Jew­ish Choic­es, Jew­ish Voic­es: Sex and Intimacy

  • Review
By – September 8, 2011

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.

Oth­er Titles in This Series

Judd Kruger Lev­ingston, Ph.D. and rab­bi, serves as Direc­tor of Jew­ish Stud­ies at Jack M. Bar­rack Hebrew Acad­e­my in the Philadel­phia area. Lev­ingston is the author of Sow­ing the Seeds of Char­ac­ter: The Moral Edu­ca­tion of Ado­les­cents in Pub­lic and Pri­vate Schools (Praeger, 2009).

Discussion Questions