What is Judaism?: An Interpretation for the Present Age

Emil Fackenheim, Author Summit Books $18.45 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-46243-7
In the wake of the Holocaust, the eminent philosopher (The Jewish Return into History: Reflections in the Age of Auschwitz & a New Jerusalem, etc.), a Holocaust survivor, seeks to ""chart a path for a future Judaism.'' The disappointing result is a curious, neither seminal nor comprehensive, overview of Judaism past and present. Peppered with midrashic stories, the work wrestles with uncomfortable traditional concepts like that of the chosen people, and contrives links between historical episodes and the Holocaust (Nazism, for example, is described as a modern idolatry; during the three weeks preceding the Six-Day War, Jews, he claims, were threatened by a second Holocaust). Readers may find Fackenheim severe and condescending: he considers any human being to be less than human and any Jew less than Jewish who, aware of the Holocaust, has not imagined himself or herself in a cattlecar at least once; he gears the book toward ``amcha,'' the ``ordinary Jewish folk who may not be learned or saintly but are far from frivolous, unintelligent, unwilling to learn and . . . thoughtless''). Jewish Book Club alternate. (October 7)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1987
Release date: 10/01/1987
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