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Hardcover A History of Jewish Civilization Book

ISBN: 0785807985

ISBN13: 9780785807988

A History of Jewish Civilization

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A Pessimistic Prognosis And A Solution

A HISTORY OF JEWISH CIVILIZATION traces Jewish history from its origins in Mesopotamia, through the biblical years, the years of the diaspora, the holocaust, the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel, and up to the present. In addition, it is a book about monotheistic philosophy and teachings, and a book of sketches, maps, and photographs (by Hanan Isachar), all packaged in an attractive format.I congratulate Lavinia Cohn-Sherbok and Hanan Isachar for creating this book which is greater than the sum of its parts. The text is amazingly comprehensive and the photography is both attractive and well integrated into the text.Cohn-Sherbock leads us through a history that is fraught with threats to the continued existence of the Jewish people who have proved to be remarkable survivors. This being said, her prognosis for the future of Judaism, in spite of the relative security of the state of Israel, is pessimistic.Outside of Israel, the birthrate of Diaspora Jews, except the strictly Orthodox, is extremely low. Intermarriage is almost the rule, and complete assimilation into the gentile world is on the rise. She expresses a common fear that, within a few generations, Judaism will only exist among the strictly Orthodox, and that they will keep within their own communities to such a degree that they will live totally apart from the "manners and mores of the secular 21st century." In other words, they will become, like the Amish, irrelevant to the mainstream culture. In the mean time, the assimilated Jewish and half-Jewish population will be totally absorbed into the mainstream culture, forgetting their Jewish ancestry.It almost seems to be a case of success breeding failure. In our generation, the two main focal points for the Jewish population have been the Holocaust and the necessity to support the state of Israel through its infancy. Within the next few generations, as the last of the Holocaust survivors die out, and Israel becomes more and more self-supporting, these focal points will fade away. As they disappear, so will much of the impetus for the non-religious Jew to emphasize his Jewishness.Cohn-Sherbok's solution for the survival of Jewish civilization is religious renewal. "The Jewish people have maintained their special identity for over three thousand years. If they are not to disappear from history, they must return to their religious roots."Perhaps reading this book could be a first step along the road to survival.
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