The Many Ways Jews Loved

A History from Printed Words and Images

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About the Book

While acknowledging the ways in which persecution inevitably affects a community, this book deviates from most Jewish studies to survey the ways in which Jewish history has been shaped by the everyday experience of love. It examines erotic poetry, sensual art and literature, and biblical and rabbinic stories about lust. It reviews the ways in which Jewish law has both encouraged and regulated sexual interaction and studies the diversity of Jewish attitudes toward such relationships, found in a vast array of works whose authors and artists often speak to the confusion and failure of love while also finding a purpose in its pursuance. It tells the stories of those people who revel in love and of others who remember love and grieve in its absence.

About the Author(s)

Constance Harris, formerly an active part of the Jewish Federation Council of Los Angeles, served as president of the Women’s Conference and organized the Women’s Interfaith Committee. She lives in Walnut Creek, California.

Bibliographic Details

Constance Harris
Foreword by Todd M. Edelman
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 212
Bibliographic Info: 77 photos, glossary, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7818-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3821-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Foreword by Todd M. Endelman 1
Introduction 3
Part I—The Way Jews Loved Each Other
1. Overview Over Time 6
2. Marriage: Good, Better and Not So Good 18
3. The Bible In and Out of Love 32
4. The Family: More Questions Than Answers 52
5. The Golden Middle Ages 71
6. Midrash and Magic 81
7. The Many Languages of Love 93
8. Age of Reason—Challenge of Tradition 104
9. Chasing Modernity 119
10. Tracing Modernity 132
11. How God Coped with Sex 150
Part II—The Way Jews Loved Tradition
12. Essen un Fressen 164
13. Artisanship and Crafts 179
14. Laughing at Love 193
Glossary 201
Selected Bibliography 203
Index 205

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Constance Harris guides the reader through the many layers of Jewish texts with charm, wit, and a clear love for the wild and wonderful world of Jewish story telling.  The Way Jews Loved is an important reminder of the vitality and variety of embodied Jews who, throughout history, have given life to the words on the page”—Rabbi Jay Asher LeVine, Temple Isaiah, Lafayette, California

• “Constance Harris has written a book that explores Judaism’s breadth and depth. An impressive achievement that is sure to captivate many readers.”—Deborah E. Lipstadt, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

• “Constance Harris has written a book about a subject of great complexity and importance in which she weaves together the often compartmentalized academic and personalized dimensions of the study of Jewish life, past and present. Culling together a broad array of interesting sources, and weaving them together with her own experiences and observations, she has produced a monograph that is at once interesting, illuminating, and engaging; that is accessible to lay readers of a variety of educational backgrounds. Her familiarity with the subject is impressive and well-constructed; her ability to identify and cite a variety of Jewish texts is equally impressive. Her analysis of works of art is terrific!”—Howard Lupovitch, Professor of History and Director of the Cohn Haddow Center for Judaic Studies, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan