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Confronting Scandal

How Jews Can Respond When Jews Do Bad Things

Dr. Erica Brown

6 x 9, 192 pp, Hardcover, 978-1-58023-440-5

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“We can battle insensitivity, immorality, and dishonesty in our lives individually and collectively as a people. We have a wonderful road map in the Torah and its traditions. It is time to think seriously about our reputation in the world and what we can do to enhance it, not because we want to look good but because we want to be good.”

—from Chapter 6

What should we do when we see other Jews behaving badly?

Most Jews are good, upstanding people who live by a strong moral code and follow Isaiah’s words to be a light to others. But when Jews in the public sphere make headlines for being caught in scandals, their actions can provoke anger, shame and a sense of betrayal in the larger Jewish community.

In this insightful and timely book, Jewish scholar Dr. Erica Brown presents an intentional, disciplined framework to explore the emotions provoked in the Jewish community by reports of Jews committing crime. She proposes that we transform our sense of shame into actions that inspire and sustain a moral culture. Drawing from the Hebrew Bible, Talmud and our centuries-long Jewish commitment to ethics, she outlines ways you can activate and operate your personal moral compass, and shows how you can empower yourself with sacred obligation, responsibility, kindness and knowledge to increase Jewish pride.

“Thoughtful.... An excellent read, a key addition to Judaic studies collections.”

California Bookwatch

“I have been hoping for such a book and here at last it is. Confronting Scandal is a genuine act of conscience. Erica Brown rightly insists, with learning and with compassion, but also with an appropriate strictness, that the Jewish duty of self-criticism is to be taken seriously. Her polemic against moral complacence falls squarely into the great tradition of Jewish ethical literature. Her book deserves the close attention, and the deep gratitude, of her community.”

Leon Wieseltier

“Mature and dispassionate.... Timely.”

Kosher Bookworm

“Sensitive and accessible…. Demands we raise the bar on ethics, both personally and institutionally, by owning up to negative stereotypes, facing up to difficult truths, and living up to what it means to be a member of the Jewish people.”

Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman, author, Rethinking Synagogues: A New Vocabulary for Congregational Life, and editor, Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef

“A timely work, urging moral clarity and action.”

New York Jewish Week

“In Confronting Scandal, Dr. Erica Brown, public intellectual par excellence, has written a compelling guide on the direction Jewish life must take if we are to remain true to the tenets of Judaism and have something to teach the world. This is an important book by an important writer.”

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author, Jewish Literacy, A Code of Jewish Ethics and Hillel: If Not Now, When?

“An honest and thoughtful examination of one of the most vexing issues in communal life. A must read for anyone who cares about building a strong and ethical Jewish community for the future.”

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, author, There Shall Be No Needy: Pursuing Social Justice through Jewish Law and Tradition

“Full of wise words as to why Jews should care about Jewish crime and what should be done about it.... Insightful.”

Washington Jewish Week

“Erica Brown has written a bold, honest, and necessary book about our collective Jewish failure to come to terms with our collective Jewish failures. Engagingly written by one of American Jewry’s most refreshing new voices, it deserves to be widely read and deeply heeded.”

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of Britain and the Commonwealth

“Excellent and thought-provoking.... A fascinating work that should be widely read.”

Reporter Group

Confronting Scandal is an important and courageous book for all, especially at this moment in Jewish history. It is important reading for Jewish community leaders who are already facing the terrifying issues that Erica raises without the benefit of her Jewish knowledge and wisdom. Confronting Scandal provides clear, informed, and wise Jewish context for confronting these challenges.”

Barry Shrage, president, Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston

 

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