The Impact of Culture and Cultures Upon Jewish Customs and Rituals

Collected Essays

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Simcha Fishbane
Judaism and Jewish Life
  • Brighton, MA: 
    Academic Studies Press
    , February
     276 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


This book discusses the development of practices associated with customs and artifacts used in Jewish ceremonies when viewed from the vantage of anthropological studies. It can also function as a guide to practical halakhah. The author examines topics such as Torah Scrolls, ceremonial use of fire, Purim customs, the festival of Shavuot, magic and superstition. This investigation, at times, compares some Jewish observances with the wider cultural observances or notions of the broader, gentile societies in which Jews were located when these customs originated.  It is found that the time and location of a practice’s origin is often critical to appreciating a shared context.  In all cases the Jewish practice becomes reinterpreted within a specifically Jewish narrative and legal structure.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Simcha Fishbane is professor of Jewish studies in the Graduate School of Jewish Studies at Touro College. He has published extensively on Jewish subjects and texts. His publications include The Method and Meaning of the Mishnah Berurah (1991) and The Shtiebelization of Modern Jewry (2011).


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