AJS Review

Journal Information
ISSN / EISSN : 0364-0094 / 1475-4541
Published by: Cambridge University Press (CUP) (10.1017)
Total articles ≅ 2,530
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AHCI
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Latest articles in this journal

Verena Kasper-Marienberg, Debra Kaplan
Published: 9 September 2021
Abstract:
This article explores early modern practices of cooking and hospitality, both in and out of homes, in the Jewish ghetto of Frankfurt am Main. The focus is on Garküchen (eateries) and communal ovens, which were increasingly regulated by the community. Communal leaders employed creative strategies to find solutions for nourishing a growing local and visiting population in the limited space of the early modern Jewish ghetto. Their attempts to expand were propelled by concrete historical events, particularly by a series of fires, which shaped the physical spaces in which this process unfolded. Looking at these institutions allows for a reconsideration of the spatial boundaries of the Jewish ghetto.
Published: 23 August 2021
Abstract:
Mid-nineteenth-century Victorian England was roiled by public controversies regarding the legitimacy of biblical criticism, largely fueled by Anglicans and the Church of England establishment. Jews were well aware of these public controversies and even spoke out in a forthright manner. At this very juncture there was also a rather remarkable Jewish scholar, Marcus Kalisch, who began to advance critical notions in his commentary to the Pentateuch, ultimately coming to conclusions not altogether different from the leading critical scholars in Germany. This article explores the way in which Anglo-Jews first avoided, and then finally confronted, Kalisch's work, and what that said about communal sensitivities and self-consciousness.
Moshe Simon-Shoshan
Published: 23 August 2021
Abstract:
This is the first article-length treatment of the famous rabbinic dictum “These and those are the words of the living God, but the Law always follows Beit Hillel.” The statement's significance lies in the innovative manner in which it negotiates the monistic and pluralistic tendencies within the rabbinic tradition. “These and those …” first emerged in the late tannaitic or early amoraic period as a reworking of an earlier Tosefta text. The Yerushalmi, consistent with its overall monistic tendencies, cited this text only for its ruling in favor of Beit Hillel, marginalizing its affirmation that the teachings of Beit Shammai represent “the words of the living God.” The Bavli embraced both the pluralistic and monistic stances of “These and those …” and further placed the declaration in a wider narrative context, imbuing it with social and ethical significance.
Rachel Gordan
Published: 19 August 2021
Abstract:
In recent years, scholars have offered valuable critiques of American Jewish exceptionalism that reveal the historical inaccuracy of an exceptionalist scholarly framework. However, as this essay explains, untethering Jewish studies scholarship completely from exceptionalism discourse may risk overlooking the prevalence of these beliefs and what they tell us about those who propagated them. Exceptionalism does not need to be historically accurate for it to warrant attention from scholars. Nor must scholars approve of exceptionalism, or deem it a positive, for it to be a worthy subject of study. Scholars may indeed view American Jewish exceptionalism as a fantasy that prevents believers from seeing the reality—in particular the problems—of their situation, but the fact that this fantasy had so many fervent espousers should make it a matter of interest. Examining the trail of American Jewish exceptionalist voices reveals the multiple ways these voices have been deployed.
Published: 19 August 2021
Abstract:
This article suggests that bringing Jewish literature and Jewish thought into conversation can deepen our understanding of each. As an illustration of this interdisciplinary methodology, I offer a reading of Cynthia Ozick's 1987 Messiah of Stockholm. I claim that Ozick has embedded an argument about the relationship of post-Holocaust Jewry to the past into the literary features of her novel. Her argument draws in particular upon Leo Baeck's account of Judaism as focused on the present and future in contrast to the worshipful approach to the past characteristic of other religions. At the same time, I offer a more nuanced take on the fear of idolatry so often noted in analyses of Ozick's work and situate that fear in relationship to the literary theories of her predecessor Bruno Schulz, who plays a key role in the novel, and her contemporary Harold Bloom.
Published: 16 April 2021
Abstract:
בשנים האחרונות מתמלאים מדי שבוע לוחות המודעות בירושלים במודעות המעודדות את ציבור המאמינים לקחת חלק בהתכנסויות, הילולות, ועליות לרגל. מודעות אלו מכריזות על כנסים דתיים שנערכים ליד קברי רבנים וצדיקים מקומיים ועל תפילות המעניקות למשתטחים סגולות שונות.
Yoel Marciano
Published: 16 April 2021
AJS Review, Volume 45, pp 95-119; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0364009420000434

Abstract:
ʾOrekh yamim (Length of days; Constantinople, 1560), a short book of guidelines on educating children and maintaining a religious and moral family life, was written by Rabbi Samuel Benveniste, who belonged to one of the communities of exiles from Spain in the sixteenth-century Ottoman Empire. This article analyzes the information that emerges from the guidebook on the state of education and family life in Jewish society of the time. Parents' great fear of child mortality and its effect on their educational conduct is prominent throughout the book, lending it its title. Although child mortality was equally prevalent in all parts of society, the article highlights the posttraumatic experience of Spanish exiles who lost many children in their travails, and suggests seeing the immense anxiety expressed in the essay against this background. In addition, Benveniste's admonitions concerning women's immorality, while characteristic of writings of his time, provide an interesting view of the social norms of his era: he depicts women's swearing by the lives of their children, their cursing, their wish to adorn themselves with jewelry, as well as the difficulties of their daily lives.
Published: 16 April 2021
AJS Review, Volume 45, pp 76-94; https://doi.org/10.1017/s0364009420000422

Abstract:
This study is a comparative reading of two distinct narrative traditions with remarkably similar features of plot and content. The first tradition is from the Palestinian midrash Kohelet Rabbah, datable to the fifth to sixth centuries. The second is from John Moschos's Spiritual Meadow (Pratum spirituale), which is very close to Kohelet Rabbah in time and place. Although quite similar, the two narratives differ in certain respects. Pioneers of modern Judaic studies such as Samuel Krauss and Louis Ginzberg had been interested in the question of the relationships between early Christian authors and the rabbis; however, the relationships between John Moschos and Palestinian rabbinic writings have never been systematically treated (aside from one enlightening study by Hillel Newman). Here, in this case study, I ask comparative questions: Did Kohelet Rabbah borrow the tradition from Christian lore; or was the church author impressed by the teachings of Kohelet Rabbah? Alternatively, perhaps, might both have learned the shared story from a common continuum of local narrative tradition? Beyond these questions about literary dependence, I seek to understand the shared narrative in its cultural context.
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