cover image Turning Points in Jewish History

Turning Points in Jewish History

Marc J. Rosenstein. Jewish Publication Society, $29.95 trade paper (464p) ISBN 978-0-8276-1263-1

Rosenstein (Our Place in the Universe) comprehensively covers Jewish history in a book that’s most likely to be used as a college textbook, though it has some appeal to lay readers. Each chapter contains a “text for discussion” (such as Abraham Joshua Heschel’s discussion of the revelation at Sinai) and the introduction provides a suggestion for the order of assignments to students. With strong overviews of foundational developments throughout Judaism—the exodus from Egypt, the destruction of the first and second temples, the expulsion of Iberian Jewry, the Holocaust, and the founding of the modern state of Israel—readers will appreciate Rosenstein’s evenhanded treatment. Throughout, he adds commentary on primary texts, but his suggestions for further reading are often dated and overly narrow. For example, even with the volume of recent scholarship, all of his four recommended readings about the Holocaust are more than 15 years old and most are more than 40 years old. Despite the lack of suitable references, this book serves as a solid, if sometimes superficial, introductory survey. (July)