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Over four decades ago, the pre-eminent Jewish theologian, Abraham Joshua Heschel, warned of a "second Holocaust" - a spiritual genocide against Judaism that American Jews were perpetrating on themselves. By engaging in assimilation and secularization, he argued, Jews were losing their religious identity and, through it, their identity as a people. In Faith Finding Meaning, Byron L. Sherwin makes the case for a return to Jewish theology as a foundation for restoring Jewish authenticity and for reversing self-destructive assimilationist trends.
Rather than focusing on the abstract theological concepts presented by Judaism, such as the existence and nature of God, Sherwin shifts the center of the discussion to the quest for individual meaning. As more Jews seek to affirm Judaism as a faith, they are increasingly asking two questions: What is Judaism? How does Judaism address my quest for meaning? This volume constructs a portrait of the Jewish faith that is deeply rooted in both classical and modern sources of Jewish thought. Jewish theological thinking can be understood as a response to such visceral existential issues as living in a covenantal relationship, finding God in the world, approaching sacred scripture, and committing ethical deeds. Finding this sort of individual meaning through Jewish theology is, Sherwin argues, the viable path by which Jews in the contemporary world can maintain identity amid assimilation.
Faith Finding Meaning will engage anyone seeking a refreshing new approach to interpreting Jewish theology and a guide for faithful living as the Jewish people move into the future.
Byron Sherwin, an ethicist and scholar of Jewish philosophy and mysticism, is the Distinguished Service Professor at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, Chicago. He is the author or editor of thirty books, including Studies in Jewish Theology.