By Aaron W. Hughes
Jacob Neusner (born 1932) is likely one of the most crucial figures within the shaping of contemporary American Judaism. He was once pivotal in reworking the examine of Judaism from an insular undertaking merely carried out by—and of curiosity to—religious adherents to 1 which now prospers within the secular atmosphere of the college. he's additionally the most colourful, inventive, and tough figures within the American academy. yet even those that disagree with Neusner’s educational method of historic rabbinic texts need to have interaction along with his pioneering methods.
In this complete biography, Aaron Hughes exhibits Neusner to be even more than a student of rabbinics. he's a social commentator, a post-Holocaust theologian, and used to be an outspoken political determine throughout the peak of the cultural wars of the Eighties. Neusner’s lifestyles displays the tale of what occurred as Jews migrated to the suburbs within the overdue Forties, bold to visualize new lives for themselves as they effectively built-in into the material of yank society. it's also the tale of the way American Jews attempted to make feel of the area within the aftermath of the extermination of ecu Jewry and the next construction of the kingdom of Israel in 1948, and the way they sought to outline what it intended to be an American Jew.
Unlike different nice American Jewish thinkers, Neusner was once born within the united states, and his Judaism was once proficient by way of an American ethos. His Judaism is open, expert through and informing the area. it really is an American Judaism, person who has enabled American Jews—the freest in history—to be absolutely American and completely Jewish.
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Additional resources for Jacob Neusner: An American Jewish Iconoclast
Only then would he be in a position to critique them. Although he would go on to produce an award-winning dissertation on the life of Yohanan ben Zakkai, it was a work that he would soon thereafter repudiate as too simple and uncritical. He later realized and publicly admitted that his early work simply accepted sources at face value, as accurate historical transcripts as opposed to later additions. Had his early work, especially his dissertation, not conformed to this old-fashioned model, however, his teachers who belonged to that status quo and whom he would soon criticize as naïve never would have passed it.
He held up as his role model the rabbi of his synagogue, and the young Neusner knew of no other pattern for Jewish life than Reform. When for his sixteenth birthday his parents asked him what he most wanted, he responded: Hebrew lessons. So for the next two years he learned the ancient language from a young woman who had recently graduated from Boston Hebrew College. 39 Jacob was the youngest of three children. His two older siblings were Frederick D. S. , and Sandra D. Neusner Friedman (1929–1986), an assistant dean at the University of Hartford.
Neusner was certainly not the first traveler to find in Italy everything that England was not. Its climate, its people, and their mannerisms showed the warmth that he found so wanting in England. The world of light and shadow, architectural majesty, beauty, and food left an indelible mark on the young man. ”73 From Italy, Neusner made his way to Germany, to Frankfurt, to visit a friend whom he had met while at Harvard. This trip enabled him to witness firsthand—only eight years after the end of the Second World War and the closing of the gas chambers—Germany, the German people, and something of the attitudes that had brought about the Holocaust.