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A Twenty-First-Century Introduction to Jews and Jewish Identities

Aaron J. Hahn Tapper (Author)


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What does it mean to be a Jew in the twenty-first century? Exploring the multifaceted and intensely complicated characteristics of this age-old, ever-changing community, Judaisms examines how Jews are a culture, ethnicity, nation, nationality, race, religion, and more. With each chapter revolving around a single theme (Narratives, Sinais, Zions, Messiahs, Laws, Mysticisms, Cultures, Movements, Genocides, Powers, Borders, and Futures) this introductory textbook interrogates and broadens readers’ understandings of Jewish communities. Written for a new mode of teaching—one that recognizes the core role that identity formation plays in our lives—this book weaves together alternative and marginalized voices to illustrate how Jews have always been in the process of reshaping their customs, practices, and beliefs. Judaisms is the first book to assess and summarize Jewish history from the time of the Hebrew Bible through today using multiple perspectives.
Ideal for classroom use, Judaisms
  • provides a synthetic and coherent alternative understanding of Jewish identity for students of all backgrounds;
  • focuses on both the history of and potential futures for physical and ideological survival;
  • includes an array of engaging images, many in color;
  • offers extensive online resources including notes, key terms, a timeline of major texts, and chapter-by-chapter activities for teaching.

1. Narratives
2. Sinais
3. Zions
4. Messiahs
5. Laws
6. Mysticisms
7. Cultures
8. Movements
9. Genocides
10. Powers
11. Borders
12. Futures


Supplementary Resources (see Downloads tab)

Key Terms
Timeline of Major Texts
Aaron J. Hahn Tapper is the Mae and Benjamin Swig Associate Professor in Jewish Studies and the Founder and Director of the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice at the University of San Francisco.
"Hahn Tapper hopes the book will 'convey academic ideas in a digestible way' — for anyone from the casual Jewish reader to the non-Jewish university student taking a course on Judaism. There is plenty in this book that will surprise even many well-read Jews, or recast common knowledge in a new light."—J., the Jewish News Weekly
“Using a social psychology approach, Hahn Tapper...invite[s] readers to see their own identities reflected through the lens of what they [a]re reading and discovering about Judaism and the Jewish experience.”—Renee Ghert-Zand, The Times of IsraelThe Times of Israel
"We've all been taught not to judge a book by its cover, but the cover images of "Judaisms" alert the reader that this is not your typical course reader on the Jewish religion....This book, which serves both as an easy-to-read text for undergrads as well as a more advanced selection for graduate students (footnotes are available online), articulates that today's Jewish community is vastly different than the one at the turn of the last century let alone a century ago." —Rabbi Jason Miller Rabbi With a Blog
"A resounding success in diversifying the picture of Jews and Jewishness."—Reading Religion
"A crucial guide to the multivocality of Jewish experience and ideology. Required reading for anyone looking for an overview of Judaism and Jews, in all of their diversity and complexity."—Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director of T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and author of Where Justice Dwells: A Hands-On Guide to Doing Social Justice in Your Jewish Community

"Sweeping and sophisticated, Judaisms challenges our understanding of the Jewish community and weaves a new narrative, which embraces difference, multiplicity, and contestation. I can think of no one in the field more qualified than Aaron Hahn Tapper in exploring issues of Jewish identities."—Reza Aslan, author of No god but God and Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.

"Aaron Hahn Tapper makes a convincing case for extraordinary diversity of Jewish identities, both in theory and in practice."—Steven M. Cohen, Professor of Jewish Social Policy, Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion

Supplemental Resources for Judaisms


Key Terms - tool to guide and focus study and discussion

Timeline of Major Texts - handout to help orient students to the basic chronology

Activities - chapter-by-chapter activities for teaching

Notes - extensive explanatory notes on sources

Chart - Jewish Movements in the United States

Sample Syllabus - a detailed course syllabus with chapters assigned by week and ideas for course projects

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