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Products for grant RA-254186-17

Long-Term Research Fellowships at the Center for Jewish History
Rachel Miller, Center for Jewish History

Grant details:

Kabbalah and the Founding of America: The Early Influence of Jewish Thought in the New World (Book)
Title: Kabbalah and the Founding of America: The Early Influence of Jewish Thought in the New World
Author: Brian Ogren
Abstract: Explores the influence of Kabbalah in shaping America’s religious identity. In 1688, a leading Quaker thinker and activist in what is now New Jersey penned a letter to one of his closest disciples concerning Kabbalah, or what he called the mystical theology of the Jews. Around that same time, one of the leading Puritan ministers developed a messianic theology based in part on the mystical conversion of the Jews. This led to the actual conversion of a Jew in Boston a few decades later, an event that directly produced the first kabbalistic book conceived of and published in America. That book was read by an eventual president of Yale College, who went on to engage in a deep study of Kabbalah that would prod him to involve the likes of Benjamin Franklin, and to give a public oration at Yale in 1781 calling for an infusion of Kabbalah and Jewish thought into the Protestant colleges of America. Kabbalah and the Founding of America traces the influence of Kabbalah on early Christian Americans. It offers a new picture of Jewish-Christian intellectual exchange in pre-Revolutionary America, and illuminates how Kabbalah helped to shape early American religious sensibilities. The volume demonstrates that key figures, including the well-known Puritan ministers Cotton Mather and Increase Mather and Yale University President Ezra Stiles, developed theological ideas that were deeply influenced by Kabbalah. Some of them set out to create a more universal Kabbalah, developing their ideas during a crucial time of national myth building, laying down precedents for developing notions of American exceptionalism. This book illustrates how, through fascinating and often surprising events, this unlikely inter-religious influence helped shape the United States and American identity.
Year: 2021
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Worldcat link
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: NYU Press link
Publisher: New York University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9781479807987
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes

Fear and Other Stories (Book)
Title: Fear and Other Stories
Author: Chana Blankshteyn
Abstract: Fear and Other Stories is a translation from Yiddish to English of the collected stories of Chana Blankshteyn (~1860–1939), a woman who may be almost entirely forgotten now but was widely admired during her long and productive life. The mere existence of these stories is itself a remarkable feat as the collection was published in July 1939, just before the Nazis invaded Poland and two weeks before Blankshteyn’s death. Anita Norich’s introduction argues that this is not a work of Holocaust literature (there are no death camps, partisans or survivors of WWII), but anti-Semitism is palpable, as is the threat of war and its aftermath. What could it have felt like to live under these conditions? How might a woman who was a feminist, a Jew, and an activist understand the recent past of war and revolution through which she had lived and also confront the horror that was beginning to unfold? The nine stories in this volume take place primarily in Vilna, as well as various parts of Europe. As if presaging what was to come, World War I and Russian civil wars are the backdrops to these stories, as Jews and non-Jews find themselves under German occupation or caught up in the revolutionary fervor that promised them much and took away almost everything. The young women in Blankshteyn’s stories insist on their independence, on equality with their lovers, and on meaningful work. Like the men in the stories, they study, work, and yearn for love. The situations in which these characters find themselves may be unfamiliar to a contemporary reader, but their reactions to the turmoil, the frighteningly changing times, and the desire for love and self-expression are deeply resonant with today’s audience. The history may be specific, but the emotions are universal. Blankshteyn’s stories are both a view of the final gasp of Eastern European Jewish culture and a compelling modern perspective on the broader world.
Year: 2022
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Worldcat link
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: Publisher link (Wayne State University Press)
Publisher: Wayne State University Press
Type: Translation
ISBN: 9780814349281
Translator: Anita Norich