Whose Torah?: A Concise Guide to Progressive Judaism

Overview

Noted scholar and groundbreaking rabbi Rebecca Alpert discusses what the Torah actually says about sex, war, poverty, the environment, and other major contemporary issues.

"Jews believe in a God whose main interest was to take a bunch of rebellious slaves and set them free from oppression—who could top that?"—from Whose Torah?

Rabbi Rebecca Alpert is a leading voice in ...
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Overview

Noted scholar and groundbreaking rabbi Rebecca Alpert discusses what the Torah actually says about sex, war, poverty, the environment, and other major contemporary issues.

"Jews believe in a God whose main interest was to take a bunch of rebellious slaves and set them free from oppression—who could top that?"—from Whose Torah?

Rabbi Rebecca Alpert is a leading voice in progressive Judaism. A crusader for reform within the Jewish community, she was one of the first women in Jewish history to be ordained a rabbi. Alpert is a celebrated teacher, an expert on Jewish American religious history, and a key public advocate for progressive social issues in contemporary Jewish life.

In Whose Torah?, Alpert sketches a compelling portrait of the progressive values that belong to the core of Judaism today. Reaching deeply into the sources of Jewish tradition, she highlights with unflinching moral clarity the textual basis for a truly just vision of life for all who care about sexual, economic, and racial justice and for those who would oppose all forms of discrimination, unjust war, and the destruction of the environment. Alpert also carefully considers what it means to be Jewish in contemporary America—offering both a passionate and deeply learned defense of progressive Jewish identity.

Whose Torah? will be an essential intellectual resource for progressive Jews and for anyone searching for the religious underpinnings of contemporary progressive politics.

About the series: Titles in the Whose Religion? series will spark a spirited and substantive public debate over Catholicism, Protestantism,Judaism, and Islam and where each stands on today's most pressing issues: poverty, the environment, war, sex, race, and women's equality. In these books, noted progressive religious leaders present persuasive and profound examinations of religious belief, justice, and public policy in America.

Debunking widely held assumptions about these religions as inherently conservative on current issues, the books in Whose Religion? will offer powerful intellectual and inspirational tools for anyone grappling with a religious framework, whether to chart their own personal spiritual and moral course or to challenge the religious right and its co-option of religion for political gain.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

In this thoughtful, articulate, and well-reasoned treatise, Alpert (religion & women's studies, Temple Univ.), one of the first women to be ordained as a reconstructionist rabbi, argues for the value of progressive and liberal Judaism reclaiming itself as a religion rooted in the pursuit of justice. Tackling complex and controversial moral and political issues such as homosexuality, abortion, race relations, the peace movement, and the need to deal more effectively with issues of poverty and the state of the environment, Alpert invokes "a loving and compassionate God who wants justice for the Jewish people and the world," using the book of Deuteronomy's notion of the phrase tzedek, tzedek, tirdof as an alembic through which to evaluate the concept of true justice and compassion. Never strident and always attempting to acknowledge the more conservative and traditional positions of historical and religious Jewish thought and teachings, Alpert expresses a much-needed balanced perspective on complex and important issues facing Jews and others. She is able to write both for an audience familiar with traditional biblical texts and for those less familiar with established Jewish religion and traditions. Recommended for synagogue libraries and Judaic study collections.
—Herbert E. Shapiro

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595583369
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 6/1/2008
  • Series: Whose Religion? Series
  • Pages: 164
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Rebecca Alpert is the chair of the religion department and an associate professor of religion and women's studies at Temple University and was one of the first women in Jewish history to be ordained a rabbi. She has written widely on progressive religion and Judaism; among her books are Like Bread on the Seder Plate and Exploring Judaism (with Jacob Straub). She lives in Philadelphia. Elaine Pagels, Harrington Spear Paine Foundation Professor of Religion at Princeton University, is the author of numerous widely acclaimed books on Gnosticism and early Christianity, including The Gnostic Gospels, Beyond Belief, and Reading Judas.
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Table of Contents

Foreword Elaine Pagels Pagels, Elaine

Introduction 1

1 Sexuality 19

2 Gender Justice 45

3 Race 65

4 War and Peace 87

5 Poverty 109

6 The Environment 129

Conclusion: Where Do We Go from Here? 149

Acknowledgments 155

Notes 159

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