Synopses & Reviews
What is "Judaism"? What, if anything, unites ancient Rabbis, Maimonides, the authors of the Zohar, and modern secular Jews in Israel? In "Creating Judaism" Michael L. Satlow offers a new way of understanding Judaism that recognizes both its immense diversity and its unifying features. He argues that, despite changing definitions of Judaism, Jews have continued to see themselves as a "Jewish family," linked by shared traditions and texts.
Presenting a series of portraits of Judaism throughout time and from around the globe, Satlow explores how communities shaped Jewish tradition in light of historical circumstances. He discusses communities such as the Karaites and the geonim, who viewed Jewish tradition through the lens of Islam, the Jews of medieval Spain, the Hasidim of nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, and Jews in the United States. Satlow pays close attention to how communities define and see themselves as Israel, their relationship to biblical and rabbinic textual traditions, and their ritual practices.
How can we define Judaism, and what are the common threads uniting ancient rabbis, Maimonides, the authors of the Zohar, and modern secular Jews in Israel? Michael L. Satlow offers a fresh perspective on Judaism that recognizes both its similarities and its immense diversity. Presenting snapshots of Judaism from around the globe and throughout history, Satlow explores the links between vastly different communities and their Jewish traditions. He studies the geonim, rabbinical scholars who lived in Iraq from the ninth to twelfth centuries; the intellectual flourishing of Jews in medieval Spain; how the Hasidim of nineteenth-century Eastern Europe confronted modernity; and the post-World War II development of distinct American and Israeli Jewish identities. Satlow pays close attention to how communities define themselves, their relationship to biblical and rabbinic texts, and their ritual practices. His fascinating portraits reveal the amazingly creative ways Jews have adapted over time to social and political challenges and continue to remain a Jewish family.