A distinguished Jewish leader and philanthropist argues for openness and joy to reinvigorate Judaism in America.
After a lifetime of fighting the persecution of Jews, Edgar M. Bronfman has concluded that what North American Jews need now is hope, not fear. Bronfman urges North American Jewry “to build, not fight. We need to celebrate the joy in Judaism, even as we recognize our responsibility to alleviate suffering and to help heal a broken world. We need to understand Judaism as a multi-faceted culture as well as a religion, and explore Jewish literature, music, and art. We need to understand our tradition of debate and questioning, and invite all to enter a conversation about our central texts, rituals, and laws. We need to open our book anew, and recreate a vital Judaism for our time."
Through a reexamination of important texts and via interviews with some of the leading figures in Judaism today, Bronfman outlines a new agenda for the Jewish community in North America, one that will ensure that Judaism grows and thrives in an open society. He calls for welcome without conditions for intermarried families and disengaged Jews, for a celebration of Jewish diversity, and for openness to innovation and young leadership. Hope, Not Fear is an impassioned plea for all who care about the future of Judaism to cultivate a Jewish practice that is receptive to the new as it delves into the old, that welcomes many voices, and that reaches out to make the world a better place.
Edgar M. Bronfman and Beth Zasloff have done the Jewish people a great service. Their book forcefully shows the precariousness of grounding Jewish identity in fear of anti-Semitism and intermarriage; they offer instead an invaluable road map to energizing the range and resonance of Judaism in all of our lives.
Abigail Pogrebin, author of Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish
Part memoir, part manifesto, Hope Not Fear introduces readers to a senior statesman in Jewish life – Edgar M. Bronfman – and to the two generations of Jewish leaders who have transformed him and are now transforming the North American Jewish community as a whole. Revealing, optimistic, and sometimes controversial, this book serves as an uplifting introduction to the people, institutions, issues and ideas that promise to reshape the North American Jewish community of the 21st century.
Jonathan D. Sarna, Ph.D, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and author of American Judaism: A History
This is a brave, honest, painful and joyous book. Edgar M. Bronfman is not afraid to reveal his own failings and his community’s shortcomings. However, even as he bemoans all that has gone wrong, he also has a vision of a great future. He could have, as one of the privileged few, sat back and enjoyed the good life. Instead he has dedicated himself, in a way that would tire a far younger person, to realizing a Jewish renaissance. Both those who are well versed in Jewish tradition and those who know not an aleph from a bet will find themselves provoked and challenged by Hope, Not Fear.
Deborah E. Lipstadt, Ph.D, director of the Rabbi Donald A. Tam Institute for Jewish Studies
Emory University and author of History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving
Hope, Not Fear is a wise book by a Jewish leader who loves Jews and Judaism alike, who studies Jewish texts weekly to learn how to apply their insights in his daily life, and who learns from all serious Jews, whatever their denominational affiliation. What Edgar M. Bronfman has learned is the subject of this thoughtful, insightful meditation, and the book itself fills one with a sense of hope about the Jewish future.
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of A Code of Jewish Ethics and Jewish Literacy
Edgar Bronfman’s new provocative volume is a Jewish leader’s personal quest for new answers to timeless questions; it will certainly challenge many readers concerned with Judaism’s future.