22 September 2009

Books: Jewish Publication Society's new blog

The Jewish Publication Society (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is directly responsible for my general interest in genealogy and specifically in Sephardic history.

Back in junior high school, when I attended summer music camp at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, I found the campus bookstore and my first buy was the JPS edition of Cecil Roth's "History of the Marranos" - before most of us knew that the word was pejorative.

JPS now has its own blog and one post I found interesting was Don't know much bout Jewish history, which addresses historiography, or the history of history. Some historians write about history, other historians write abut how other historians write history.

Depending on who is writing for whom, their research methodology, philosophy and values, various writers will develop different views of the same event or period.

Naomi wrote in this post about Zakhor: Jewish Memory and Jewish History, by Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, a case of Jewish historiography.

In this book, Yerushalmi traces the development of how Jews not only studied, but remembered, their own history. According to Yerushalmi, throughout much of its lifetime, Judaism has had an uneasy relationship with the formal writing and studying of history. He claims that writers of Jewish history over the ages have typically engaged in what should really be called “selective memory” – recording and commemorating some events and not others, couching historical events in a religious language and context, or simply forgoing recorded history in favor of commemorative holidays or liturgical poems. It’s all fascinating stuff, gracefully written, and completely accessible for any lay reader.
She adds that in the near future JPS will be publishing a Jewish history work dating to the medieval period. Sounds interesting!


  1. Wow! We're honored that you appreciate our work so much and that you've found our blog to be a good resource!


    Alx Block

    Online Manager


  2. Hi, Alx. Love your name, BTW.
    Also picked up on authors coming to the break-fast. :-)
    thanks for writing.