And They Shall Be My People: An American Rabbi and His Congregation

And They Shall Be My People: An American Rabbi and His Congregation

by Paul Wilkes
     
 

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Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum is devoted to his congregation of mostly middle- and upper-middle-class Conservative Jews -- yet their lax observance frustrates and saddens him. Competing daily with an increasingly secular culture, Rosenbaum struggles to show his congregation the riches and fulfillment of an observant Jewish life. Exploring the rabbi's sometimes troubled,…  See more details below

Overview

Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum is devoted to his congregation of mostly middle- and upper-middle-class Conservative Jews -- yet their lax observance frustrates and saddens him. Competing daily with an increasingly secular culture, Rosenbaum struggles to show his congregation the riches and fulfillment of an observant Jewish life. Exploring the rabbi's sometimes troubled, sometimes joyful leadership, And They Shall Be My People presents a complex and human portrait of American Judaism in our modern age. "A striking and valuable book.... A powerful, haunting story for a society easily seduced by new emphases and values." -- Gerald I. Wolpe, The Philadelphia Inquirer; "To call this 'a revealing portrait' is an understatement. It is a mirror of organized Jewish life." -- Robert L. Wolkoff, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wilkes spent a year with Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum, leader of Congregation Beth Israel, a Conservative Jewish synagogue in Worcester, Mass. This report is a searching meditation based on the assumption that American Jewry is fragmented, diluted and facing a precarious future. Rabbi Rosenbaum, who zealously attempts to reach alienated Jews and to nudge the marginally observant toward greater commitment, emerges as confident yet deeply frustrated as he copes with intermarriages, declining membership, a stagnant budget and the resentment of congregants uncomfortable with his demands for stricter observance. A congregational trip to Israel unleashes pent-up emotions in the rabbi and his wife, Janine, who contemplate relocating there. (For most of the book, Janine seems bitterly disillusioned and peeved at her frequently absent husband.) Wilkes (In Mysterious Ways: The Death and Life of a Parish Priest), who is Catholic, brings a sympathetic perspective to this probe. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Wilkes (In Mysterious Ways, Random, 1990) here follows Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum of conservative Congregation Beth Israel in Worcester, Massachusetts, on his daily rounds over the course of a year. Rosenbaum is a young, committed rabbi, passionate about raising the level of observance of his rather lax and well-to-do congregants. His efforts typify the underappreciated efforts of many of the rabbinate to make inroads into secular American culture. Rosenbaum's efforts meet with great resistance. The reader sees how the work of a rabbi can be an all-consuming one, leaving little time for privacy and undistracted time with family. While this easy-to-read study does not break any new ground, it does underscore the many issues in contemporary Jewish life. Recommended for libraries that serve a Jewish clientele.-Paul Kaplan, Lake Villa Dist. Lib, Ill.
George Cohen
Wilkes, an award-winning writer and a Catholic, spent one year with Jay Rosenbaum, the 42-year-old rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel, a Conservative synagogue in an upper-middle-class community in Worcester, Massachusetts. Wilkes followed Rabbi Rosenbaum on his daily rounds--leading the services, performing weddings and conducting funerals, teaching children, and counseling couples. Wilkes interviewed the rabbi, the rabbi's wife, and some of the synagogue members. The rabbi had been at Beth Israel for six years, had started many new programs, and had begun to reverse the demographic trend, attracting younger families into what had been an aging synagogue. But he wanted his people to live more intensely Jewish lives. Consequently, the book explores the complex question, What is the place of the Jewish religion in today's lifestyle? In seeking the answer, Wilkes has written an important book, focusing on a religion at a perilous juncture in time.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802196552
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
12/01/2007
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
File size:
2 MB

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