I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl


When Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was brutally murdered in Pakistan, many Jews were particularly touched by his last words affirming his Jewish identity. Many were moved to reflect on or analyze their feelings toward their lives as Jews. The saying "two Jews, three opinions" well reflects the Jewish community's broad range of views on any topic. I Am Jewish captures this richness of interpretation and inspires Jewish people of all backgrounds to reflect upon and take pride in their identity. ...
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When Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was brutally murdered in Pakistan, many Jews were particularly touched by his last words affirming his Jewish identity. Many were moved to reflect on or analyze their feelings toward their lives as Jews. The saying "two Jews, three opinions" well reflects the Jewish community's broad range of views on any topic. I Am Jewish captures this richness of interpretation and inspires Jewish people of all backgrounds to reflect upon and take pride in their identity. Contributions, ranging from major essays to a paragraph or a sentence, come from adults as well as young people in the form of personal feelings, statements of theology, life stories, and historical reflections. Despite the diversity, common denominators shine through clearly and distinctly.

This inspiring collection presents answers from Jewish people around the world -- artists, entertainers, government leaders, authors, media personalities, scientists, community organizers, scholars, rabbis, and others -- covering the religious, professional, and political spectrum. In this critical time in our history, I Am Jewish will motivate people throughout the Jewish community to think about their lives as Jews, and have a profound effect on the way younger Jews shape their identity in years to come. It will help people of all faiths and backgrounds to better understand Jewish people and Judaism.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In February 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was brutally murdered by terrorists in Karachi, Pakistan. Just before he died, he said, "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish." His parents decided to honor his memory by asking several hundred Jews to record their reactions to his words-statements that form the core of this book. Most of the 146 contributors are well-known authors, educators, rabbis, reporters, entertainers and political figures, including Joseph Lieberman, Michael Medved, Dennis Prager, Elie Wiesel, Dianne Feinstein, Kerri Strug, Richard Dreyfuss and Wendy Wasserstein. The length of their statements varies from a sentence or two to essays that cover several pages. Their thoughts are organized around the five basic themes of identity; heritage; covenant, chosenness and faith; humanity; and tikkun ha'olam (repairing the world). The respondents provide anecdotes, theological formulations, personal reactions, biblical references and historical reflections, ranging widely from the superficial to the profound. Among the few Israeli contributors is Avrum Burg, an outspoken critic of the Sharon government and its policies. He argues eloquently that being a Jew places on him a special obligation to work for peace. Others place different constructions on what it means to be Jewish. Lack of consensus highlights the extreme variations in Jewish views, indicating that one value of this collection is its demonstration that a healthy diversity of opinion continues to characterize the Jewish community. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Inspired by the last words of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl, the contributors to this volume muse on the phrase "I am Jewish" and seek to answer the question of what it means to be a Jew for themselves. The short responses come from well-known public figures (e.g., Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Elie Wiesel), academics (Ruth Wisse, Lawrence Summers, Leon Botstein), artists and writers (Cynthia Ozick, Wendy Wasserstein, Thomas Friedman, Amos Oz), and media personalities and entertainers (Larry King, Mike Wallace, Jackie Mason, Richard Dreyfus). Also included are responses from less well-known Jews and average citizens. Grouped into categories such as "Identity," "Heritage," "Covenant," and "Tikkun Ha Olam" (Repairing the World), the responses take a wide range of approaches. Some are based on a family memoir or anecdote, while others are more philosophical, theological, or political. The eclectic nature of the contributors makes for a varied level of sophistication, thoughtfulness, and comprehensiveness-but maybe that's the point. Collectively, this volume demonstrates the varied nature of Jewish identity in the world today, which will be of interest for large contemporary Judaica collections.-Herbert E. Shapiro, Empire State Coll. of SUNY, Rochester Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580232593
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights Publishing
  • Publication date: 2/1/2005
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 301
  • Sales rank: 256,060
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

Sylvia Boorstein is cofounding teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California, and a senior teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. She lectures nationally on Buddhism and mindfulness, and teaches Vipassana and Metta meditation.

Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and author of many books.

Debbie Friedman, the beloved late singer-songwriter, transformed modern Jewish music and was called "the Joan Baez of Jewish song." Her albums have sold over half a million copies, she performed forty to fifty concerts a year worldwide, including performances at Carnegie Hall, and she is subject of the documentary film A Journey of the Spirit. Her fan following continues to be emotional and strong.

A world-renowned philosopher and social activist, Dr. David Hartman (z"l) is the founder and president emeritus of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Named after his late father, the Institute is dedicated to developing a new understanding of classical Judaism that provides moral and spiritual direction for Judaism's confrontation with modernity.

Presently professor emeritus at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he received his rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University's theological seminary in New York City. He is the author of many award-winning books, including A Living Covenant: The Innovative Spirit in Traditional Judaism (Jewish Lights) and Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest, both winners of the National Jewish Book Award; A Heart of Many Rooms: Celebrating the Many Voices within Judaism (Jewish Lights), finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and a Publishers Weekly "Best Book of the Year"; and Love and Terror in the God Encounter: The Theological Legacy of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (Jewish Lights).

Harold S. Kushner is rabbi laureate of Temple Israel of Natick in
Natick, Massachusetts.

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner is one of the most widely read authors by people of all faiths on Jewish spiritual life. He is the best-selling author of such books as Invisible Lines of Connection: Sacred Stories of the Ordinary; God Was in This Place & I, i Did Not Know: Finding Self, Spirituality and Ultimate Meaning; Honey from the Rock: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism; The Book of Letters: A Mystical Hebrew Alphabet; The Book of Miracles: A Young Person's Guide to Jewish Spiritual Awareness; The Book of Words: Talking Spiritual Life, Living Spiritual Talk; Eyes Remade for Wonder: A Lawrence Kushner Reader; I'm God, You're Not: Observations on Organized Religion and other Disguises of the Ego; Jewish Spirituality: A Brief Introduction for Christians; The River of Light: Jewish Mystical Awareness; The Way Into Jewish Mystical Tradition; and co-author of Because Nothing Looks Like God; How Does God Make Things Happen?; Where Is God?; What Does God Look Like?; and In God's Hands. He is the Emanu-El Scholar at San Francisco's Congregation Emanu-El and an adjunct professor of Jewish mysticism and spirituality at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion.

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner is available to speak on the following topics:

• Jewish Mystical Imagination

• Rymanover's Silent Aleph: What Really Happened on Sinai

• Zohar on Romance and Revelation

• What Makes Kabbalah Kabbalah

• Sacred Stories of the Ordinary: When God Makes a Surprise Appearance in Everyday Life

Click here to contact the author.

Ruth W. Messinger is the president of American Jewish World Service. She contributed to We Have Sinned: Sin and Confession in Judaism—Ashamnu and Al Chet, Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un'taneh Tokef and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (both Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, a parent, spiritual leader, and storyteller, is the awardwinning author of God's Paintbrush, In God's Name, God In Between and many other inspiring books for children of all faiths and backgrounds. The second woman to be ordained as a rabbi (1974) and the first rabbi to become a mother, she and her husband, Dennis, were the first rabbinical couple to jointly lead a congregation—Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis. They have two children, David and Debora, and three grandchildren. Sasso, who holds a doctorate in ministry, is active in the interfaith community, and has written and lectured on the renewal of spirituality and the discovery of the religious imagination in children of all faiths.
Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Nurturing the Spiritual Imagination of Children
  • Tell Me a Story: Reading the Bible and the Religious Imagination of Children
  • Filling in the Blanks: How Women Read the Bible
  • Women and Judaism: A Personal Journey
  • Midrash as a Tool for Spiritual Reflection

Click here to contact the author.

Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi, the inspiration of the Jewish Renewal movement, is widely recognized as one of the most important Jewish spiritual teachers of our time. Professor emeritus at Temple University, he has contributed to Jewish Mysticism and the Spiritual Life: Classical Texts, Contemporary Reflections, and is the author of Jewish with Feeling: A Guide to Meaningful Jewish Practice, Davening: A Guide to Meaningful Jewish Prayer, winner of the National Jewish Book Award; First Steps to a New Jewish Spirit: Reb Zalman's Guide to Recapturing the Intimacy & Ecstasy in Your Relationship with God, (all Jewish Lights); From Age-ing to Sage-ing; and Wrapped in a Holy Flame, among other books.

Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, one of the most respected spiritual leaders and teachers of his generation, has been a rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California, for close to forty years. He is the founding chairman of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, an organization that identifies and offers grants to those non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews threatened by the agents of Nazi savagery. He is also the founder of Jewish World Watch, which aims to raise moral consciousness within the Jewish community. Synagogues and other religious institutions are now supporting this effort across the country.

Rabbi Schulweis is the author of many books, including: Conscience: The Duty to Obey and the Duty to Disobey (Jewish Lights), Approaches to the Philosophy of Religion, For Those Who Can't Believe, Finding Each Other in Judaism, In God's Mirror, and two books of original religious poetry and meditation—From Birth to Immortality and Passages in Poetry. His Evil and the Morality of God is regarded as a classic.

Elie Wiesel is a Holocaust survivor and an award winning novelist, journalist and human rights activist. He is the founding chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. His writing is considered among the most important in Holocaust literature.

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Table of Contents

Publisher's Note xv
Preface xvii
Part I Identity
Avraham Burg 3
Ruth R. Wisse 7
Joshua Malina 10
Irwin Cotler 10
Lawrence H. Summers 13
Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi 14
The Right Honourable The Lord Woolf 18
Angela Warnick Buchdahl 19
A. B. Yehoshua 20
Michael Chlenov 23
Daniel Schorr 23
Stefanie Stoler 28
Maureen Lipman 28
Mike Wallace 30
Natan Sharansky 31
Norman Lear 34
David Horovitz 34
Kitty Dukakis 36
Jamie Sistino 37
Thomas L. Friedman 37
Bernice Rubens 40
Leon Botstein 41
Part II Heritage
Shimon Peres 45
Cynthia Ozick 49
Ruth Pearl 50
Larry King 51
Sarah Rosenbaum 54
W. Michael Blumenthal 54
Tamara Pearl 55
Spencer Newman 56
Sylvia Boorstein 57
David J. Azrieli 60
Martin Peretz 60
Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine 63
Jade Ransohoff 65
Wendy Wasserstein 65
Sarah Silverman 66
Moshe Katsav 67
Amanda 70
Lord Greville Janner 70
Alana Frey 73
Itay 75
Richard Dreyfuss 75
Roald Hoffmann 76
Vidal Sassoon 77
Ida Haendel 78
Daniel Libeskind 79
Jackie Mason 80
Maurice Levy 81
Rabbi Rachel B. Cowan 82
Milton Friedman 84
Liz Lerman 84
Daniel Gill 85
David Suissa 86
Yefim Bronfman 87
Shelley R. Deutch Tayar 87
Douglas Rushkoff 90
Gloria Goldreich 91
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen 92
Ephraim Kishon 93
Menachem Z. Rosensaft 94
Robert Rabinovitch 96
Naim Dangoor 97
Kerri Strug 98
Sir Martin Gilbert 99
Deborah E. Lipstadt 100
Bernard Lewis 102
Part III Covenant, Chosenness, and Faith
Senator Joe Lieberman 107
Robyn J. Friedman 108
Dr. David Hartman 109
Eric H. Yoffie 114
Sarah Levin 117
Alan Dershowitz 117
Rabbi Lawrence Kushner 120
Felicia Lilien 121
Arno Penzias 122
Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann 124
Shia LaBeouf 126
Sandy Eisenberg Sasso 127
Amos Oz 131
Samantha Schram 132
Rabbi Israel Meir Lau 132
Leon Wieseltier 134
Naomi Ragen 136
Gershom Sizomu 137
Michael H. Steinhardt 139
Dennis Prager 140
Kirk Douglas 142
Dr. Richard A. Lerner 143
Julius Lester 144
Chaim Kramer 145
Josef Joffe 146
Rabbi Uri Regev 148
Thane Rosenbaum 152
Richard Siegel 153
Michael Medved 155
Jim Ball 156
Rabbi Kenneth J. Leinwand 157
Norman Lamm 158
Larry S. Moses 161
Rabbi Tony Bayfield 162
Harold Kushner 164
Part IV Humanity and Ethnicity
Elie Wiesel 169
Samuel G. Freedman 170
Jonathan Sacks 173
Matt Putney 175
Michelle Pearl 176
Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis 177
Ehud Barak 181
Bernard-Henri Levy 182
David Grossman 185
Tovah Feldshuh 186
Nadine Gordimer 187
Theodore Bikel 188
Judea Pearl 190
Eran Rotshenker 192
Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller 192
Anne Roiphe 194
Dr. Uri D. Herscher 195
Alexander Militarev 197
Part V Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) and Justice
Ruth Bader Ginsburg 201
Jonathan Freedland 202
Stephen H. Hoffman 204
Gary Shteyngart 205
Lynn Schusterman 206
Rabbi Jacqueline Tabick 209
David Colburn 210
Judy Feld Carr 212
Robin Kramer 213
Richard N. Goldman 215
Tullia Zevi 216
Peter Yarrow 217
Francine Klagsbrun 221
Hanoch Greenberg 222
Sjalom Awraham Soetendorp 223
Alan Colmes 225
Ruth W. Messinger 225
Rosalie Silberman Abella 227
Senator Dianne Feinstein 228
Bernard Kouchner 229
Zev Yaroslavsky 231
Simone Veil 232
Daniel Kahneman 233
Rabbi Naamah Kelman 234
Roger Cukierman 238
Edgar M. Bronfman 239
Debbie Friedman 241
Acknowledgments 243
Glossary 245
Index of Contributors 247
Credits 251
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2004

    Insightful and Inspirational

    While no one can approximate the pain of the Pearls, this book takes their unfortunate experience pain and transforms it into a book of hope and inspiration for all of us. While this is a particularly Jewish book, it procides a great deal of insight to those who are in an interfaith relationship and the American public in general. One entry is more powerful than the next. I read it from cover to cover in one sitting but I know I will continue to return to it regularly.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2004

    A stunning display of the richness and variety of Jewish identity

    I think that anyone who takes interest in the meaning of what it is to be Jewish can learn from this work. The contributors use their individual life experience, and the special challenges each has known to provide insight into the value of Judaism for them. One central theme is of course the Jewish respect for the dignity of the human being, a kind of respect not at all present in the haters and murderers of the kind that so cruelly took Daniel Pearl's life. Reading this work one feels not only a new hope for the Jewish , but also for the human future. Perhaps those who love their fellow human beings will be the ones who will after all triumph in reshaping the human future.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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