Zachary Braiterman Reviews Shaul Magid, American Post-Judaism


Shaul Magid, a specialist in Lurianic Kabbalah and Hasidism has written one of the best god-damned books on American Judaism to appear of late: American Post-Judaism: Identity and Renewal in a Postethnic Society. I’m going to write more critically about it later, and hopefully Shaul will respond. But for now let me recommend it. In my estimation it’s up there as one of the most important works of and on American Jewish thought alongside Laura Levitt’s American Jewish Loss After the Holocaust and Ken Koltun-Fromm’s Material Culture and Jewish Thought in America.

So as I said, more later, but here is the excited conclusion of my published remarks over at Open Zion

But what Magid’s book excites are more fundamental arguments bearing upon the American Jewish community, and also Israel and Palestine. Magid wants loosen the ties that bind up Jewish life together in reactive formations. Judith Butler could have written a book like this had she herself known more about the Judaism and Jewishness she seeks to separate from Israel and Zionism. While Magid is not unsympathetic to Butler, his vision of Jewish Renewal more closely resembles that of the recently deceased Rabbi Menachem Froman from the West Bank settlement of Tekoa. Froman, a spiritual giant who struggled courageously against the Israeli consensus to undo the dividing lines separating Jews and Muslims, including the lines between Israel and Hamas, and whose Judaism, I daresay, was probably post-ethnic, post-national, and post-Apartheid in the very ways intended by Magid in this most timely of utopian books.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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