To Be a Jew Today: A New Guide to God, Israel, and the Jewish People (Hardcover)

To Be a Jew Today: A New Guide to God, Israel, and the Jewish People By Noah Feldman Cover Image

To Be a Jew Today: A New Guide to God, Israel, and the Jewish People (Hardcover)


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A New York Times Bestseller

A leading public intellectual’s timely reckoning with how Jews can and should make sense of their tradition and each other.

What does it mean to be a Jew? At a time of worldwide crisis, venerable answers to this question have become unsettled. In To Be a Jew Today, the legal scholar and columnist Noah Feldman draws on a lifelong engagement with his religion to offer a wide-ranging interpretation of Judaism in its current varieties. How do Jews today understand their relationship to God, to Israel, and to each other—and live their lives accordingly?

Writing sympathetically but incisively about diverse outlooks, Feldman clarifies what’s at stake in the choice of how to be a Jew, and discusses the shared “theology of struggle” that Jews engage in as they wrestle with who God is, what God wants, or whether God exists. He shows how the founding of Israel has transformed Judaism itself over the last century—and explores the ongoing consequences of that transformation for all Jews, who find the meaning of their Jewishness and their views about Israel intertwined, no matter what those views are. And he examines the analogies between being Jewish and belonging to a large, messy family—a family that often makes its members crazy, but a family all the same. Written with learning, empathy and clarity, To Be a Jew Today is a critical resource for readers of all faiths.

Noah Feldman is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University, where he is also founding director of the Julis-Rabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli Law. A leading public intellectual, he is a contributing writer for Bloomberg View and the author of numerous books, including The Broken Constitution, Divided by God, and The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State.
Product Details ISBN: 9780374298340
ISBN-10: 0374298343
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: March 5th, 2024
Pages: 416
Language: English

"Judicious, sober . . . Invite[s] a more capacious understanding of Jewish lives and Jewish futures in the diaspora . . . Important . . . Cannot be written off." —Gideon Lewis-Kraus, The New Yorker

"Feldman’s analysis is notably free of judgment or bias; while he glancingly refers to his own Jewish path and predilections, he is refreshingly open in describing the theology (or lack thereof), the politics and the challenges of his fellow Jews." —Jane Eisner, The Washington Post

"[To Be a Jew Today] reconciles competing understandings by putting forth his vision of Jewishness: that to be a Jew is to struggle lovingly, with ourselves, with other Jews, and with Israel, because Judaism itself is a loving struggle . . . [Feldman] has written an appealing guide, or at least mapped out a starting point, for being a Jew today." —Emily Tamkin, The Forward

“An impres­sive, insight­ful assess­ment of the com­plex­i­ties of mod­ern Jew­ish existence . . . Incredibly rel­e­vant in a post-Octo­ber 7 world.” —Jewish Book Council

"[A] personal, analytical, nonpolemical work . . . Feldman employs deep scholarship and a nondidactic tone to revisit the essential stories of Jewish struggle and faith . . . An eloquent, accessible, well-written reflection on the significance of being a Jew." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A welcome resource for readers curious about Judaism’s past, future, and purpose." Publishers Weekly

To Be a Jew Today is a beautiful book, a necessary and important book. Written with learning, insight, and anguish, it is a provocation to be argued over (I certainly did) and wrestled with, but it cannot be ignored.” —David Wolpe, rabbi emeritus of Sinai Temple, Los Angeles, and author of David: The Divided Heart and Why Faith Matters

“More than with any book I’ve read in years, Jewish readers will draw new insights into their own Judaism from Noah Feldman’s fresh, fascinating, and compelling analyses of contemporary Jewish life. Feldman exhibits the gift of all great teachers and influential public intellectuals: the ability to take even the most complex ideas and convey them with clarity, context, and honesty.” —Rabbi David Saperstein, director emeritus of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom

To Be a Jew Today is an instant classic, not only because it explains being Jewish in our lifetime, but also because it talks about timeless universal Jewish themes in a magnetic and accessible way.” —Rosalie Silberman Abella, former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and Pisar Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School

“In this exciting and passionately argued new book, Noah Feldman offers us a lifetime of thinking and struggling with being a Jew, and thinking with Judaism, in America today. Broad in scope, sparkling with new insights, often provocative and daring, and deeply rooted in the Jewish textual tradition, Feldman deftly weaves memoir, philosophy, legal theory, and sociological analysis to paint a complex yet accessible portrait of being a Jew and taking Judaism seriously in this crucial time of transition. Highly recommended.” —Shaul Magid, professor of Jewish studies at Dartmouth College and author of The Necessity of Exile: Essays from a Distance

To Be a Jew Today takes the reader on a rich and nourishing journey that is at once spiritual, emotional, and intellectual while deeply engaged in untangling and understanding and holding space for the mysterious and the unknown. It speaks to those ready to be welcomed into a sacred conversation.” —Rabbi Lila Kagedan, New York Medical College

To Be a Jew Today is a field guide to a richer, more meaningful spiritual life—and not just for Jews. Feldman’s answers to the question of ‘What’s the point of being a Jew?’ offer a whole new paradigm for how to think about Jewishness, one that will change how you walk through the world, whether you’re Jewish or not.” —Rabbi Benay Lappe, president and Rosh Yeshiva of SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva