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Being Jewish Today : Confronting the Real Issues
Bloomsbury Continuum

Being Jewish Today : Confronting the Real Issues

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Being Jewish Today
Author(s): Tony Bayfield

This is a book which understands and faces the impact of modernity on the Jewish community today.

Being Jewish Today gives an account of both the journey of a particular British Jew and the journey of millions of women and men through today's perplexing and difficult world. With honesty and integrity Rabbi Tony Bayfield breaks new ground in exploring the meaning of Jewish identity and its relationship to Jewish tradition and belief. He does so from the perspective of a person fully integrated into the modern Western world. The rigorous questions he asks of his Jewishness, Judaism and the Jewish God are therefore substantially the same as those asked by all faiths and none.

Beginning with an account of the journey of Jewish people and thought from ancient times to the present day, Bayfield goes on to consider Jewish identity, Israel as land and the scourge of anti-Semitism. He then turns to the twin concerns of Torah: Halakhah – practice, and Aggadah – ethics, along with the matter of belief in a world faced with global extinction. Finally, in addressing the manifest injustice of life, Rabbi Bayfield confronts the widely evaded questions of universal suffering and divine inaction.

Drawing on key religious and secular thinkers who contribute to the force of his argument, Bayfield's masterful, challenging and urgent book will appeal to all Jews, whether religious or cultural, and to anyone curious about the nature of Judaism and religion today.


“This inspiring book has made me a better Jew, one who understands more, who knows more. No wonder Rabbi Bayfield enjoys such a high intellectual reputation.” —Daniel Finkelstein

“This remarkable book takes us on a journey: geographic, historical, cultural, philosophical, political, autobiographical and, yes, religious. One can almost hear the wise, warm, witty voice of Tony Bayfield; his humanity suffuses the entire volume. For Jew and non-Jew alike there is so much here to satisfy curiosity and promote understanding.” —Michael Marmot

“A deeply humane, learned and personal reflection on Jewish identity, full of insights and challenges for non-Jews. At this time of resurgent prejudice, it is crucial to have books like this to keep mind and conscience awake.” —Rowan Williams, Former Archbishop of Canterbury

“Brilliant – clear but erudite, entertaining but weighty, personal but universal” —Rebecca Front, actress

“Mesmerizing, intelligent, honest, Rabbi Bayfield movingly opens the soul of the reader to the religious depths of his work. This book is a treasure.” —David Ellenson, Chancellor Emeritus of Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion

“Written with engaging humor, intellectual openness and humility, Being Jewish Today delivers just what the title promises: a thoughtful and inviting statement of what it means to be a Jew in today's complicated world. While entirely relevant to American Jews, it also provides an interesting window into some of the differences between the American and British Jewish situations” —Judith Plaskow, Professor Emerita of Religious Studies, Manhattan College and author of Standing Again at Sinai

“Rabbi Professor Tony Bayfield has produced a magnum opus for our time” —Deborah Kahn-Harris, Rabbi and Principal, Leo Baeck College

“A wonderful new book … The theme of Rabbi Bayfield's book is how to understand Judaism now that science and modern sensibility has changed the way we look at the world. And this addresses problems I struggle with all the time … Rabbi Bayfield deals with all this with great sensitivity.” —Daniel Finkelstein, Jewish Chronicle

“Tony Bayfield, a theologian and former head of the Movement for Reform Judaism, reflects on the universal dimensions of Judaism and those parts concerned with Jewish identity” —Financial Times

“British Jews rarely produce theology that demands to be read. Tony Bayfield has … In attempting to answer the perplexities and uncertainties of contemporary life, Being Jewish Today is part of the Jewish quest for meaning, for Torah. Rabbi Bayfield has done a great service by bringing it to light.” —Harry Freedman, Jewish Chronicle

ISBN:  9781472962089