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Stranger at Home: “The Holocaust,” Zionism, and American Judaism

Stranger at Home: “The Holocaust,” Zionism, and American Judaism

Jacob Neusner

| Wipf & Stock | 2003

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Preeminent Judaic scholar and Zionist Jacob Neusner explores the issue he believes to be at the very heart of American Judaism: how two events remote from the experience of most American Jews have become the twin pillars upon which their worldview is built. These two events—the murder of six million Jews between 1933 and 1945 and the subsequent creation of the State of Israel—form what Neusner calls “the myth of the Holocaust and redemption.”

Stranger at Home scrutinizes the paradox of a central myth generated out of events never witnessed and a place never inhabited by the majority of American Jewry.

Written over a period of nearly 20 years, these essays begin with an analysis of the social and psychological problems confronting American Jews, then explore the implications of the two elements that constitute the mythic vision that begins in death (the Holocaust) and is completed by rebirth (Israel.) Finally Neusner offers his view of the role of Zionism for the Jewish community outside of Israel.

Neusner’s penetrating exposition sheds light on the search for an American minority culture for identity in the context of freedom and free choice and on the process of adaptation of an archaic religious tradition to modernity.

Author Bio

Jacob Neusner (1932–2016) was a preeminent scholar of ancient Judaism and one of the most published authors ever, with more than 900 original volumes to his name. He was educated at Harvard University, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the University of Oxford, and Yale University. He was research professor of theology and senior fellow of the Institute of Advanced Theology at Bard College. Neusner’s work has been highly influential, if sometimes controversial. He pioneered applying “form criticism” to Rabbinic texts, and aimed at a humanistic and academic reading of ancient Jewish literature.

Nesuner’s works include the Jacob Neusner Jewish Studies Bundle (99 vols.).