Tablets Shattered

by Joshua Leifer

Tablets Shattered

  • ISBN-13: 9780593187180
  • Author(s): Joshua Leifer
  • Subject: History
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House Group
  • Imprint: Dutton
  • Publication Date: 20-08-2024
  • Format: h/b

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£28.99
Tablets Shattered: The End of an American Jewish Century and the Future of Jewish Life is Joshua Leifer's lively and deeply personal history of the fractured American Jewish present. Formed in the middle decades of the twentieth century, all the settled-upon pillars of American Jewish self-definition (Americanism, Zionism, and liberalism) have begun to falter in the first decades of the twenty-first. The binding trauma of Holocaust memory grows ever-more attenuated; soon there will no longer be any living survivors. After two millennia of Jewish life defined by diasporic existence, the majority of the world's Jews will live in a sovereign Jewish state by 2050. Against the backdrop of national political crises, resurgent global antisemitism, and ongoing wars in the Middle East, Leifer provides an illuminating and meticulously reported map of contemporary Jewish life as well as a sober conjecture about its future. Leifer begins with the history of Jewish immigrants in America, starting with the story of his own ancestry, the arrival from a Belarusian shtetl of his great-grandmother, Bessie, and following each subsequent generation as it conformed to the prevailing codes of American Jewish life. He then goes on to report on the state of today's burning Jewish issues, building on interviews with those living daily across the varied faultlines of the Jewish conversation. We meet Millennial Jewish racial justice organisers trying to build new communities grounded in social action; Orthodox political activists navigating the tensions between pragmatism and ideology; young liberal rabbis looking to 'queer' the Torah through exegesis; Haredi men learning full-time at the world's largest yeshiva; progressive anti-Zionists attempting to separate Judaism from nationalism; and right-wing Israeli public intellectuals beginning to imagine a future without American Jews. While often coming to radically different conclusions, all are asking the same fundamental question: what will it mean to be Jewish in a seemingly unprecedented time? As it traverses the contemporary Jewish landscape through uncommon personal familiarity with the widest range of Jewish experience, Tablets Shattered also charts the universal quest to understand the increasingly divisive world we live in and build enduring communities amid historical and political rupture.
About the book

Tablets Shattered: The End of an American Jewish Century and the Future of Jewish Life is Joshua Leifer's lively and deeply personal history of the fractured American Jewish present. Formed in the middle decades of the twentieth century, all the settled-upon pillars of American Jewish self-definition (Americanism, Zionism, and liberalism) have begun to falter in the first decades of the twenty-first. The binding trauma of Holocaust memory grows ever-more attenuated; soon there will no longer be any living survivors. After two millennia of Jewish life defined by diasporic existence, the majority of the world's Jews will live in a sovereign Jewish state by 2050. Against the backdrop of national political crises, resurgent global antisemitism, and ongoing wars in the Middle East, Leifer provides an illuminating and meticulously reported map of contemporary Jewish life as well as a sober conjecture about its future. Leifer begins with the history of Jewish immigrants in America, starting with the story of his own ancestry, the arrival from a Belarusian shtetl of his great-grandmother, Bessie, and following each subsequent generation as it conformed to the prevailing codes of American Jewish life. He then goes on to report on the state of today's burning Jewish issues, building on interviews with those living daily across the varied faultlines of the Jewish conversation. We meet Millennial Jewish racial justice organisers trying to build new communities grounded in social action; Orthodox political activists navigating the tensions between pragmatism and ideology; young liberal rabbis looking to 'queer' the Torah through exegesis; Haredi men learning full-time at the world's largest yeshiva; progressive anti-Zionists attempting to separate Judaism from nationalism; and right-wing Israeli public intellectuals beginning to imagine a future without American Jews. While often coming to radically different conclusions, all are asking the same fundamental question: what will it mean to be Jewish in a seemingly unprecedented time? As it traverses the contemporary Jewish landscape through uncommon personal familiarity with the widest range of Jewish experience, Tablets Shattered also charts the universal quest to understand the increasingly divisive world we live in and build enduring communities amid historical and political rupture.