American Rabbis, Second Edition: Facts and Fiction

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Wipf and Stock Publishers, Jun 21, 2019 - Religion - 314 pages
This book is a broad-brush approach describing the realities of life in the American rabbinate. Factual portrayals are supplemented by examples drawn from fiction—primarily novels and short stories. Chapters include:

♣Rabbinic Training

♣Congregational Rabbis and Their Communities

♣Congregants’ Views of Their Rabbis

♣Women Rabbis [also including examples from TV and Cinema]

♣Assimilation, Intermarriage, Patrilineality, and Human Sexuality

♣God, Israel, and Tradition

This book draws upon sociological data, including the recent Pew Research Center survey on Jewish life in America, and presents a contemporary view of rabbis and their communities. The realities of the American rabbinate are then compared/contrasted with the ways fiction writers present their understanding of rabbinic life. The book explores illustrations from two hundred novels, short stories, and TV/cinema; representing well over 135 authors. From the first real-life women rabbis in the early 1970s to today’s statistics of close to 1,600 women rabbis worldwide, major changes have taken place. Women rabbis are transforming the face of Judaism. For example, this newly revised second edition of American Rabbis: Facts and Fiction reflects a fivefold increase in terms of examples of fictional women rabbis, from when the book was first published in 1998. There is new and expanded material on some of the challenges in the twenty-first century, women rabbis, human sexuality/LGBTQ matters, trans/post/non-denominational seminaries, and community-based rabbis.

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Rabbi Zucker has done extensive research to accurately portray both the current understanding of the American rabbi, as well as how they are represented in fiction. Too often, "clergy" is thought of only in Christian terms, and "rabbi" connotes male and often Orthodox. It's time to update the undersatanding of the contemporary American rabbi, both in terms of who they are and how their jobs have evolved (as well as how congregants relate to them), and this is a fantastic and necessary step in that direction. Highly recommended. 

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As a woman rabbi is small town America, I am very appreciative of David Zucker's research and writing. My tasks are diverse and complicated. I have to confess that my role in my local and broader community continues to evolve and broaden. By means of his own sensitive research and the fictional rabbis he calls upon, David does a beautiful job of portraying my sacred calling and the holy work that I am honored to do. "How do you catch a moonbeam..." Rabbi Zucker has achieved a lovely means of doing so! Rabbi Sara Gilbert 

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The American Rabbi
Mainstream Rabbis and Sectarian Orthodox Rabbis
Rabbinic Training
Congregational Rabbis and Their Communities
Congregational Rabbis and Their Communities Continued
Congregants Views of Their Rabbis
Women Rabbis
The Rabbis Family
Assimilation Intermarriage Patrilineality and Human Sexuality
God Israel and Tradition
CommunityBased Rabbis
Rabbis View the Rabbinate
EpilogueThe Future of the Rabbinate

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About the author (2019)

David J. Zucker writes from an insider's viewpoint. Now retired, his rabbinic career included leading congregations in Great Britain and America, university teaching, and many years as a chaplain in long-term care. The author of several books, he is widely published on many topics, including rabbis in fiction. See

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