Hybrid Judaism: Irving Greenberg, Encounter, and the Changing Nature of American Jewish Identity

Hybrid Judaism: Irving Greenberg, Encounter, and the Changing Nature of American Jewish Identity


Darren Kleinberg
Preface by Marc Dollinger

Series: Studies in Orthodox Judaism
ISBN: 9781618115454 (paperback)
Pages: 170 pp.
Publication Date: November 2016


American Jewish identity has changed significantly over the course of the past half century. During this time, Irving Greenberg developed a unique theology that anticipated David Hollinger's notion of postethnicity and represents a compelling understanding of contemporary American Jewish identity. Greenberg's covenantal theology and image of God idea combine into what Kleinberg refers to as Hybrid Judaism. Central to Greenberg's theology is recognition of the transformative power of encounter in an open society, heavily influenced by his own encounters across Jewish denominational boundaries and through his participation in the Christian-Jewish dialogue movement. Presented here for the first time, Greenberg’s theology of Hybrid Judaism has great relevance for our understanding of American Jewish identity in the twenty-first century.

Darren Kleinberg was ordained by Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in 2005 and completed his doctorate in Religious Studies from Arizona State University in 2014. He currently serves as Head of School at Kehillah Jewish High School, in Palo Alto, California. Prior to arriving at Kehillah, he was the Founding Executive Director of Valley Beit Midrash in Phoenix, Arizona.

Table of Contents


Part I
Chapter 1: Irving Greenberg and the Changing American Jewish Landscape
Chapter 2: The Study and Reality of Religion in America
Chapter 3: The Arc, Part 1: From Melting Pot to Triple Melting Pot
Chapter 4 The Arc, Part 2: From Multiculturalism to Postethnicity

Part II
Chapter 5: Greenberg Encounters the Holocaust
Chapter 6: Dialogue: Greenberg’s Christian Influences
Chapter 7: Klal Yisrael
Chapter 8: The Open Society
Chapter 9: The Image of God and Hybrid Judaism




In Hybrid Judaism, Darren Kleinberg presents a comprehensive and sophisticated analysis of Rabbi Irving Greenberg’s mature thoughts on a host of subjects crucial to modern Jewish life and religious thought, and does so by situating him against the larger backdrop of American religious history and sociology. In this insightful and compelling portrait of Greenberg, Kleinberg has helped us understand how this preeminent Jewish thinker was shaped by the American setting as well as the critical role Greenberg has played in defining the nature and overall directions of modern Judaism. This book is required reading for anyone who wishes to understand Judaism in the modern world as well as American religion as it moves on into the 21st Century.
— David Ellenson, Director, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University and Chancellor-Emeritus, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
For the past half century Rabbi Yitz Greenberg’s role as an innovative institution builder and thinker on issues related to the Holocaust are well known. Kleinberg underscores the significance of Greenberg’s importance as a Jewish thinker by presenting a full analysis of Greenberg’s novel conception of Hybrid Judaism. Kleinberg traces the growth of Greenberg’s thinking, situating it within Greenberg’s rich and complex life experiences.
— Joel Gereboff, Associate Professor, Religious Studies, Arizona State University
Darren Kleinberg offers a masterful integration and analysis of the theology of Yitz Greenberg. Sophisticated, holistic, and insightful, I highly recommend this work.
— Aaron J. Hahn Tapper, PhD, Mae and Benjamin Swig Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, University of San Francisco
American Jewry is in the midst of a sustained period of introspection and re-organization. This is playing out along any number of axes: The repercussions of the Holocaust, the significance of the State of Israel, withering denominational and institutional divisions, and the polarization of religious and political commitments. In this volume, Kleinberg makes a strong case for Yitz Greenberg as one of the leading thinkers of this period, whose writings shape not only how we understood Jewish life in the 20th century, but how we ought to understand it in the 21st.
— Professor Ari Y Kelman Jim Joseph Chair in Education and Jewish Studies Stanford University Graduate School of Education