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Rites of Passage in Judaism Edited by Rela M. Geffen (277 Pages)Publisher: Jewish Publication Society, 1993
Celebration and Renewal> presents the Jewish perspective on the life cycle. In ten lively, readable, and penetrating essays, rabbis, psychologists, sociologists, and educators from all branches of Judaism discuss Jewish law and legal precedents and explore their contemporary applications. In her introduction, Rela M. Geffen explains, "The reader will find law interspersed with social science and philosophy. Some chapters, such as those on birth, conversion, marriage, divorce, illness, and death, focus more on legal development and the description of rituals, while others, such as those on parenting, midlife, and aging, are more sociological, psychological, and philosophical in emphasis. Yet, Judaism's positive way of looking at life as celebration and renewal permeates the whole, reflecting the many voices speaking through this volume." The contributors show what tradition teaches, which rituals have historically been available to mark life's passages. Legal precedents are presented with precision and clarity. The authors break new ground where tradition does not supply defined public rituals - they draw contemporary practice as it is developing in the pluralistic American Jewish community. Striking a balance between the best of scholarship and the insights of science, they describe the halakhic basis, as well as the contemporary spectrum of American practice. The wide-ranging expertise of the contributors enhances the exceptional usefulness of this resource book: a basic reference for a home library; a perfect source for students of all ethnic and religious backgrounds as well as for university courses on Judaism and world religions; a guide to adult learning for synagogue groups, community centers, havurot; an insightful basis for introductory courses on Judaism for converts.