The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism

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Overview

In this unique collection of essays, some of today's smartest Jewish thinkers explore a broad range of fundamental questions in an effort to balance ancient tradition and modern sexuality.

In the last few decades a number of factors—post-modernism, feminism, queer liberation, and more—have brought discussion of sexuality to the fore, and with it a whole new set of questions that challenge time-honored traditions and ways of thinking. For Jews of all backgrounds, this has often led to an unhappy standoff between tradition and sexual empowerment.

Yet as The Passionate Torah illustrates, it is of critical importance to see beyond this apparent conflict if Jews are to embrace both their religious beliefs and their sexuality. With incisive essays from contemporary rabbis, scholars, thinkers, and writers, this collection not only surveys the challenges that sexuality poses to Jewish belief, but also offers fresh new perspectives and insights on the changing place of sexuality within Jewish theology—and Jewish lives. Covering topics such as monogamy, inter-faith relationships, reproductive technology, homosexuality, and a host of other hot-button issues, these writings consider how contemporary Jews can engage themselves, their loved ones, and their tradition in a way that's both sexy and sanctified.

Seeking to deepen the Jewish conversation about sexuality, The Passionate Torah brings together brilliant thinkers in an attempt to bridge the gap between the sacred and the sexual.

Contributors: Rebecca Alpert, Wendy Love Anderson, Judith R. Baskin, Aryeh Cohen, Elliot Dorff, Esther Fuchs, Bonna Haberman, Elliot Kukla, Gail Labovitz, Malka Landau, Sarra Lev, Laura Levitt, Sara Meirowitz, Jay Michaelson, Haviva Ner-David, Danya Ruttenberg, Naomi Seidman, and Arthur Waskow.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

" . . . the questions that these distinguished authors raise are important for rabbis to ponder as they are precisely the questions and the discourse that many of our youth confront each day in academia."-Rabbi Ruth Gelfarb,CCAR Journal: The Reform Jewish Quarterly

"The Passionate Torah brings together brilliant thinkers in an attempt to bridge the gap between the sacred and the sexual."-JewishMediaReview,

“It is not often that an academic title about religion stimulates other parts of the body as well as the mind. Yet that is what Ruttenberg, a rabbi, and the seventeen contributors to this collection of essays have accomplished. Ruttenberg, a wunderkind of Jewish feminism, leads the reader through an often racy reconsideration of what the sacred Jewish texts say about our most intimate relationships.”
-Publishers Weekly

,

“Ruttenberg, a dynamic young rabbi and memoirist, takes a different tack than her predecessors, including not only academics but also activists like Jewish Renewal stalwart Arthur Waskow and Orthodox feminist Haviva Ner-David. Ruttenberg groups the essays under rubrics of ‘I-It,’ ‘I-Thou,’ and ‘We-Thou’ relationships, which might sound a little kinky, but is really just her way of echoing Martin Buber and of suggesting how variously Jews in different times and places relate to their sexuality.”
-Tablet Magazine

,

The Passionate Torah is not a guidebook to ‘kosher sex,’ as Chabad emissary turned high-profile media figure Shmuley Boteach called one of his best-selling books, but rather an assemblage of eighteen essays that apply cutting-edge scholarship to the way the Jewish sources deal with subjects like birth control, homosexuality, premarital sex, niddah (the laws that separate a woman from her husband while she is menstruating), masturbation, and more.”
-Haaretz

,

Publishers Weekly

It is not often that an academic title about religion stimulates other parts of the body as well as the mind. Yet that is what Ruttenberg, a rabbi, and the 17 contributors to this collection of essays have accomplished. Ruttenberg, a wunderkind of Jewish feminism, leads the reader through an often racy reconsideration of what the sacred Jewish texts say about our most intimate relationships. Along the way there is a lot of fun-see the story about the naked rabbi and the prostitute who marries him. But Ruttenberg et al. never lose sight of their goal: to uncover new ideas about treating those we love with the respect, kindness and honor inherent in the teachings of Judaism. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814776049
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2009
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Danya Ruttenberg is a rabbi and author of Surprised By God and editor of the anthology Yentl’s Revenge. She serves as contributing editor to both Lilith and Women in Judaism. She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

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