Read Jews and Words by Amos Oz Fania Oz-Salzberger Online


Why are words so important to so many Jews? Novelist Amos Oz and historian Fania Oz-Salzberger roam the gamut of Jewish history to explain the integral relationship of Jews and words. Through a blend of storytelling and scholarship, conversation and argument, father and daughter tell the tales behind Judaism’s most enduring names, adages, disputes, texts, and quips. TheseWhy are words so important to so many Jews? Novelist Amos Oz and historian Fania Oz-Salzberger roam the gamut of Jewish history to explain the integral relationship of Jews and words. Through a blend of storytelling and scholarship, conversation and argument, father and daughter tell the tales behind Judaism’s most enduring names, adages, disputes, texts, and quips. These words, they argue, compose the chain connecting Abraham with the Jews of every subsequent generation.Framing the discussion within such topics as continuity, women, timelessness, and individualism, Oz and Oz-Salzberger deftly engage Jewish personalities across the ages, from the unnamed, possibly female author of the Song of Songs through obscure Talmudists to contemporary writers. They suggest that Jewish continuity, even Jewish uniqueness, depends not on central places, monuments, heroic personalities, or rituals but rather on written words and an ongoing debate between the generations. Full of learning, lyricism, and humor, Jews and Words offers an extraordinary tour of the words at the heart of Jewish culture and extends a hand to the reader, any reader, to join the conversation....

Title : Jews and Words
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780300156478
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 248 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Jews and Words Reviews

  • Jsavett1
    2019-06-08 13:41

    This is a tremendous little book. Having just finished it, I find my heart and mind aflame with inspiration and pride and conflict. Oz and daughter would have it no other way, for this book is NOT a triumphalist manifesto of Jewish super-selection or special-ness. The authors go out of their way (sometimes to a nagging extent) to frame their discussion as simply exploring what seems particular about Jews and words, not necessarily BETTER or more heroic. In other words, this is NOT Max Dimont's Jews, God, and History, which though impressive, is a tour de force in Jewish pride and claiming. Most enjoyably, the authors make little attempt to position themselves as scholars or authorities on the subjects upon which they hold forth. They are learned, literate, sensitive readers and writers and they want to explain chutzpah with chutzpah. They know some Talmud and quote it well; they've included some beautiful Jewish and non-Jewish poetry (I feel weird using the term "Jewish" after reading the book---you'll find out why if you pick it up) to beautiful effect. But all is in the earnest fun of separating the junk from the treasures of our intellectual inheritance; in doing so, they are doing what Jews have done and will do always---finding and making a "chidush"---new reading, new interpretation, new words, and as the authors so eloquently put it at the book's close: reauthoring the books we read by reading them.

  • Susan Emmet
    2019-06-19 05:58

    I come to Jews and Words as a lapsed Presbyterian who didn't know her Jewish heritage until age 18. My grandfather, who escaped a pogrom in SW Russia or Poland (we don't know where he was born), was adamant that we were raised as Christians. I remember neighborhood kids remarking that "he looked and acted like a Jew" with all the stereotypical stuff that statement carries on its back.Amos Oz and his daughter, Fania Oz-Salzberger, the "writer and the historian among us," divide their conversation into four sections: Continuity, Vocal Women, Time and Timelessness and Each Person Has a Name; or, Do Jews Need Judaism. In each section, father and daughter dispute, tell jokes, relay poems, show clear focus on scholarship, and cover centuries of Biblical and Talmudic and historical rabbis, teachers, writers, thinkers and movements. What links all is what begins in Genesis: The Word.Many peoples have been persecuted, genocidally so. Some survived; some did not. "This book is an essay. It is a nonfiction, speculative, raw, and occasionally playful attempt to say something a bit new on a topic of immense pedigree. We offer you our personal take on one core aspect of Jewish history: the relationship of Jews with words." The authors claim that words cemented Jewish people within their communities and during times of strife. The Word held fast. And the words provide daily bread and continuum. The various texts are often about law and faith, but they are all about "text, question, dispute." They are about the past and future in the present.I love the idea that every reader and student and teacher, including God, asks many questions and is empowered to seek answers for him/herself.The authors appear humble readers who don't lay claim to expertise. I beg to differ.

  • Οδυσσέας Μουζίλης
    2019-05-27 12:11

    ... εκεί που πόσταρα εγώ Κυριακή!

  • Alina Maria Ciobanu
    2019-06-14 08:55

    Amos Oz and his daughter, Fania Oz-Salzberger, analyze the text of the Jewish religious books from a non-religious perspective, focusing on the Jewish history, culture and identity. With a pleasant, witty and sometimes ironical style, the authors give the readers food for thought, showing that what links the Jewish people throughout time and space are spoken and written words: "Ours is not a bloodline, but a text line".

  • Ярослава
    2019-05-30 11:54

    Допереклала, ура! Лишилося вичитати. Детальніше писатиму, коли переклад вийде друком. Поки просто відзначу, що я ніколи в житті не читала Біблію стільки, скільки довелося зараз, відловлюючи цитати для перекладу. Ви знаєте, якось навіть сподобалося, на дозвіллі дочитаю))) Не чекала, враховуючи що, як то кажуть, в мене й кісточки релігійної нема.Бо ж чи не зворушливо, коли крізь шалену товщу темних і негостинних років прозирає обличчя неприємного чоловіка і нерадісного, шамотить сухими губами - марно щось робити, бо покоління приходять і йдуть, і що було, те й буде, а потім, попри весь цей розпач - “світло солодке, і добре очам сонце бачити”? Щось у тому є таке зворушливо і вразливо спільнолюдське, в цьому "добре очам сонце бачити".А оце вже з Мішни мила деталь в дусі feel-good мотиваторів на фейсбучику, тіки з духовним ухилом: "Чоловік карбує багато монет з однієї форми, тож вони всі схожі; а Цар Царів викарбував кожного з печаттю Адама, і ніхто не схожий на іншого. Отже, кожен мусить сказати: “Задля мене створено світ”."

  • Barbara
    2019-05-28 06:05

    I heard an intriguing interview with Amos Oz and his daughter, Fania on NPR this week. They are secular/ non religious Jews, but have chosen to address many issues , both biblical and cultural, which are pertinent to the subject. I look forward to exploring this interesting book.

  • Hillá
    2019-06-09 09:52

    Beautifully written, thought provoking, and tender.

  • David Rubin
    2019-06-19 10:56

    For those Jews who are culturally attuned, but religiously detached, this book has a real chance of bringing them back into the fold. These people have a tendency to feel guilty for leaving the God of the Old Testament behind and keeping only the parts they want. Read this book to feel good about that decision!

  • Amir
    2019-05-26 13:00

    Exceptionally good read, a subtle combination of academic and prose, conversational, sympathetic. I like the idea of a textline to replace a bloodline, unassumingly fits in with much deeper ideas in the most eloquent way.

  • Bookaholic
    2019-06-02 11:58

    Citind cea mai recentă carte a lui Amos Oz tradusă în română – Evreii și cuvintele – te întrebi, vrând-nevrând, cum ar fi fost să aibă și copiii românilor drept povești ale copilăriei texte care să provoace întrebări și răspunsuri privind până și cele mai neînsemnate aspecte ale existenței (legate în discuții firesc-contradictorii), în loc de scufițe care sunt mâncate de lup dacă se abat de la drumul stabilit de alții.Evreii și cuvintele este o carte-eseu scrisă de către Amos Oz și fiica acestuia, Fania Oz-Salzberger. Un romancier și un istoric aparținând unor generații diferite scriu o carte vie despre importanța pe care o au pentru identitatea evolutivă a evreilor (și a oricărui popor) mesajele lingvistice transmise de la o generație la alta.Este o carte ce își propune să genereze discuții substanțiale, dincolo de posibilele răspunsuri adunate peste timp, dar și dincolo de timp și de spațiu. Dezistoricizarea contextului se impune de la sine, atâta timp cât subiectul formează importanța educației bazate pe interogație. Pe ce fel de „învățături” punem preț, ce întrebări punem, ce și cum dezbatem, cine cui pune întrebări – sunt doar câteva date ale ecuației, de necontestat fiindcă suntem pavați de cuvinte mult mai mult decât iși imaginează cei mai mulți dintre noi.Evreii și cuvintele (citiți un fragment din carte aici) este mai ales o carte speculativ-reflexivă care evidențiază importanța pe care au avut-o în special textele scrise în continuitatea identitară a evreilor: „Continuitatea evreilor a depins dintotdeauna de cuvintele rostite și de cele scrise, de un labirint de interpretări, dezbateri și dezacorduri, aflat într-o continuă extindere și de un raport interuman unic. La sinagogă, la școală, dar mai ales acasă, a existat mereu un dialog profund între două sau chiar trei generații”.Cei doi aleg drept unitate de măsură a istoriei evreiești cuvintele și privesc continuitatea ca fiind mai ales una textuală. Foarte important este că această privire este aruncată de doi evrei israelieni laici, care nu cred în Dumnezeu (dar pentru care laicitatea nu e rupere cu tradiția, ci doar o înțelegere diferită a lumii și a omului, una realizată dacă nu în liniște, măcar în libertate, efervescența intelectuală, întrebările fiind mai importante decât răspunsurile) și a căror identitate evreiască nu este dată de credință: „Pentru evreii seculari ca noi, Biblia ebraică reprezintă o creație umană magnifică. Exclusiv umană. O iubim și o punem sub semnul întrebării”. Biblia devine un obiect al admirației.Atenția se îndreaptă pe „modelul evreiesc de conversație intergenerațională”, mai ales că și vechile texte ebraice sunt centrate pe două perechi cruciale: părinte-copil și profesor-elev. Mai importantă decât perechea femeie-bărbat, paradigma patrofilială ce stă la baza memoriei, a mitologiei, a ethosului și a artei colective a evreilor este mai puternică decât în alte culturi. Evreii și-au educat copiii (favorizați erau băieții care trebuiau să meargă la școală de la 3 la 13 ani), familiarizându-i cu povești, transformându-i în oameni care depind de cărți.(continuarea cronicii:

  • Miranda
    2019-05-30 08:43

    I would give this book 2.5 stars if I could. My overall feelings upon finishing the book was a general sense of disappointment. As someone whose utmost interests (both personal and academic) involve Judaism, Jewishness, literature, literary culture, and where these things intersect, I had very high hopes for this book. Having read bits and pieces of Amos Oz's work before and seeing Jonathan Safran Foer's (whose writing I love) endorsement on the cover heightened these expectations all the more. But despite having some neat stories and facts here and there and overall constituting a very earnest academic project whose general bent I agree with and find captivating, this book mostly just annoyed me. I know that English is not the authors' first language, but even with that in mind I found the style to be pretty grating. The tone seemed very inflected or stilted, and the authors so frequently inserted their voices into the narrative, which would have been okay if they had not seemed so ingratiating and patronizing. Overly casual and conversational tone including many sentence fragments and constant repetition of some variation on the phrase "The novelist among us thinks..." almost completely ruined for me a book that otherwise had the potential to be very interesting. The book as a whole was rambling and seemed without direction or clear purpose, and I found that the authors' attempts throughout to salvage the patriarchal oppression of women throughout Jewish history (although to their credit they do clearly acknowledge that much of this history is unforgivable and cannot be glossed over) more often turned into pathetic, apologist stances that dug them in deeper. (For instance, the salient point of many of their discussions of why women are indeed represented as strong and individual turned out to be something like "She is indeed afforded respect because look how much they value her ability to raise children!") Overall, a disappointing and tame work of nonfiction with a few interesting moments for those compelled by these topics.

  • Leslie
    2019-06-20 12:52

    According to Jewish tradition, creation begins with words, as God speaks the universe into being in the first chapter of Genesis. In their book Jews and Words, novelist and essayist Amos Oz and his daughter, historian Fania Oz-Salzburger, assert that it is words that form the true chain linking Jews through the ages and around the world – a “textline” rather than a bloodline.In four chapters composed of loosely linked musings about continuity of tradition, women (in which the Orthodox rejection of women’s voices – literal and metaphorical - is decisively refuted), the Jewish relationship with time, and the pull of community versus individuality, the storyteller and the scholar range far and wide through Jewish history and culture. They take the reader from the Bible through the shtetl to modern Israeli life, with glimpses along the way of God studying Talmud (commentary on the laws of the red heifer, if you must know), a Jewish grandmother kvetching at the Almighty on the beach, and Eliezer ben-Yehuda, father of modern Hebrew, speaking it to his children. Throughout, they share their intoxication with language and their Jewish heritage as well as their love and respect for one another, even when they disagree, as father and daughter occasionally must.

  • Louise Silk
    2019-05-30 10:42

    Jews and Words is a thoughtful book that Amos Oz co-wrote the book with his daughter Fania Oz-Salzberger. The fact that they are Israelis and not religious is great! Their depth of knowledge is incredible. They tackle such topics as continuity, time, and women. Except for the women topic, it is hard to find these subjects covered by writers who are not orthodox. There is lots to learn here and lots to think about.

  • Margaret Sankey
    2019-06-13 05:59

    From a very smart father and daughter (novelist and historian), a wide-ranging meditation on Jews and their written and spoken language--Yiddish and Ladino, Jewish mother jokes in the Talmud and Woody Allen, education traditions, legal reform, controversy over women singing in public, jokes, the authorship of the Song of Solomon, teachers and students, medieval and contemporary literature, Renaissance printing, Hebrew grammar and untranslatable poetry.

  • Mich
    2019-05-26 12:52

    This book describes how important text-both oral and particularly written- has been to the continuity of the Jews as a culture. Both Amos Oz and his daughter are excellent in their insights and scholarly references.

  • Sara M
    2019-06-05 11:48

    Na początku jeszcze się zastanawiałam nad sensem i jakością argumentów, ale później było już tylko ładnie i całkowicie straciłam wątek i już tylko sobie powtarzałam, jakie ładne, tak musi być, bo ładne, a jak nie jest, to będzie, bo ładne.

  • Jo
    2019-06-12 07:54

    A real gem of a book, insightful and witty. I hate to return it to the library ... I really wish I had my own copy. It will take some time to write down the most interesting footnotes and trace back all the authors and stories/books they are mentioning (esp. the ones I hadn't heard of before).

  • Ioana Savin
    2019-05-31 11:53

    5 stelute pentru abordarea feminista.

  • Martha Toll
    2019-06-12 09:05

    For an essay which includes this wonderful book, please check this link.

  • Giusy Pappalardo
    2019-06-06 12:04

    Una discendenza di testi, una linea di parole non di sangue, una cultura come tutte le culture permeabile, che ha attinto e attinge, che ha influenzato e influenza l'umanità. Una discussione, una visione laica dell'essere ebrei, non credenti ma ancorati alla tradizione testuale sacra, al metodo di studio, alla trasmissione di latte e parole che arriva dalla famiglia. Per chiunque ami la cultura ebraica, la letteratura, la visione mondana e individualista della filosofia ebraica, l'ironia, l'irriverenza anche verso Dio, la forza dell'azione che reintroduce nel tempo e fa avanzare sempre e comunque, l'autodeterminazione, e soprattutto la visione pragmatica e di rinuncia ad un pezzo di passato per una coesistenza con l'altro popolo, quello palestinese che dovrebbe rinunciare a sua volta al proprio pezzo.Un libro denso e piacevole. Per capire qualcosa di più anche sulla grandezza e sull'interesse della letteratura ebraica. Perché la storia degli ebrei è la storia di tutti, da qualsiasi parte la si osservi.

  • Helena
    2019-06-02 06:44

    Els autors expliquen al llibre l'estreta relació al llarg de la història dels jueus amb el món del llibre i la llengua. Sostenen que aquesta relació ha estat especialment intensa i primerenca en el cas del poble d'Israel, fins al punt d'esdevenir-ne el tret diferencial.Al costat d'aquesta idea hi ha d'altres de complementàries, com ara el paper de les relacions pares/fills i mestres/deixebles a l'hora de mantenir el vincle amb l'estudi i la cultura escrita al llarg de la història i fer-lo perviure. També hi ha espai per analitzar el paper de les dones, el concepte de temps vital o el d'individualitat o col·lectivitat.El llibre és divulgatiu i serveix d'aproximació a alguns conceptes claus del poble d'Israel -conceptes de tipus culturals- des dels ulls instruïts i laics dels seus dos autors.

  • Nostalgic
    2019-05-31 13:47

    This book is a delightful conversation (between writers & reader) about how the continuity and bloodline of the Jewish people runs through words, books, and texts. It stays on this subject throughout in a grand thesis while delving into other discussions like Jewish women and the line between religion and cultural identity. A thought-provoking and charming read.

  • Maurizio Manco
    2019-06-05 07:41

    "La nostra storia non riguarda il ruolo di Dio ma quello delle parole. Dio è una di quelle parole." (p. 61)"Le tue idee non sono le tue idee. Sono la progenie della libreria sul tuo muro e della lingua che abiti."(p. 196)

  • D
    2019-06-17 11:10

    A fun pair of thinkers.How oddOf GodTo chooseThe jews - William Norman EwerNot so odd: the Jews chose God. - Anononline of the armies of Israel, ever-living God, merciful and gracious, sublime, dwelling on high, who inhabiteth eternity. He created this universe by the three Sephiroth - Number, Writing, and Speech. Ten are the numbers, as are the Sephiroth, and twenty-two the letters, these are the Foundation of all things.Jewish continuity has always hinged on uttered and written words...Ours is not a bloodline but a textline.The Courage to Be Secular: Yizhar Smilanky, Samech Yizhar:Secularism is not permissiveness, nor is it lawless chaos. It does not reject tradition, and it does not turn its back on culture, its impact and its successes. Such accusations are little more than cheap demagoguery. Secularism is a different understanding of man and the world, a non-religious understanding. Man may very well feel the need, from time to time, to search for God. The nature of that search is unimportant. There are no ready-made answers, or ready-made indulgences, pre-packaged and ready to use. And the answers themselves are traps: give up your freedom in order to gain tranquility. God's name is tranquility. But the tranquility will dissipate and freedom will be wasted. What then?-------------------------------------------------------------------------Self-conscious seculars seek not tranquility but intellectual restlessness, and love questions better than answers. To secular Jews like ourselves, the Hebrew Bible is a magnificent human creation. Solely human. We love it and we question it.Many of the scriptures, including the Bible at its most eloquent, flaunt opinions we cannot fathom and set rules we cannot obey. All our books are fallible."No ancient civilization," Mordecai Kaplan writers, "can offer a parallel comparable in intensity with Judaism's insistence upon teaching the young and inculcating in them the traditions and customs of their people."Teacher and student, rabbi and talmid, are the mainstay of postbiblical Jewish literature up to modern times. It was an elective relationship: "make a rabbi for yourself," the Mishnah tellingly instructs. Disagreement, within reason, is the name of the game. A fine student is one who judiciously critiques his teacher, offering a fresh and better interpretation.Unlike in Socrates' Athens, and some modern halls of learning, you did not have to be a rich kid to hang around the Master.Ben Zakai was one of the Talmud's brightest lights. Had he lived today, he would have been the type of reader whom Woody Allen referred to as 'a man who knocked off Finnegans Wake on the roller coaster at Coney Island."We are sure you want to know what the "conversations of palm trees" are.Quite probably, the Talmudists were not nice people. We seldom, if ever, meet them making plain human conversation. Nonetheless, they seem to have been great teachers.The Jewish holiday in a nutshell, as the saying goes: they tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat.Jewish tradition found nothing angelic in an untaught child. Kids are no angels. A child must be patiently taught the Jewish fundaments. Ignorance and naiveté have no merit. Why is asking questions a favorite Jewish pastime?The Biblical Hebrew knew no question marks, but the Book of Books is full of questions.Jews display a deeply rooted belief in the power of words to create and re-create reality, at times through prayer but at least as often by argumentative truth-seeking.Deborah and AkivaWe cannot tell -- especially for ancient times -- who was a 'historical figure' and who a myth.All functional families depend on putting disagreements into words.Tamar was a brave heart. When our great-uncle Joseph Klausner arrived in Heidelberg in 1897, he thought he was in heaven. There was such marvelous intellectual company over many a mug of beer in the Kneipe after the philosophical seminar.We are all given our identities by other person and by other things. We are named by everything we ever knew and by everything we ever did.Hot er gesogt!Yiddish: So he said! So what! Why should you care?Unlike most believers of most religions, our Grandma does not conflate faith with awe. She treats the Lord of Hosts with a healthy pinch of chutzpah. If God could be treated in this way, no great hero or famous rabbi is exempt.No matter how bad things get, you got to go on living, even if it kills you - Sholem AleichemYes, the humor is often rude and coarse.Can any civilization survive as a museum or does it only live when it wears the garb of dramatic improvisation?Every time we read a text, we author it in our own image.For you can never step into the same river twice, said the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. And his disciple Cratylus added: not even once.

  • Lianne
    2019-06-10 07:51

    I won a paperback copy of this novel courtesy of the GoodReads First Reads programme. This review in its entirety was originally posted at thought it was interesting how one of the central arguments that both authors focus on with regards to Jewish culture and history was the importance of books. Books, by extension, are also important, perhaps even more so because of how it communicates values, ideas, beliefs from one generation to the next. It is also in keeping with the notion that the Jewish people are one of the peoples of the book. The authors draw up references, text and examples from various literary sources, either from the Torah or other cultural titles, which was very interesting and informative. To my surprise, curiosity, and ultimately my dismay, the authors chose not to include Jewish beliefs and the religion itself in-depth in the discussions. For a book discussing identity, I was expecting a more comprehensive look at the different elements that contribute to Jewish identity and while they do cite religious texts, it would have been interesting to see how the ideas and beliefs contributed to that identity. While the dialogue and debate opened up differing perspectives to the cultural/social/historical/whathaveyou nature of Jewish identity, it does drift structurally. There are four chapters, each focusing on a specific topic, which serves as a guiding point. The first two chapters were pretty cohesive and strong, moving from one point to another, but I found the chapter on “time and timelessness” a little all over the place, touching on points here and there but not fleshing the point out to my satisfaction. While fascinating, I don’t think I could recommend this book as a first-stop if you’re curious about Jewish identity, culture, and community. It’s informative, and it certainly touches on a lot of elements of Jewish culture, but given its partial nature as a dialogue between two individuals about Jewishness as a whole, it does leave the reader wondering what to make of all of the debates and the information. If you’re looking for an introduction, best look elsewhere and then return to this book for a perspective glance.

  • Henk-Jan van der Klis
    2019-06-04 14:09

    Jewish writers play with words. Combine words to get a story. Add the time dimension and it becomes history. Jews have their Tanakh, laws, prophets and scriptures (poems, stories, proverbs, etc.). Jews have a richer history than geography. Father Amos and daughter Fania Oz -Salzberger collaborated on this language meets history endeavor. As secular Jews the Oz-bornes don’t believe in God, don’t have a high esteem on othodox Jews living in Bnei Brak (Jerusalem) and could therefore pick and choose from the Bible, both Tanakh as well as the Christian New or Second Testament, Talmud, Midrash and Jewish novelists from the 19th and 20th century.Blended storytelling, scholarship, conversation and a superficial argument (take our word for it) leads the reader to the importance of continuity, woman, time and timelessness, individualism and name giving. From the unnamed female author of the Song of Songs, thousands of Talmudists that are called by name to the contemporary literature of Isaac Bashevis Singer and David Grossman.Jewish continuity itself according to the authors doesn’t rely on monetheism, monuments, palaces or a distinct peace of land. The fear of being called one nation, one people, or other definitions of the Jewish identity they’re still at the core of it: a continuum. Pity to see the Eternal God who promises his children that He’ll never forsake them and always love them. In my humble opinion the ultimate continuum. History’s lessons from assimilation and secularization are given to us as well. Despite these shortcomings Jews and Words is full of lyricism (translated Hebrew poems), learning and humor (another Jewish cultural heritance). Both authors invite their readers to join the dialogue and make history.

  • Miriam Jacobs
    2019-06-19 14:06

    I've not quite finished this book, so perhaps I am being unfair. Certainly, there is a possibility I will revise these remarks. However, right now I am saddened and disheartened that a work beginning with such promise - I imagined from the introduction and first chapter I would be listening in on a conversation between father and daughter - scintillating, intellectually rigorous, stuffed with literary ideas - each one of which would be its own adventure. Instead, after that marvelous first chapter I found myself swaddled in a thin disquisition on the roles of women in Hebrew text -forced into shape, the apology stretched as far as possible to cover the flaws in the subject, a great disappointment. I have no answer for these writers. I was hoping they would provide an answer for me. It seems there must be a better course than trying to puff up such comparatively meager material with air. The truth is the sages were not much interested in women, and the attention they get in in the Tanach is cursory at best. What texts there are, on the whole, don't dig deep, and some of our efforts to derive meaning for the twenty-first century are not rewarding. My own solution - admittedly not entirely satisfactory - is to regard these stories as primarily about human beings, with only tertiary consideration of gender - at least insofar as we attempt to apply the teaching. In terms of analysis and criticism I think it's best to simply tell the truth - this or that text dismisses the feminine perspective, and if we want to understand what is missing we have to supply it ourselves. I wish I had something more positive to say.

  • Susan
    2019-05-30 06:08

    I find Amos Oz' fiction very difficult; it's so complex and full of layers that reading it is hard work. This non-fiction essay, co-authored with Oz' historian daughter, Fania Oz-Salzberger, is just the opposite. The authors are very clear about what they mean, and it is fascinating.Both authors describe themselves as secular Jews, and they are unapologetic about saying they don't believe in God. In the preface, they explain that they believe "Jewish history and peoplehood form a continuum which is neither ethnic nor political," but rather comes from the "intergenerational transmission of verbal content. They see the Bible, the Talmud, and other Jewish writings (words!) as important historical and/or fictional parts of that heritage, whose validity has nothing to do with whether they are "true" or not.There are four sections, and in each one the authors explain their claim about the primacy of words in the very definition of Jewishness, citing examples from the Bible, the Talmud, and Jewish writers and performers up to the modern age. They support their assertions with historical data, anecdotes, and textual analysis, and every section includes thought-provoking comments for the reader to ponder further. Perhaps their most controversial claim is implied in the title to the fourth section, "Each Person Has a Name; or, Do Jews Need Judaism?" Oz-Salzberger says (p. 57) that "[b]efore the modern age, Hebrew and Jewish vocabularies had no use for a word denoting religion alone." The idea that being Jewish might not have anything to do with Judaism seems a bit extreme to me, but it's definitely food for thought.

  • Judith Hannan
    2019-06-17 08:56

    I read this book on vacation which was not a good choice. Despite its short length, Jews and Words requires deeper attention than it first appears. I have always been a fan of Amos Oz and his beautiful, lyrical writing makes it feel, at first, as if someone is telling you a story. But this is a scholarly work co-written by Fania Oz-Salzberger, an esteemed academic.The thesis of Jews and Words is that what connects Jews throughout the ages is the written word, words of all kinds--sacred, fiction, legal, fable, even jokes. The depth of knowledge of both authors is itself proof of this premise. Both admit at the beginning that they live secular lives and don't believe in God, but because they have learned and absorbed the writings that have been passed down from parent to child over and over again through the generations, they are clearly Jews. I didn't always follow the organization of this book and found that the theme seemed to disappear as the authors discussed various texts. At other times, I wished they took the time to go more deeply into the texts they were sharing. It seemed they assumed the reader would always know what they were talking about. There are notes at the end, however I would have preferred more informatin be woven into the core of the book. Like the authors, my life is more secular than religious, but I do love to study text. So I will re-read portions of this book when I'm not on a beach because I know that I missed too much and didn't do justice to the talents of Amos Oz and his daughter, Fania Oz-Salzbereger.

  • Luiz
    2019-06-17 13:10

    I was giving a talk about the power of words and this was in the sale section the week before. Serendipitous. As a christian and a bit of a intellectual/academic with interests in history and philosophy/theology this was right up my ally. It is split into 4 main chapters with a bit at the end of stuff they couldn't fit any where else.The first part on all jews are teachers and students really struck a chord with me. The second part on women talks about the modern ideas and how the bible was- not balanced but spoke about women and gave them rights, then in the talmudic times it was all men, and that is now swinging more to center.The following 2 chapters got more esoteric but were interesting reads.the idea of moving forward in time while looking back i thought was great. The driving with only your mirrors was a good analogy. Professional i have started tracking stats which help in future projections ( not a new idea but new to me) The bit on names was interesting in that “judaism” and “jews” are modern labels. The misc portion that talks about why jews are funny was informative and built off the 4 chapters. They are very aware of what they are saying and the layers of meaning that can be built in.