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The Chosen Wars

By: Steven R. Weisman
Narrated by: Grover Gardner
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Publisher's Summary

The Chosen Wars tells the dramatic story of how Judaism redefined itself in America in the 18th and 19th centuries - the personalities that fought each other and shaped its evolution and, importantly, the force of the American dynamic that prevailed over an ancient religion.

The struggles that led to a radical redefinition of Judaism illuminate the larger American experience. The transformation of the religion and culture of Judaism is a striking example. The story begins with the arrival of the first Jews in New Amsterdam and stretches the length of the 19th century as massive immigration take place and into the 20th.

First, there was the practical matter of earning a living. Many immigrants traveled as peddlers from community to community where there were no kosher butchers. Doctrine was put aside. Then, determined to take their places as equals in the young nation, American Jews rejected identity as a separate nation and embraced a secular America. Judaism became an American religion.

The changes did not come without argument, and Weisman tells the stories of the colorful rabbis and activists, including women, who would ultimately define American Judaism, and its divisions of Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox which remain today: Rabbi Isaac Wise; Mordecai Manuel Noah; Moses Mendelssohn; Rebecca Gratz; and Isaac Leeser are some of the major figures.

The Chosen Wars is the important story of how Judaism enhanced America, and how America inspired Judaism.

©2018 Steven R. Weisman (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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A History of the Reform Movement

Would better be titled an American history of the Reform Movement. He touches on the histories of the other movements as well, yet all is told around the evolution of American Reform Judaism. Weisman writes both concisely yet in depth of the history of American reform Jews, beginning at the beginning and very capably weaving it with the American historical experience. He spends just enough time on every period and personality so that you learn it all and yet don't get bored. His description of the already well known scene of Rabbi Isaac Meyer Wise taking a punch on the pulpit in Albany and the congregation erupting into fighting in the street is the best I've ever read of that event. Even for those who know the history of the Movement, this history will add new facts and gloss. Weisman is excellent at "explaining" why Reform Jews wished (or resisted certain) changes and how such fit with society norms. His divisions of changes by American historical time periods make a lot of sense and really tie together the development into modern practices and beliefs. Grover Gardner continues to do an outstanding job as probably the best narrator in the audible book universe!

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The many changes of Judaism

This was a very informative book on the last few centuries of Judaism. It examined its origins, touches on the exiles & the hopes of geulah. A pretty thorough discussion is given of many trends, personalities & how some traditions became popular today. It was a good read