Rabbis of our Time : Authorities of Judaism in the Religious and Political Ferment of Modern Times book cover
1st Edition

Rabbis of our Time
Authorities of Judaism in the Religious and Political Ferment of Modern Times

ISBN 9781138813168
Published November 2, 2015 by Routledge
248 Pages

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Book Description

The term ‘rabbi’ predominantly denotes Jewish men qualified to interpret the Torah and apply halacha, or those entrusted with the religious leadership of a Jewish community. However, the role of the rabbi has been understood differently across the Jewish world. While in Israel they control legally powerful rabbinical courts and major religious political parties, in the Jewish communities of the Diaspora this role is often limited by legal regulations of individual countries. However, the significance of past and present rabbis and their religious and political influence endures across the world.

Rabbis of Our Time provides a comprehensive overview of the most influential rabbinical authorities of Judaism in the 20th and 21st Century. Through focussing on the most theologically influential rabbis of the contemporary era and examining their political impact, it opens a broader discussion of the relationship between Judaism and politics. It looks at the various centres of current Judaism and Jewish thinking, especially the State of Israel and the USA, as well as locating rabbis in various time periods. Through interviews and extracts from religious texts and books authored by rabbis, readers will discover more about a range of rabbis, from those before the formation of Israel to the most famous Chief Rabbis of Israel, as well as those who did not reach the highest state religious functions, but influenced the relation between Judaism and Israel by other means. The rabbis selected represent all major contemporary streams of Judaism, from ultra-Orthodox/Haredi to Reform and Liberal currents, and together create a broader picture of the scope of contemporary Jewish thinking in a theological and political context.

An extensive and detailed source of information on the varieties of Jewish thinking influencing contemporary Judaism and the modern State of Israel, this book is of interest to students and scholars of Jewish Studies, as well as Religi

Table of Contents

1.Introduction 2.Who are rabbis? 3. Profiles of rabbinical authorities: Yisrael Abuhatzeira and Baruch Abuhatzeira, Avraham Mordechai Alter, Leo Baeck, Amram Blau and Ruth Blau, The Braslav Hasids and their rabbis, Mordechai Tzemach Eliyahu, Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Menachem Froman, Shlomo Goren, Abraham Yehoshua Heschel, Moshe Hirsch and Yisrael Meir Hirsch, Yitzhak Kaduri, Israel Meir Ha-Kohen/Kagan, Meir David Kahane and Benjamin Ze'ev Kahane, Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz – Chazon Ish, Avraham Yitzchak Ha-Kohen Kook and Tzvi Yehuda Kook, Yisrael Meir Lau, Moshe Levinger, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Elazar Menachem Man Shach, Joseph Dov Ha-Levi Soloveitchik, Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, Yoel Teitelbaum, Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl, Ovadia Yosef. 4. A collection of shorter profiles of several rabbis Arik W. Ascherman, Yehuda Leib Ha-Levi Ashlag, Ezra Attiya, Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Meir Bar-Ilan (Berlin), Yehuda Berg, Elmer Berger, Joseph Samuel Bloch, Shmuel (Shmuley) Boteach, Moshe Feinstein, Yihyah Kafih and Yosef Kafih, Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, Harold Kushner, Berl Lazar, Michael Lerner, Dov Lior, Michael Melchior, Chaim Nahum, Yitzhak Nisim, Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, Aharon Roth, Yonathan Henry Sacks, Yedidia Shofet, Adin Steinsaltz, Menachem Mendel Taub, Ben Zion Meir Chai Uziel (Ouziel), Elchonon Wasserman, Yisroel Dovid Weiss, Shalom Dovber Halevi Wolpo. 5. Some final thoughts instead of a conclusion

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Marek Cejka is a research scholar at the Institute of International Relations in Prague and Military History Institute in Brno, focusing on the Middle East, the relationship between religion and politics, international law, religious radicalism and terrorism.

Roman Koran has extensive experience researching issues in Judaism, in particular Jewish Mysticism where he focuses primarily on the work of Rabbi Isaac Luria, as well as translating Hebrew texts.


A useful source for those interested in contemporary Orthodox Judaism. An insight into an unknown world often deemed forbidding and inaccessible.

Yakov Rabkin, Professor of Contemporary Jewish History, University of Montreal.

Rabbis of Our Time presents informative portraits of over 50 prominent rabbinic personalities, primarily Orthodox (hence male) leaders, who have influenced the religious and political lives of modern Jews. In accessible language, the authors place each figure in his historical context and explain how he shaped the thinking and practice of fellow Jews. In the political climate of the 20th and early 21st centuries, rabbis in Israel and the Diaspora have exercised considerable influence, which makes this overview, with references provided for further reading, a distinctly helpful resource for Jews and non-Jews alike.

Dr. Yehezkel Landau, Associate Professor of Interfaith Relations Hartford Seminary

The overview of rabbis provided in the book is supremely relevant to contemporary political issues and demonstrates unmistakably that Orthodoxy did not and does not speak with one voice... Overall, this book provides an overview of numerous contemporary religious figures, references to their writings, and their engagement with contemporary questions of Jewish life and the Jewish state.

Guy Ben-Porat, Ben-Gurion University, Israel Studies Review