New Books in Jewish Studies
New Books in Jewish Studies
Marshall Poe
Interview with Scholars of Judaism about their New Books Support our show by becoming a premium member!
John Tolan, "England's Jews: Finance, Violence, and the Crown in the Thirteenth Century" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2023)
In 1290, Jews were expelled from England and subsequently largely expunged from English historical memory. Yet for two centuries they occupied important roles in mediaeval English society. England’s Jews revisits this neglected chapter of English history—one whose remembrance is more important than ever today, as antisemitism and other forms of racism are on the rise. In England's Jews: Finance, Violence, and the Crown in the Thirteenth Century (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023), Dr. John Tolan tells the story of the thousands of Jews who lived in mediaeval England. Protected by the Crown and granted the exclusive right to loan money with interest, Jews financed building projects, provided loans to students, and bought and rented out housing. Historical texts show that they shared meals and beer, celebrated at weddings, and sometimes even ended up in bed with Christians. Yet Church authorities feared the consequences of Jewish contact with Christians and tried to limit it, though to little avail. Royal protection also proved to be a double-edged sword: when revolts broke out against the unpopular king Henry III, some of the rebels, in debt to Jewish creditors, killed Jews and destroyed loan records. Vicious rumours circulated that Jews secretly plotted against Christians and crucified Christian children. All of these factors led Edward I to expel the Jews from England in 1290. Paradoxically, Dr. Tolan shows, thirteenth-century England was both the theatre of fruitful interreligious exchange and a crucible of European antisemitism.  This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose new book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Apr 22
58 min
Chris Webb, "The Sobibor Death Camp: History, Biographies, Remembrance" (Ibidem Verlag, 2017)
The Sobibor Death Camp was the second extermination camp built by the Nazis as part of the secretive Operation Reinhardt--with intent to carry out the mass murder of Polish Jewry. Following the construction of the extermination camp at Belzec in south-eastern Poland from November 1941 to March 1942, the Nazis planned a second extermination camp at Sobibor, and the third and deadliest camp was built near the remote village of Treblinka. Sobibor was similarly designed as the first camp in Belzec, it was regarded as an 'overflow' camp for Belzec. This account of the Nazis' remorseless and relentless production line of killing at the Sobibor death camp tells of one of the worst crimes in the history of mankind. Chris Webb's painstakingly researched volume ranges from the survivors and the victims to the SS men who carried out the atrocities. The Sobibor Death Camp: History, Biographies, Remembrance (Ibidem Verlag, 2017) covers the construction of the death camp, the physical layout of the camp, as remembered by both the Jewish inmates and the SS staff who served there, and the personal recollections that detail the day to day experiences of the prisoners and the SS. The courageous revolt by the prisoners on October 14, 1943 is re-told by the prisoners and the German SS, with detailed accounts of the revolt and its aftermath. The post-war fate of the perpetrators, or more precisely those that were brought to trial, and information regarding the more recent history of the site itself concludes this book. There is a large photographic section of rare, previously unpublished photographs and documents from the author's private archive. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Apr 22
1 hr 5 min
On the History and Evolution of Zionism
On today's episode of the New Books Network, we are privileged to have Professor Arie Dubnov joining us for an in-depth discussion on the multifaceted history and evolution of Zionism. Professor Dubnov is the Max Ticktin Chair of Israel Studies at George Washington University and a preeminent scholar on Zionist thought and nationalist movements. His acclaimed works include the intellectual biography Isaiah Berlin: The Journey of a Jewish Liberal (Palgrave MacMillan, 2012) and the edited volumes Zionism - A View from the Outside and Partitions: A Transnational History of Twentieth-Century Territorial Separatism (Stanford UP, 2019). In this comprehensive interview, Professor Dubnov draws from his current research project examining the interwar ties between Zionist and British imperial thinkers. He provides a sweeping analysis tracing Zionism's diverse ideological currents and how they manifested from the movement's origins through the tumultuous events surrounding Israeli statehood in 1948 and into our present era. With his profound insights, Professor Dubnov illuminates the complex social, political and intellectual forces that shaped Zionism over decades, offering a nuanced perspective on this influential nationalist ideology's evolving place in regional and global contexts. This thought-provoking discussion promises a masterclass on the rich histories and ongoing reverberations of Zionisms. Roberto Mazza is currently a visiting lecturer at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at Twitter and IG: @robbyref Website: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Apr 22
1 hr 32 min
Steven Nadler, "Spinoza: A Life" (Cambridge UP, 2022)
Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677) was one of the most important philosophers of all time; he was also one of the most radical and controversial. The story of Spinoza's life takes the reader into the heart of Jewish Amsterdam in the seventeenth century and, with Spinoza's exile from Judaism, into the midst of the tumultuous political, social, intellectual, and religious world of the young Dutch Republic.  This new edition of Steven Nadler's Spinoza: A Life (Cambridge UP, 2022), winner of the Koret Jewish Book Award for biography and translated into a dozen languages, is enhanced by exciting new archival discoveries about his family background, his youth, and the various philosophical, political, and religious contexts of his life and works. There is more detail about his family's business and communal activities, about his relationships with friends and correspondents, and about the development of his writings, which were so scandalous to his contemporaries. Steven Nadler is the William H. Hay, II, Professor of Philosophy, Evjue-Bascom Professor in Humanities and Weinstein-Bascom Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the author or editor of over twenty books, winner of the 2000 Koret Jewish Book Award for biography with Spinoza: A Life (Cambridge, 1999) and a Pulitzer Prize finalist with Rembrandt's Jews (2004). His books have been translated into over twenty languages. Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube channel. Twitter. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Apr 22
35 min
Robert Rozett and Iael Nidam-Orvieto, "After So Much Pain and Anguish: First Letters After Liberation" (Yad Vashem, 2016)
After So Much Pain and Anguish: First Letters After Liberation (Yad Vashem, 2016) comprises letters written by survivors and liberating soliders in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust, reflecting their extreme mixed emotions. The survivors express their sigh of relief at liberation intertwined with the anguish of irreparable loss, and even utterances of hope for a better tomorrow. The letters articulate the first signs of life after liberation, giving moving accounts of suffering, loss and destruction. They convey cries of grief while displaying an outstretched hand from a devastated world longing to touch loved ones still whole. This collection is a raw and powerful body of firsthand testimony of the catastrophe that struck the Jewish people, forming an important record of the most horrific and ignoble period of the twentieth century. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Apr 21
55 min
Stuart Halpern and Jacob Kupietzky, "The Promise of Liberty: A Passover Haggada" (Maggid, 2024)
In The Promise of Liberty: A Passover Haggada (Maggid, 2024) you will find, alongside the traditional Haggada text, how American abolitionists and artists, pilgrims and presidents, rabbis and revolutionaries, jazz critics and generals found inspiration in the Exodus story. From Sojourner Truth to the struggle to free Soviet Jewry, Harriet Tubman to Harry Truman, Mark Twain to Martin Luther King Jr., the Jewish story of redemption has inspired Americans of all backgrounds, from the country’s inception to today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Apr 19
17 min
Debby Koren, "Responsa in a Historical Context: A View of Post-Expulsion Spanish-Portuguese Jewish Communities Through 16th- And 17th-Century Responsa" (Academic Studies Press, 2023)
Debby Koren's book Responsa in a Historical Context: A View of Post-Expulsion Spanish-Portuguese Jewish Communities Through 16th- And 17th-Century Responsa (Academic Studies Press, 2023) contains a collection of eight annotated translations of responsa, alongside the original Hebrew texts, focusing on the post-expulsion Spanish-Portuguese communities of the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries. Topics include excommunication in Amsterdam, ʻagunot, inheritance rights of a converso son, obligatory contracts and breach of agreement, heresy and humanist scholarship, informing on someone to the Venetian Inquisition, and more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Apr 18
49 min
Kerry Wallach, "Traces of a Jewish Artist: The Lost Life and Work of Rahel Szalit" (Penn State UP, 2024)
Graphic artist, illustrator, painter, and cartoonist Rahel Szalit (1888-1942) was among the best-known Jewish women artists in Weimar Berlin. But after she was arrested by the French police and then murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz, she was all but lost to history, and most of her paintings have been destroyed or gone missing. Drawing on a range of primary and secondary sources, this biography recovers Szalit's life and presents a stunning collection of her art. Szalit was a sought-after artist. Highly regarded by art historians and critics of her day, she made a name for herself with soulful, sometimes humorous illustrations of Jewish and world literature by Sholem Aleichem, Heinrich Heine, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, and others. She published her work in the mainstream German and Jewish press, and she ran in artists' and queer circles in Weimar Berlin and in 1930s Paris. Szalit's fascinating life demonstrates how women artists gained access to Jewish and avant-garde movements by experimenting with different media and genres. This engaging and deeply moving biography explores the life, work, and cultural contexts of an exceptional Jewish woman artist. Complementing studies such as Michael Brenner's The Renaissance of Jewish Culture in Weimar Germany, Traces of a Jewish Artist: The Lost Life and Work of Rahel Szalit (Penn State UP, 2024) brings Rahel Szalit into the larger conversation about Jewish artists, Expressionism, and modern art. Paul Lerner is Professor of History at the University of Southern California where he directs the Max Kade Institute for Austrian-German-Swiss Studies. He can be reached at and @PFLerner. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Apr 16
1 hr
Steven Ujifusa, "The Last Ships from Hamburg: Business, Rivalry, and the Race to Save Russia's Jews on the Eve of World War I" (HarperCollins, 2023)
Over thirty years, from 1890 to 1921, 2.5 million Jews, fleeing discrimination and violence in their homelands of Eastern Europe, arrived in the United States. Many sailed on steamships from Hamburg. This mass exodus was facilitated by three businessmen whose involvement in the Jewish-American narrative has been largely forgotten: Jacob Schiff, the managing partner of the investment bank Kuhn, Loeb & Company, who used his immense wealth to help Jews to leave Europe; Albert Ballin, managing director of the Hamburg-American Line, who created a transportation network of trains and steamships to carry them across continents and an ocean; and J. P. Morgan, mastermind of the International Mercantile Marine (I.M.M.) trust, who tried to monopolize the lucrative steamship business. Though their goals were often contradictory, together they made possible a migration that spared millions from persecution. Descendants of these immigrants included Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Estée Lauder, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Fanny Brice, Lauren Bacall, the Marx Brothers, David Sarnoff, Al Jolson, Sam Goldwyn, Ben Shahn, Hank Greenberg, Moses Annenberg, and many more--including Ujifusa's great grandparents. That is their legacy. Moving from the shtetls of Russia and the ports of Hamburg to the mansions of New York's Upper East Side and the picket lines outside of the notorious Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, The Last Ships from Hamburg: Business, Rivalry, and the Race to Save Russia's Jews on the Eve of World War I (HarperCollins, 2023) is a history that unfolds on both an intimate and epic scale. Meticulously researched, masterfully told, Ujifusa's story offers original insight into the American experience, connecting banking, shipping, politics, immigration, nativism, and war--and delivers crucial insight into the burgeoning refugee crisis of our own time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Apr 15
1 hr 19 min
Jae Hee Han, "Prophets and Prophecy in the Late Antique Near East" (Cambridge UP, 2023)
In Prophets and Prophecy in the Late Antique Near East (Cambridge UP, 2023), Jae Han investigates how various Late Antique Near Eastern communities—Jews, Christians, Manichaeans, and philosophers—discussed prophets and revelation, among themselves and against each other. Bringing an interdisciplinary, historical approach to the topic, he interrogates how these communities used discourses of prophethood and revelation to negotiate their place in the world. Han tracks the shifting contours of prophecy and contextualizes the emergence of orality as the privileged medium among rabbis, Manichaeans, and 'Jewish Christian' communities. He also explores the contemporary interest in divinatory knowledge among Neoplatonists. Offering a critical re-reading of key Manichaean texts, Han shows how Manichaeans used concepts of prophethood and revelation within specific rhetorical agendas to address urgent issues facing their communities. His book highlights the contingent production of discourse and shows how contemporary theories of rhetoric and textuality can be applied to the study of ancient texts. Jae Han is Assistant Professor in Religious Studies and the program for Judaic Studies at Brown University Michael Motia is a lecturer in the Religious Studies and Classics Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
Apr 13
1 hr 13 min
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