Secularism in Question
Jews and Judaism in Modern TimesUniversity of Pennsylvania Press Jewish Culture and Contexts
For much of the twentieth century, most religious and secular Jewish thinkers believed that they were witnessing a steady, ongoing movement toward secularization. Toward the end of the century, however, as scholars and pundits began to speak of the global resurgence of religion, the normalization of secularism could no longer be considered inevitable. Recent decades have seen the strengthening of Orthodox movements in the United States and in Israel; religious Zionism has grown and radically changed since the 1960s, and new and vibrant nondenominational Jewish movements have emerged.
Secularism in Question examines the ways these contemporary revivals of religion prompt a reconsideration of many issues concerning Jews and Judaism from the early modern era to the present. Bringing together scholars of history, religion, philosophy, and literature, this volume illustrates how the categories of "religious" and "secular" have frequently proven far more permeable than fixed. The contributors challenge the problematic assumptions about the development of secularism that emerge from Protestant European and American perspectives and demonstrate that global Jewish experiences necessitate a reappraisal of conventional narratives of secularism. Ultimately, Secularism in Question calls for rethinking the very terms that animate many of the most contentious debates in contemporary Jewish life and far beyond.
Contributors: Michal Ben-Horin, Aryeh Edrei, Jonathan Mark Gribetz, Ari Joskowicz, Ethan B. Katz, Eva Lezzi, Vivian Liska, Rachel Manekin, David Myers, Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, Andrea Schatz, Christophe Schulte, Daniel B. Schwartz, Galili Shahar, Scott Ury.
Introduction. Rethinking Jews and Secularism
—Ari Joskowicz and Ethan Katz
PART I. NARRATIONS
Chapter 1. "Our Rabbi Baruch": Spinoza and Radical Jewish Enlightenment
—Daniel B. Schwartz
Chapter 2. Reading Mendelssohn in Late Ottoman Palestine: An Islamic Theory of Jewish Secularism
—Jonathan Marc Gribetz
Chapter 3. Tradition and the Hidden: Hannah Arendt's Secularization of Jewish Mysticism
PART II. TRANSFORMATIONS
Chapter 4. Messianism Without Messiah: Messianism, Religion, and Secularization in Modern Jewish Thought
Chapter 5. In the Name of the Devil: Reading Walter Benjamin's "Agesilaus Santander"
Chapter 6. The Secular and Its Dissonances in Modern Jewish Literature
Chapter 7. Civil Society, Secularization, and Modernity Among Jews in Turn-of-the-Century Eastern Europe
Chapter 8. Secular French Nationhood and Its Discontents: Jews as Muslims and Religion as Race in Occupied France
PART III. ADAPTATIONS
Chapter 9. Galician Haskalah and the Discourse of Schwärmerei
Chapter 10. Secularism and Neo-Orthodoxy: Conflicting Strategies in Modern Orthodox Fiction
Chapter 11. Secularism and Nationalism: The Modern Halakhic Discourse on the Identity and Boundaries of the Jewish Community
PART IV. NEW CONCEPTIONS: A FORUM
Chapter 12. Between Supersessionism and Atavism: Toward a Neosecular View of Religion
—David N. Myers
Chapter 13. Secularism, the Christian Ambivalence Toward the Jews, and the Notion of Exile
Chapter 14. "Eleven Calendars": Beyond Secular Time
List of Contributors
"Ari Joskowicz and Ethan Katz have offered an embarrassment of riches in this fine volume . . . of collected essays of such uniformly high quality and originality . . . The overall virtue of this book is to challenge and revise a number of shopworn assumptions in the study of Jewish secularism. Rather than regarding the secularization of the Jews as solely the product of external forces, the authors here are attentive to the inner dynamics of this process. But they-and especially the editors in their introduction-are also aware of the need for a comparative approach to the subject."—Politics, Religion & Ideology
"This volume has an excellent subject and an important agenda . . . [It] aspires to e-imagine the field by challenging 'the very terms that animate many of the most contentious debates in contemporary Jewish life.' It is surprisingly successful in doing so."—Journal of Contemporary History
"This is an important book. It deals intelligently with the issues of secularism from many different perspectives and contexts and will be of great interest to students and scholars of modernization, Jewish studies, and religion."—Richard I. Cohen, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem