Defenders of the Faith: Studies in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Orthodoxy and Reform

Defenders of the Faith: Studies in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Orthodoxy and Reform


Judith Bleich

Touro University Press
ISBN: 9781644691441 (hardcover)
Pages: approx. 450 pp.
Publication Date: January 2020


The Emancipation of European Jewry during the nineteenth century led to conflict between tradition and modernity, creating a chasm that few believed could be bridged. The emergence of modern traditionalism was fraught with obstacles. The essays published in this collection eloquently depict the passion underlying the disparate views, the particular areas of vexing confrontation and the hurdles faced by champions of tradition.

The author identifies and analyzes the many areas of sociological and religious tension that divided the competing factions, including synagogue innovation, circumcision, intermarriage, military service and many others. With compelling writing and clear, articulate style, this illuminating work provides keen insight into the history and development of the various streams of Judaism and the issues that continue to divide them in contemporary times.

Judith Bleich, Ph.D., has been Professor of Judaic Studies at the Touro Graduate School of Jewish Studies since its inception and has taught at the Lander College for Women for over four decades. In 2004, she received the Founding Faculty Award of the Lander College for Women. She specializes in the nineteenth-century development of Reform and Orthodoxy in the wake of the Enlightenment and has written and lectured extensively on modern Jewish history. She serves on the editorial committee of Tradition, is a contributing editor of Jewish Action and a member of the Orthodox Forum Steering Committee. 

Table of Contents


Introduction. Nineteenth to Twenty-First Centuries: From Pessimism to Optimism
1. Rabbinic Responses to Nonobservance in the Modern Era
2. The Emergence of an Orthodox Press in Nineteenth-Century Germany
3. The Circumcision Controversy in Classical Reform in Historical Context
4. Clerical Robes: Distinction or Dishonor?
5. Intermarriage in the Early Modern Period
6. Military Service: Ambivalence and Contradiction
7. The Testament of a Halakhist
8. Between East and West: Modernity and Traditionalism in the Writings of Rabbi Yehi’el Ya‘akov Weinberg
9. Liturgical Innovation and Spirituality: Trends and Trendiness