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Book details
  • Genre:RELIGION
  • SubGenre:Judaism / General
  • Language:English
  • Pages:392
  • Format:Paperback
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098337971

In Search of the Religiosity in Religion

Sacred Thought, Sacred Action Revisited

by Jack Shechter

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This book is designed to locate the inner meaning, the essential spirit and underlying purposes of a set of Jewish ideas and practices. It seeks to unpack, to "excavate," what the great theologians of our time, Martin Buber and Abraham Joshua Heschel, have urged us to discern as the "religiosity" embedded in Judaism's sacred thought and action—their seminal current all too often unrealized.
One of the major contributions to Judaism in our time by Martin Buber is the distinction he stressed between "religion" and "religiosity." Religion is the institutional, carefully structured, formal aspects of the faith community containing established doctrine and mandated action. Religiosity is the inner meaning, the irreducible spirit, the essence of the doctrine and practices of the faith community, that which constitutes the essential purpose of the institutional structure. Thus, in Buber's landmark unpacking of the life and literature of Hasidism, he pointed out that what the tzaddikim (spiritual leaders) considered decisive in the observance of religious ritual was the intent and spirit, the aim of the action, the inner purpose of the panoply of practices the faithful were engaged in. Each person was obliged to unite action with its purpose and thus develop wholeness as a truly religious personality. This book is designed to "excavate," as it were, the "religiosity" embedded in a selection of Judaism's faith associations and religious practices.
About the author
For two decades, Jack Shechter, Ph.D., served as Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and Dean of the Department of Continuing Education—renamed The Whizen Center for Continuing Education—at the University of Judaism (now the American Jewish University). Prior to his tenure at the University of Judaism, he served as Executive Director of the New England Region of the United Synagogue of America, followed by a decade as the Rabbi of Congregation B'nai Israel in Pittsburgh. He was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary and received the Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from the University of Pittsburgh, and is the author of The Land of Israel: Its Theological Dimensions (2010) and Journey of a Rabbi (2014), both published by the University Press of America, as well as The Idea of Monotheism: The Evolution of a Foundational Concept (2018), Hamilton Books.
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