to both understand the past and contemplate the future.
The anthology is divided into five sections: Biblical Considerations, Rabbinic Disruptions, Medieval Constructions, Modern Deliberations, and Contemporary Innovations. Throughout, the authors offer a variety of insights into Jewish history, identification, and thought. Contributors include Jacob L. Wright, PhD, a professor of Hebrew Bible at Emory University, who discusses the destruction of the Temple in 586 BCE as a pivotal moment in terms of a collective Jewish identity; Gwynn Kessler, PhD, associate professor of religion and director of the Beit Midrash at Swarthmore College, who focuses on the Rabbinic category of tumtum v’androginos as a disruption of the biblical gender binary; Rabbi Lawrence Englander, DHL, rabbi emeritus of Solel Congregation in Mississauga, Ontario and current adjunct rabbi of Toronto’s Temple Sinai, who analyzes the Zohar’s conception and its importance in Jewish mystical tradition; Rabbi Michael Marmur, PhD, associate professor of Jewish theology at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Jerusalem, who writes about Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan’s impact on American Judaism and the way his influence is felt today; and Rabbi Nora Feinstein of Sixth and I in Washington, DC, who projects a future vision of inclusive Judaism.
Rabbi Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, PhD, the Effie Wise Ochs Professor of Biblical Literature and History at HUC-JIR, has praised the book as “perfect for all who seek to explore the resilience that undergirds Jewish survival and to benefit from first-rate scholarship and engaging style.”
“There is a piece of every Jew that relishes thinking of oneself as standing at Sinai and being part of a people and tradition that extends from then to now. The Jewish tradition, though, is ours now only because it had the wisdom to change over the centuries, said Rabbi Elliot Dorff, PhD, the rector and Sol & Anne Dorff Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy at American Jewish University. “This book graphically demonstrates how tradition and change together have kept Judaism instructive and relevant over time so that Jews now can enjoy and benefit from both its continuity and its ever-refreshing and challenging nature.”
Jonathan D. Sarna, PhD, the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University said, “To paraphrase a famous slogan, ‘You don’t need to be Reform to enjoy Re-Forming Judaism.’ You just need to be curious as to how change happens.”
Re-forming Judaism: Moments of Disruption in Jewish Thought is available at
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