Rowman & Littlefield Publishers / Alban Books
Trim: 6 x 9
978-1-56699-389-0 • Paperback • June 2009 • $30.00 • (£22.99)
978-1-56699-643-3 • eBook • June 2009 • $28.50 • (£21.99)
Rabbi Zachary I. Heller was a congregational rabbi for over thirty years before joining the National Center for Jewish Policy Studies as associate director. He has served in several international leadership roles, including as president of the World Council of Conservative/Masorti Synagogues, and has lectured and taught in twenty-two countries from Russia and the Ukraine to Australia. Among his recent publications is Re-envisioning the Synagogue.
Introduction, Zachary I. Heller
PART 1: The History and Context of Jewish Religious Life in America
Chapter 1: History as Prophecy: Narrating the American Synagogue, David B. Starr
Chapter 2: Denominations in American Judaism: The Dynamics of Their Relationships, Lawrence Grossman
Chapter 3: Denominationalism and Its Discontents: The Changing Face of Synagogue Affiliation, Sanford Seltzer
Chapter 4: American Dissonance: Christian Communities in the United States and Their Cultural Context, Rodney L. Petersen
PART 2: Fragmentation or Diversity?
Chapter 5: Thoughts on American Jewish Denominationalism Today: Culture and Identity, David Ellenson
Chapter 6: Thoughts on American Jewish Denominationalism Today: A Tradition of Unity and Diversity, Arnold M. Eisen
Chapter 7: Jewish Denominations: Transformation or Demise?, David M. Gordis
Chapter 8: Postdenominational American Judaism: Reality or Illusion?, Rela Mintz Geffen
PART 3: Prescriptions
Chapter 9: Synagogue Renewal in an Age of Extreme Choice: Anything, Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere, Hayim Herring
Chapter 10: Jewish Education: Postdenominationalism and the Continuing Influence of Denominations, Jonathan Woocher
Chapter 11: Rabbinic Training and Transdenominationalism: Some Personal Perspectives, Arthur Green
PART 4: Personal Reflections and Community Stories
Chapter 12: Reconciling Individualism and Community: A Common Challenge, Carl A. Sheingold
Chapter 13: A Personal Reflection on Contemporary Trends in American Judaism, Sanford (Sandy) Cardin
Chapter 14: Challenges to Jewish Community, Judy Beck
Chapter 15: Does a Synagogue Need a Denomination?, Clifford Kulwin
Chapter 16: Same Shul, New Shul: Affiliation and Focus, Cheri Scheff Levitan
Chapter 17: The TBZ Story, Moshe Waldoks
PART 5: Independents and the Transitional Generation
Chapter 18: A New Generation of Seekers, Zachary I. Heller
Chapter 19: On Independent Jewish Communities and the Movements, Gordon Tucker
Chapter 20: The Riverway Project: One Model for Reaching a New Generation of Young Adults, Jeremy S. Morrison
For anyone interested in the American Jewish experience and the challenges we face, this book is a must read. It covers the passage of responsibility for the preservation of distinctively Jewish life from the 'gemeinschaft' of 19th century Germany to the synagogues in America today. Gone are Jewish neighborhoods, businesses and other common Jewish endeavors, leaving the synagogue as the focal point for most Jews. The denominations—Modern Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist—are closely examined, but non-denominational synagogues and other groupings such as the Havurot and such Orthodox outreach programs as Chabad and Aish Ha Torah also get a nod. Throughout its long history Judaism has absorbed ideas from other cultures and re-interpreted them in the Jewish idiom. Nowhere is this more evident than in the form and content of synagogue life in America today. Rabbi Heller and the other distinguished essayists tell the story as no one else has.
— Alfred H. Moses
Do denominations matter? In this timely and provocative volume—part description, part prescription, part analysis, part case-study—some of American Jewry’s most effervescent minds wrestle with this vital question. Their contributions, no two alike, paint a vivid portrait of synagogue life today: fractious, fast-changing, and fecund. Judaism in the years ahead may be 'nondenominational,' 'transdenominational,' 'postdenominational,' or just plain 'denominational,' this book suggests, but in the final analysis the future depends upon vibrant and successful synagogues. Memorable chapters introduce us to some of those synagogues, and to their strategies for revitalizing American Jewish life.
— Jonathan D. Sarna, Brandeis University
This volume which considers the question do denominations matter could not have come at a more opportune moment. All who care about forging a path toward a robust, financially secure, and meaningful future for American Jewish life will be drawn to the thought-provoking essays in this volume. Many of the brightest and most effective Jewish leaders on the contemporary scene offer historical reflections, personal observations, and incisive insights into the venues, demographics and sensibilities that hold the key to the renaissance of synagogue life that is so essential to the vitality of American Jewry.
— Shuly Rubin Schwartz, Associate Professor of American Jewish History and Dean of the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies, Jewish Theological Seminary of America