JPS is ready to trigger lively discussions among students yet again! In its series of books on Jewish ethics entitled, “Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices,” Elliot Dorff and Danya Ruttenberg have edited the most recent addition to the series, a book on sexual decision-making. As in previous books in this series about the ethics of money, power, and the body, the authors cull classic Jewish sources from the Bible and rabbinic literature and contemporary essays, offering lively and provocative case studies about sex and sexuality that help readers to formulate a well-informed Jewish stance on these issues.
By presenting the sources entirely in English, some linguistic nuance may be lost, but the generous breadth of sources more than compensates for this shortcoming: in the chapter on birth control and abortion, for example, sources come from the biblical Book of Exodus and classical rabbinic sources such as the Mishnah, the Talmud, and Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah. Contemporary sources come from Dr. Ruth Westheimer, WebMD, and from Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox writers, making this book a winner for upper level high school and college classes in practical ethics, for adult education mini-courses, and for clergy who are counseling people facing complicated decisions involving sexuality and sexual practice.
By taking on such important topics as ethical practices around dating; maintaining mutual respect when considering the consequences of sexual activity; sex work and pornography; and negotiation around sexual practices, Dorff and Ruttenberg provide readers with the tools to see that no issue has a simple answer. The thoughtful contemporary essays by luminaries in the field reassure readers that today’s concerns and questions may be as old as the ages, and that tomorrow’s answers can be fresh, relevant, and respectful.