Exile and the Jews

Literature, History, and Identity

This first comprehensive anthology examining Jewish responses to exile from the biblical period to our modern day gathers texts from all genres of Jewish literary creativity to explore how the realities and interpretations of exile have shaped Judaism, Jewish politics, and individual Jewish identity for millennia.

Ordered along multiple arcs—from universal to particular, collective to individual, and mythic-symbolic to prosaic everyday living—the chapters present different facets of exile: as human condition, in history and life, in holiday rituals, in language, as penance and atonement, as internalized experience, in relation to the Divine Presence, and more. By illuminating the multidimensional nature of “exile”—political, philosophical, religious, psychological, and mythological—widely divergent evaluations of Jewish life in the Diaspora emerge. The word “exile” and its Hebrew equivalent, galut, evoke darkness, bleakness—and yet the condition offers spiritual renewal and engenders great expressions of Jewish cultural creativity: the Babylonian Talmud, medieval Jewish philosophy, Golden Age poetry, and modern Jewish literature.

Exile and the Jews will engage students, academics, and general readers in contemplating immigration, displacement, evolving identity, and more.

About the authors

Nancy E. Berg is a professor of Hebrew and comparative literature in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. She is the author of Exile from Exile: Israeli Writers from Iraq and coeditor, with Naomi B. Sokoloff ,of the National Jewish Book Award–winning What We Talk about When We Talk about Hebrew (And What It Means to Americans).

Marc Saperstein served as principal and professor of Jewish history and homiletics of the Leo Baeck College, London. His dozen books include “Your Voice like a Ram’s Horn”: Themes and Texts in Traditional Jewish Preaching, a National Jewish Book Award winner in Scholarship, and Agony in the Pulpit: Jewish Preaching in Response to Nazi Persecution and Mass Murder, 1933–1945.

Leave a Comment

Comments and respectful dialogue are encouraged, but content will be moderated. Please, no personal attacks, obscenity or profanity, selling of commercial products, or endorsements of political candidates or positions. We reserve the right to remove any inappropriate comments. We also cannot address individual medical concerns or provide medical advice in this forum.