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Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Citadel Press Inc.,U.S.; annotated edition edition (3 Aug. 2006)
This is the first book to connect ancient Judaism and Neopaganism. In this first-of-its-kind text, Jennifer Hunter draws on pre-monotheistic Hebrew history, mainstream and alternative Judaism, ceremonial magic and eclectic NeoPaganism to create spells, meditations, rituals and holiday traditions. "Magickal Judaism" infuses NeoPagan rituals with the living, breathing rites of the Jewish people, revealing a liberating new spirituality. Appealing to those Jewish by birth, Pagan by practice, or drawn to both Jewish and Pagan paths, "Magickal Judaism" provides all the tools needed to craft a holistic and integrated religious path, including how to: celebrate Jewish holidays in authentic tribal ways; connect with the powerful teachings of the Kabbalah; discover the magic of keeping kosher and observing the Sabbath; connect with the Canaanite Goddesses and the Shechinah; and craft effective spells using ancient Jewish symbols and folk magic.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A good work on an obscure subject31 Dec. 2006
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I'm giving this book four stars although 4.5 stars would more accurately reflect my assessment. I consider it a good piece of writing for the general reader on a subject that sorely needs to be written about. In 270 pages Ms. Hunter covers topics ranging from Jewish history and mythology to perspectives on the divine to mysticism to the yearly cycle to ritual both Neo-pagan and Jewish. She also provides background information on magical and Jewish terms and concepts as well as a bibliography and recommended websites for futher research.
The area of magical Judaism has, until recently, been a very overlooked subject and the idea of combining Neo/Pagan practices and/or beliefs with Jewish ones has been nigh unto unheard of, the two paths generally being thought of as anathema to each other. What has been written about the magical aspects of Judaism has either come from the perspective of the Orthodox where the topic has been so obscured by mainstream Jewish beliefs as to be difficult to find or from ceremonial magic which has adapted Jewish concepts for it's own purpose. Neither perspective is terribly helpful for the growing number of Jews trying to integrate the practices/beliefs found in the more nature based or polytheistic segments of Neo-Paganism with a path that is Jewish to some degree. The elements to do this are there to be found though and this book does a decent job of drawing them out and showing how they have been adopted, adapted or otherwise utilized. Ms. Hunter delivers a work that is informative as well as being inspirational to and supportive of those following this path.
I found this book easy to read. One of the things I really liked about Ms. Hunter's writing style is how she performed more of the roll of facilitator for the various topics than lecturer on them. We hear from the practitioners themselves rather than information being related second hand. Her words provide informative and smooth background and transitions from comment to comment and between topics. She makes the topics accessible to the general reader by not getting overly technical and yet the reader who has a more than basic knowledge of Judaism and/or Paganism will not find it so simplistic as to be boring. For me this was one of those books in which new things are found on subsequent readings and it has and undoubtedly will continue to be a reference work and idea source for my own practice. Over all I enjoyed her writing style very much and look forward to reading her other works.
I can only hope that her other works will show the diversity, where appropriate, that she has managed to include in this book. Much of her background material on Jewish magical elements, both the knowledge and practice of them, is drawn from Orthodox sources but for better or worse, that is where they have been preserved over the centuries. It has only been relatively recently that they have crept into liberal mainstream Jewish practice and thought. Traditional Jewish elements are being combined with liberal Jewish paths and non-Jewish paths in a myriad of ways and Ms. Hunter has managed to address the diversity of these paths through her choices of the 13 interviewees, none of whom duplicate each other in belief or practice.
My one disappointment with this book is that it doesn't go further in depth. In many areas I found it enough to whet my appetite but not enough to sink my teeth into. Magickal Judaism is a seminal work in the field though and anyone who has an interest in non-mainstream Judaism or adding depth to a mainstream liberal Jewish practice should read it. I hope that this book proves to be only the first on the interplay of Jewish and Neo-Pagan thought and practice and the incorporation of magic into mainstream Jewish practice; it's a great place to begin.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
An Excellent Introduction to Magickal Judaism2 Aug. 2006
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The book is a mixture of narrative and interviews with a variety of flavors of Jewitches. There are thirteen featured contributors to this book. I find that number funny as hell, since that's the traditional number of people in a Wiccan coven. Oh, and let me say up front -- I don't think there's a Wiccan in the bunch, except maybe Jen. Each of the feature contributors, including myself, were interviewed by Jennifer either by phone or email about a variety of topics. Our answers are used as illustrations throughout the book, as Jennifer brings up various issues about the world of Jewitchery. Jennifer does a great job of explaining both the Pagan and Jewish elements, without being pedantic. In reality, most readers will have a stronger foundation in one than the other and need explanations of different terms and ideas.
I'm really impressed by how well Jen was able to show the variety and diversity in our small community. The age range and paths of the people interviewed is far and wide. I think one thing that will surprise people is how old we all are. I'm one of the youngest at 32 (at the time I was interviewed). Many of the people interviewed are in their 40s and up. I am also glad that Jen was able to include Elisheva. While Elisheva would never call herself a Jewitch, she is a hugely important part of the Magickal Judaism community. Also as a native Israeli, she brings a unique and often surprising perspective to things.
I highly recommend this book to everyone in the Magickal Judaism community both as a personal read and as a great way to explain your beliefs and community to your family. I'm really proud of being a part of this book. I'm going to add it to my "Jewitchery 101" reading list -- because I think anyone who calls themself a Jewitch, owes it to themself to read this book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Magickal Judaism3 Nov. 2006
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What a fantastic book! Many relevant questions presented and answered from various view points in a style reminiscent of Talmudic style commentary. This book assured me that I was not alone on this rather bewildering and contradictory stage of my journey. Though the insights shared in the text, I have a better understanding of my history and the Craft, making it easier for me to find my own way integrating the the 2 practices into a meaningful way of life for me. I bought copies of this book for each of my siblings to help on their journeys, also. Many thanks to Jennifer Hunter for her gift, showing that is really is possible to work under 2 stars!
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The tradition that neopaganism forgot...but no longer!14 July 2006
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Oy, it's about time. Finally, a book that acknowledges the meshuganah pagans and their contribtutions to Wicca and neopaganism. Few people realize how much of Wiccan ritual tradition has pagan Jewish roots, and this book points out what we've all been missing for so long. The author's approach to her subjects is sensitive, the writing style is easy to read, and this book is a wonderful way for pagans to learn about an underrepresented group of colleagues. The majority of pagans may not identify as Norse, Stregas, Egyptian, or Voodoo, but they have had the opportunity to learn about these traditions from authors connected to their roots. Up until now, it hasn't been possible to learn about the Jewish connection to neopaganism, but now that has changed.
Hunter interviewed an interesting sample of contributors, but it is not as extensive or varied as the sample for her previous book on pagan sexuality. Phyllis Curott is conspicuously missing, for example, and I would have appreciated her viewpoint here. But the author otherwise gives us a good sense of Jewish American Paganism. In general, they do not the share the Zionism of mainstream American Jews (and Starhawk most definitely does not), but they do place an emphasis on historical research, already emphasized among Norse pagans. Like other pagans, they are happy to leave their monotheistic beliefs behind them, but they want very much to retain the stuff which merges easily with modern pagan belief. All we need now is a collection of pagan tales from the time before Mohammed to round out our knowledge of witches from the Middle East.
Jewish Magick a good beginning13 Feb. 2011
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An old/New kind of Jew is arising on the Jewish scene, the Jewish Pagan. A Jewish Pagan is someone who combines their Judaism and Paganism is some way or another. Some identify as Pagans of Jewish backgrounds while others bring Pagan practices into their Judaism. Some bring Jewish material into their worship of Pagan Gods/Goddesses.
Jewish Paganism is not entirely new however, the Canaanites were the fore runner of the Israelites. Their Gods included El, Asherah, Baal and Anath. El is the father Gods and is referred to in the Jewish Torah. Ashera was his consort. Jews worshipped Ashera up until the falling of the second temple. The Ancient Israelites were not pure monotheists even though there tribal God was YHVH. YHVH existed along side other deities. It is mentioned in the prophets that the Israelites worshipped Ashtoret the Queen of Heaven and honored Dummuzzi a Babylonian Shepherd God.
Being Paagan and Jewish are not as contradictory as one may think. Many Jews today will adopt Celtic deities and most are predominantly Wiccan. Some of the Wiccns in Israel may be entirely Pagan in many ways but will not touch the Caanaanite Gods. Here is America the story is a bit different.
Some of the most famous Wiccan Jews would include Starhawke,Marion Weinstein and Merlin Stone. These Jews have had a major impact in the shaping of Moden Day Wicca. In fact Jews make up a pretty high percentage of Neo-Pagans. Becoming aa Neo-Pagan is not the same as becoming a Christian or a Muslim both groups which at certain historical junctions have had conflicts with the Jews. Neo Paganism is not antagonistic towards Judaism and both are sort of outsider religions.
The Pagan paths and the Jewish path share many similiarities. Both are concerned primarily with the her and now and creating a sacred space. Both spiritual pursuits lend themselves well to either a solitary or group practice. Both also have a sense of the feminine in the divine although in Modern Orthodox Judaism the trend might be to suppress the femenine side.
Western Occult and magickal traditions use kabbalistic material and inspiration quite freely and Kabbaallah is the bassis for most system of Magick, Wicca included. THere are religious Jews that practice Western Magick.
The author, Jennifer Hunter, has prepared a nifty little book to get the budding magickal Jew started. She covers scholarly material from Raphael Patai and Areyeh Kaplan, two prominent Jewish scholars. Material is also directly quoted from Marion Weinstein and Starhawke. Two Wiccan Jews that have influenced countless Wiccan. Jennifer also interviews some prominent Jewish Pagans active in the community. A nice little bonus are some goodies that aa Jewitch can include in their grimoires. This book is a great starting point to great journey. Happy Trails.