Encyclopaedia of Judaism

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Subject: Jewish Studies

General Editors: Jacob Neusner, Alan J. Avery-Peck and William Scott Green

The Encyclopaedia of Judaism Online offers more than 200 entries comprising more than 1,000,000 words and is a unique reference tool.  The Encyclopaedia of Judaism Online offers an authoritative, comprehensive, and systematic presentation of the current state of scholarship on fundamental issues of Judaism, both past and present. While heavy emphasis is placed on the classical literature of Judaism and its history, the Encyclopaedia of Judaism Online also includes principal entries on circumcision, genetic engineering, homosexuality, intermarriage in American Judaism, and other acutely contemporary issues. Comprehensive and up-to-date, it reflects the highest standards in scholarship. Covering a tradition of nearly four thousand years, some of the most distinguished scholars in the field describe the way of life, history, art, theology, philosophy, and the practices and beliefs of the Jewish people.

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Socialism-Yiddishism, Judaism and

(7,224 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Jewish Socialism was a nineteenth and twentieth century movement that joined the social and economic ideals of Socialism to a deep commitment to the formation of a way of life and a world view for an Israel, specifically, the impoverished and working class Jews of Eastern Europe. It is comparable to a Judaism because it presented a complete picture of how one should live life, namely, as an active worker for political change and social improvement, how one should see the world, namely, as someth…

Soul in Judaism

(3,975 words)

Author(s): Avery-Peck, Alan J.
The inner, animating element of human beings, the soul stands in contrast to the physical body, generally comprehended as the vehicle that contains the soul. Within this general definition, cultures throughout the world express a wide range of understandings of the meaning and function of the soul. In ancient near-eastern cultures, for instance, the soul was broadly associated with physical appearance, destiny, and power. Within the culture of ancient Israel, by contrast, rather than being seen …

South Africa, Practice of Judaism in

(6,634 words)

Author(s): Kaplan, Dana Evan
“South African Judaism” refers to the religious beliefs and practices of the approximately 70,000–80,000 Jews living in South Africa today. For a number of reasons, this local Jewish community is unique. First, it exists in the only country in the world in which a substantial Jewish community lives within a black majority, a fact made more significant by the unique transition from apartheid to democracy that has occurred in the past decade. Second, South African Jewry is English-speaking, so tha…

State of Israel, The Practice of Judaism in

(11,511 words)

Author(s): Elazar, Daniel J.
Formally a secular democratic state, Israel has no established religion nor any provisions in its laws requiring a particular religious affiliation, belief, or commitment—Jewish or other—as a prerequisite for holding office. In this way Israel differs from many other Middle Eastern countries, whose constitutions provide that only Christians or Muslims may hold any, or at least certain, public offices. But despite the absence of such requirements, Israel still manifests a close interconnection be…

Stem Cell Research

(9,939 words)

Author(s): Bleich, J. David
Other than the ongoing debate concerning the moral legitimacy of abortion, the heated controversy that erupted during the summer of 2001 regarding government funding of embryonic stem cell research is without parallel in bioethical discourse. The vehemence of the debate is such that each side accuses the other of gross insensitivity to the value of human life. Those who favor such research point to the potential for developing cures for diabetes, Parkinson's disease, senility and other life-thre…

Superstition in Judaism

(9,270 words)

Author(s): Ulmer, Rivka
Superstitions may be categorized as folk religion, folk customs, and folklore. The concept of superstition thus emerges from the existence within religious traditions of powerful elites that determine a religion's official, normative content. Beliefs and practices found within the community that do not conform to this norm frequently are deemed superstition. In this way, religions, including Judaism, determine the way in which power over the individual is exercised by setti…

Surrogate Motherhood

(2,994 words)

Author(s): Bleich, J. David
Despite the passage of time since the New Jersey case of Baby M 1 captured the attention of millions of Americans, both the human and legal questions posed by surrogate motherhood remain largely unresolved. Medically, the procedure is not at all complex and represents a simple method of coping with female infertility. A woman who is willing to serve as a surrogate, usually in return for a fee, is found and an agreement is reached. She is artificially inseminated with the semen of the in…