The Quest for Utopia
Jewish Political Ideas and Institutions Through the Ages
This exploration of the Jewish political tradition elucidates a long, rich, and diverse experience of both sovereignty and dispersed statelessness. It holds insights, as Zvi Gitelman points out in his introductory chapter, for anyone interested comparative and ethnic politics, Jewish history, and the prehistory of contemporary Israeli politics. Stuart Cohen analyzes the "covenant idea" and the constitutional character of ancient Israel, which had a profound influence on Western political thought through the medium of the Bible. Gerald Blidstein examines rabbinic strategies for accommodation to the realities of Jewish dispersion in the middle Ages, while Robert Chazan focuses on communal authority and self-governance in the same period. Jonathan Frankel and Paula Hyman move the study into modern times with attempts to characterize the diverse patterns of Jewish political culture and activity in different parts of Europe, in the process revealing the dynamics of political cultural influence. Finally, Peter Medding looks at the "new politics" of contemporary American Jews - as voters, as public officials, and as organizational actors.
Table of Contents
Introduction, Comparative Politics and the Jewish Political Experience, Kings, Priests, and Prophets, Patterns of Constitutional Discourse and Constitutional Conflict in Ancient Israel, "Ideal" and "Real" in Classical Jewish Political Theory, From the Talmud to Abrabanel, Medieval Jewish Political Institutions, The Foundations of Their Authority, Modern Jewish Politics East and West (1840-1939), Utopia, Myth, Reality, Was There a "Jewish Politics" in Western and Central Europe? The "New Jewish Politics" in the United States
Zvi Gitelman is professor of political science and Tisch Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.