Jews: nearly everything you wanted to know* *but were too afraid to ask
Author: Peter Cave (King's 1972) and Dan Cohn-Sherbok (Wolfson 1971)
Publisher: Equinox Publishing Ltd
Who are the Jews? What do they believe? Why is Israel so important to them? What’s all this about self-hating Jews? These are just some of the questions that engage a Reform rabbi and a Humanist philosopher in their lively and intriguing conversations. From Antisemitism to Zionism, from animal slaughter kosher-style to the Zeitgeist of Jewish disparaging humour, rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok gives us the flavours, traditions and ‘feel’ of Jewish life and identity enmeshed in the importance of the Holy Land, while philosopher Peter Cave gets him to dig deeper, revealing philosophical perplexities, unsettling questions — and even Wittgenstein. The book is unique for it challenges unconscious assumptions such as the Jewish conviction that Judaism must survive and that Hitler must not secure a posthumous victory — as well as widening eyes to searching questions concerning a nation’s identity and what justifies territorial rights. Because Jewish humour plays a crucial role in Jewish life, this wide-ranging and thought-provoking exploration includes Jewish jokes and Dan’s Jewish cartoons, all designed to add some spice to the dish of what it is like to be a Jew in these modern times. The dialogues introduce the non-Jewish to the Jewish world of argument, anguish and identity — and will lead Jews to discover some fresh approaches and challenges to their interests and worries. For both Jews and non-Jews, this book casts lights — with an engaging and accessible tone — for, clearly, this rabbi and philosopher enjoy the cut and the thrust.