A Time to Every Purpose: Letters to a Young Jew by Jonathan D Sarna

By Jonathan D Sarna

At the flip of the twenty-first century, the critical query confronting Jewish leaders in the USA is easy:

Why be Jewish?

Jonathan D. Sarna, acclaimed pupil of yankee Judaism, believes that “Why be Jewish?” is the incorrect query. Judaism, he believes, isn't quite a bit a “why” as a way—a lifestyle, a manner of marking time, a manner of on the subject of the surroundings, to humans, to relatives, and to God. Judaism is skilled via doing—doing issues Jewish, doing issues for fellow Jews in want, doing issues as a Jew to enhance the country of the realm. The extra Judaism one does, the extra one involves delight in what Judaism is.

Using the Jewish calendar as his place to begin, Sarna displays at the significant topics of Jewish existence as expressed in an entire yr of holidays—from Passover within the spring to Purim 11 months later. Passover, for example, yields a dialogue of freedom; Shavuot, a dialogue of Torah; Yom Kippur, the position of the person in the Jewish group; Chanukah, problems with assimilation and anti-assimilation.

An crucial short introduction—or reintroduction—to the foremost practices of Jewish existence in addition to the various complexities of the yankee Jewish adventure, this publication can be crucial interpreting for American Jews and the correct reward for the vacation season.

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Additional resources for A Time to Every Purpose: Letters to a Young Jew

Sample text

But who knows for how long? I hope that I am invited back to Maimuna next year; maybe you can join me. For now, though, I am off to Jerusalem. I will be sure to write to you from there. , the air raid sirens sounded. I was panicked, imagining the worst. I expected everyone to start running for shelter. But instead, an astonishing thing happened. Everyone around me stood stark still. The joggers on the street froze. Walkers stopped in their tracks. Automobiles braked to a halt, and some people got out and stood at attention.

And what guarantee was there that they would not meet with similar persecutions again? qxd 46 | 6/17/08 10:48 AM Page 46 a time to every purpose immigrants, but by World War I those gates had mostly shut tight. There remained, many felt, only one solution: a Jewish homeland, a place where Jews could finally be welcomed as “insiders” and live safely, in control of their own destiny. Since Jews’ historic home in the land of Israel was significantly underpopulated—only about half a million Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived there late into the nineteenth century—that seemed like the natural location.

Just as Yom ha-Shoah is but one day in the Jewish calendar, so the Nazi Holocaust, it seems to me, needs to be contextualized within a broad understanding of Jewish history and achievement. Although we dare not forget the Holocaust and must ponder its lessons, we also dare not undermine the Holocaust through inappropriate analogies and obsessive fixations. I would love to know your thoughts about this. I have always had a sense, in your case, that Holocaust awareness made you a more socially conscious person.

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