Hope, Not Fear: A Path to Jewish Renaissance

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A distinguished Jewish leader and philanthropist argues for openness and joy to reinvigorate Judaism in America.

After a lifetime of fighting the persecution of Jews, Edgar M. Bronfman has concluded that what North American Jews need now is hope, not fear. Bronfman urges North American Jewry “to build, not fight. We need to celebrate the joy in Judaism, even as we recognize our responsibility to alleviate suffering and to help heal a broken world. We need to understand Judaism ...

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Hope, Not Fear: A Path to Jewish Renaissance

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Overview

A distinguished Jewish leader and philanthropist argues for openness and joy to reinvigorate Judaism in America.

After a lifetime of fighting the persecution of Jews, Edgar M. Bronfman has concluded that what North American Jews need now is hope, not fear. Bronfman urges North American Jewry “to build, not fight. We need to celebrate the joy in Judaism, even as we recognize our responsibility to alleviate suffering and to help heal a broken world. We need to understand Judaism as a multifaceted culture as well as a religion, and explore Jewish literature, music, and art. We need to understand our tradition of debate and questioning, and invite all to enter a conversation about our central texts, rituals, and laws. We need to open our book anew, and re-create a vital Judaism for our time.”

Through a reexamination of important texts and via interviews with some of the leading figures in Judaism today, Bronfman outlines a new agenda for the Jewish community in North America, one that will ensure that Judaism grows and thrives in an open society. He calls for welcome without conditions for intermarried families and disengaged Jews, for a celebration of Jewish diversity, and for openness to innovation and young leadership. Hope, Not Fear is an impassioned plea for all who care about the future of Judaism to cultivate a Jewish practice that is open to the new as it delves into the old, that welcomes many voices, and that reaches out to make the world a better place.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Bronfman, a philanthropist, former World Jewish Congress president and former Seagram CEO, bemoans the dry, joyless Judaism of his youth, which he in turn transmitted to his own children. The Holocaust and fear of anti-Semitism are no longer enough to drive Jewish identity and participation, he argues, along with writer Zasloff; only a more open, more celebratory and hopeful communal life will draw and retain young Jews. This community must be pluralistic, unreservedly welcoming intermarried Jews and their spouses, gay Jews and others outside the traditional Jewish mold. (Among the scores of mostly young leaders the authors quote is the first Asian-American rabbi.). Few of these ideas are new, and, occasionally, Bronfman oversimplifies, as when he reduces the complex issue of intermarriage to the need for an open "tent," mirroring the hospitality of the biblical Abraham and Sarah. Still, Bronfman has spoken to and learned from a highly diverse group of American Jewish religious and cultural leaders outside the mainstream to fashion a fairly coherent view of what a more vibrant Jewish future might looks like. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Bronfman, a philanthropist and former CEO of the Seagram Company, along with college writing instructor Zasloff, highlights strategies for a Jewish spiritual and cultural renaissance in North America. Noting the option of assimilation and high rates of intermarriage, Bronfman exudes confidence that both Jews and their non-Jewish loved ones will embrace Jewish tradition if given a nonthreatening way to discover it. Emphasizing that Jewish identity relates to both religious and cultural experience, Bronfman promotes choices to maintain either type of Jewish identification. Outreach vehicles he discusses include Jewish camps, trips to Israel, campus activities for college students, graduate scholarships, and Jewish information resources not promoting one denomination. Bronfman's management background shows in the sober, straightforward tone. Yet personal and professional anecdotes abound, and Bronfman includes lengthy quotations from interviews with other philanthropists, rabbis, and scholars. Libraries requiring a more scholarly work can consider American Jewish Identity Politics, a forthcoming book of essays about Jewish identity edited by Deborah Dash Moore. Bronfman's title is recommended for large public libraries and Judaic studies collections.
—Marianne Orme

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312377922
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/16/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Edgar M. Bronfman is a leading philanthropist and chairman of the Board of Governors of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. He is the former CEO of the Seagram Company Ltd. and the former president of the World Jewish Congress. He has been recognized for his leadership by organizations, universities, and governments around the world. In 1999, President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor.

Beth Zasloff is an alumna of the Bronfman Youth Fellowships, and her collaboration with Edgar M. Bronfman has been a dynamic intergenerational partnership. She has taught writing at New York University, Johns Hopkins University, and in New York City public schools. She has a B.A. in English from Yale University and an M.A. in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University.

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Read an Excerpt

Hope, Not Fear A Path to Jewish Renaissance
By Bronfman, Edgar M.
St. Martin's Press Copyright © 2008 Bronfman, Edgar M.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312377922



“Jewish community has always provided a sheltering home for Jews in times of danger and need.  But the quality that we most need to foster now in our Jewish home is not just security but welcome. Those who seek a home in Judaism should find a community and a tradition that ushers in its guests with warmth and pride and that celebrates diversity of background and opinion. Those who marry Jews should find in Jewish community a loving family that welcomes them without conditions.” —from Hope, Not Fear



Continues...

Excerpted from Hope, Not Fear by Bronfman, Edgar M. Copyright © 2008 by Bronfman, Edgar M.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents

How This Book Was Written

Introduction 1

Pt. I The Spirit of a Jewish Renaissance 13

Ch. 1 A Golden Age for North American Jewry? 15

Ch. 2 Abraham and Sarah's Tent: Rethinking Intermarriage 24

Ch. 3 A New Judaism for a New Generation: Engaging the Disengaged 45

Ch. 4 Respect, Not Tolerance: Embracing Jewish Diversity and Difference 77

Pt. II Making Renaissance Happen 99

Ch. 5 "Go and Learn": Our Plan of Action 101

Ch. 6 Hillel, Birthright Israel, and Jewish Camping: Bringing Jewish Life to Large Numbers of Jewish Youth 108

Ch. 7 Jewish Leaders: Passing the Torch to a New Generation 144

Ch. 8 Jewish Communal Life: Updating Our Institutions 157

Ch. 9 The Jewish Home 180

Jewish Renaissance Initiatives 201

Interviews Cited 211

Notes 215

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2012

    Carmel

    I gtg also. I'm still babysitting.

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    Posted July 23, 2012

    Nova

    Gtg

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