Jew­ish Jour­neys: From Phi­lo to Hip Hop

James Jor­dan, Tony Kush­n­er and Sarah Pearce, eds.
  • Review
By – September 1, 2011
Cen­tral to the his­to­ry, cul­ture, intel­lec­tu­al life, and reli­gion of Jews and Judaism is the con­cept of the Jew­ish Jour­ney, that sin­gu­lar expe­ri­ence of trav­el, whether actu­al, vir­tu­al, or metaphor­i­cal, that forms a nec­es­sary foun­da­tion for the full devel­op­ment of Jew­ish con­scious­ness. The edi­tors have gath­ered in this one vol­ume a raft of schol­ar­ly ideas from around the world, gleaned from those sub­mit­ted to a joint con­fer­ence held at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cape Town in 2007. Both Jew­ish stud­ies and migra­tion stud­ies are ful­ly rep­re­sent­ed by the 17 select­ed arti­cles that com­prise the four parts of the book: The Nature of Jew­ish Jour­neys; Body, Iden­ti­ty and Gen­der; Intel­lec­tu­al and Cul­tur­al Trans­mis­sion; and Jour­neys and Fam­i­lies.

The mul­ti-dis­ci­pli­nary nature of the essays rep­re­sents a new path in Jew­ish stud­ies, one that deals with both the phys­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al aspects of growth and the cul­tur­al and intel­lec­tu­al sides of the Jew­ish expe­ri­ence. While its reach is glob­al and its themes are schol­ar­ly, it is eas­i­ly acces­si­ble to a wide read­er­ship because of the clear writ­ing, rich­ly wrought imagery and log­i­cal­ly devel­oped ideas. For exam­ple, Veron­i­ca Belling’s piece on women’s jour­neys from East­ern Europe to South Africa explains how that nation’s Jew­ish iden­ti­ty and qual­i­ty of life was shaped by two waves of immi­gra­tion, before World War I and imme­di­ate­ly after. Tony Kush­n­er stud­ies the Jew­ish fam­i­ly, with an empha­sis on the role of the hus­band and father, and con­trasts the elite Jews who board­ed the ill-fat­ed Titan­ic with the obscure Jew­ish immi­grants who were their poor­er cousins. The book is the newest entry in the Parkes-Wiener Series on Jew­ish Stud­ies series, whose aim is to pub­lish new research and reis­sue clas­sic stud­ies in the field. Abstracts, index, notes on contributors.

Lin­da F. Burghardt is a New York-based jour­nal­ist and author who has con­tributed com­men­tary, break­ing news, and fea­tures to major news­pa­pers across the U.S., in addi­tion to hav­ing three non-fic­tion books pub­lished. She writes fre­quent­ly on Jew­ish top­ics and is now serv­ing as Schol­ar-in-Res­i­dence at the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al & Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau County.

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