Who are the Jews? What do they believe? Why is Israel so important to them? What’s all this about self-hating Jews? These are just some of the questions that engage a Reform rabbi and a Humanist philosopher in their lively and intriguing conversations. From Antisemitism to Zionism, from animal slaughter kosher-style to the Zeitgeist of Jewish disparaging humour, rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok gives us the flavours, traditions and ‘feel’ of Jewish life and identity enmeshed in the importance of the Holy Land, while philosopher Peter Cave gets him to dig deeper, revealing philosophical perplexities, unsettling questions — and even Wittgenstein. The book is unique for it challenges unconscious assumptions such as the Jewish conviction that Judaism must survive and that Hitler must not secure a posthumous victory — as well as widening eyes to searching questions concerning a nation’s identity and what justifies territorial rights. Because Jewish humour plays a crucial role in Jewish life, this wide-ranging and thought-provoking exploration includes Jewish jokes and Dan’s Jewish cartoons, all designed to add some spice to the dish of what it is like to be a Jew in these modern times. The dialogues introduce the non-Jewish to the Jewish world of argument, anguish and identity — and will lead Jews to discover some fresh approaches and challenges to their interests and worries. For both Jews and non-Jews, this book casts lights — with an engaging and accessible tone — for, clearly, this rabbi and philosopher enjoy the cut and the thrust.
Published: Nov 30, 2018
Any book which poses difficult questions on Jews and Judaism is bound to be controversial. This challenging debate between a rabbi and a philosopher, including some intriguing role reversals, does not disappoint.
Rabbi Professor Jonathan Magonet, Formerly Principal of Leo Baeck College, London
Lively and light approach to some very protracted issues...attractive format, with a dialogical text interspersed with illustrations and humor ...thoughtful introduction to a complex issue, nicely broken down into some of the most central arguments.
Professor Oliver Leaman, Professor of Philosophy and Zantker Professor of Judaic Studies at University of Kentucky
We can all learn more about Judaism and there is nowhere better than here: the book approaches serious subjects such as why Jews are hated, what significance Israel has for Judaism and a two-state solution, yet all accompanied by a light touch, sensitive disagreement and (crucial to Judaism) Jewish jokes.
The Very Christopher Lewis, Formerly Dean of Christ Church, Oxford
Wonderfully entertaining, eminently readable, and mind-blowingly informative! Cave and Cohn-Sherbok are not afraid to ask the difficult and sensitive questions about Jews, Judaism and Israel. The format of light-hearted banter and the inclusion of witty, amusing cartoons ensure that readers are swept along from one controversial topic to another, learning much but, at the same time, left to form their own opinions on a vast array of pertinent, if often perplexing and seemingly unsolvable, issues. A book of beguiling subtleties that demonstrates the authors’ comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of their subject!
Professor Martin O'Kane, University of Wales Trinity St David