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Radical Then, Radical Now: On Being Jewish: The Legacy of the World's Oldest Religion (Continuum Compacts) [Paperback]

Jonathan Sacks
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 Jan 2004 Continuum Compacts
The Jewish People in its very being constitutes a living protest against a world of hatred, violence and war. Radical Then, Radical Now is a popwerful testimony to the amazing resilience of the Jeqwish people who have, through their endurance of four thousand years of persecution and exile, earned a unique place in history. Without land or power, they created an identity for themaselves throguh their shared dreams of freedom, justice, dignity and human rights.

yet far more than Jewish history is contained withoin the pages of this book. Jonathan Sacks reminds us all of the l;egacy of those dreams and of our responsibility to our fellow man. he challenegs us to build a better woprld.

'Of all the questions of life, the two most penetrating are ' Who Am ? Who Are We? Rabbi Sacks answers beautifully. On matters of faith he is one of my favourite writers'

Michael Novak

Scholar at The American Enterprise Institute

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Radical Then, Radical Now: On Being Jewish: The Legacy of the World's Oldest Religion (Continuum Compacts) + The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning + Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations
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Product details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury 3PL; New Ed edition (29 Jan 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826473369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826473363
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 12 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 373,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks has been Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth since September 1, 1991, the sixth incumbent since 1845.

In July 2009, appointed to the House of Lords as a cross-bencher.

Prior to becoming Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Sacks served as Principal of Jews' College, London, the world's oldest rabbinical seminary, as well as rabbi of the Golders Green and Marble Arch synagogues in London. He gained rabbinic ordination from Jews' College and London's Yeshiva Etz Chaim.

His secular academic career has also been a distinguished one. Educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he obtained first class honours in Philosophy, he pursued postgraduate studies at New College, Oxford, and King's College, London. Sir Jonathan has been Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex, Sherman Lecturer at Manchester University, Riddell Lecturer at Newcastle University, Cook Lecturer at the Universities of Oxford, Edinburgh and St. Andrews and Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He is currently Visiting Professor of Theology at Kings' College London. He holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Bar Ilan, Cambridge, Glasgow, Haifa, Middlesex, Yeshiva University New York, University of Liverpool, St. Andrews University and Leeds Metropolitan University, and is an honorary fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and King's College London. In September 2001, the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred on him a Doctorate of Divinity in recognition of his first ten years in the Chief Rabbinate.

At his installation as Chief Rabbi in 1991, Dr Sacks set out his vision of a reinvigorated Anglo-Jewry and launched it with a Decade of Jewish Renewal, followed by a series of innovative communal projects. These included Jewish Continuity (a national foundation funding programmes in Jewish education and outreach), the Association of Jewish Business Ethics, the Chief Rabbinate Awards for Excellence, the Chief Rabbinate Bursaries, and Community Development, a national programme to enhance Jewish community life. In 1995, he received the Jerusalem Prize for his contribution to diaspora Jewish life. In September 2001 the Chief Rabbi began his second decade of office with a call to Jewish Responsibility and a renewed commitment to the ethical dimension of Judaism. He was awarded a Knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 2005. A notably gifted communicator, the Chief Rabbi is a frequent contributor to radio, television and the national press. He frequently delivers BBC RADIO 4's THOUGHT FOR THE DAY, writes a monthly CREDO column for THE TIMES and delivers an annual Rosh Hashanah message on BBC 2. In 1990 he was invited by the BBC Board of Governors to deliver the annual Reith Lectures on the subject of THE PERSISTENCE OF FAITH.

The Dignity of Difference was awarded the 2004 Grawemeyer Prize for Religion, and A Letter in the Scroll a National Jewish Book Award 2002.

Born in 1948 in London, he has been married to Elaine since 1970. They have three children, Joshua, Dina and Gila and five grandchildren.


Tradition in an Untraditional Age (1990)

Persistence of Faith (1991)

Arguments for the Sake of Heaven (1991)

Crisis and Covenant (1992)

One People? (1993)

Will We Have Jewish Grandchildren? (1994)

Community of Faith (1995)

Faith in the Future (1998)

The Politics of Hope (1997)

Morals and Markets (1999)

Celebrating Life (2000)

Radical Then, Radical Now (2001)

The Dignity of Difference (2002)

The Chief Rabbi's Haggadah (2003)

From Optimism to Hope (2004)

To Heal a Fractured World (2005)

The Authorised Daily Prayer Book: new translation and commentary (2006)

The Home We Build Together (2007)

Future Tense (2009)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks' Radical Then, Radical Now is destined to join the masterpieces of modern Judaic scholarship as his magnum opus, a magisterial work that, in its breadth of vision and beauty of language, is unlikely to be surpassed by any other Jewish thinker of our age. Preceded by tumultuous applause in the United States, where it has just won a National Jewish Book Award, it succeeds two other contemporary classics--Isidore Epstein's Judaism and Herman Wouk's This Is My God--as the definitive exposition of Judaism for the new millennium.

Every Jew, writes Rabbi Sacks, is a letter. "Each Jewish family is a word, every community a sentence, and the Jewish people at any one time are a paragraph. The Jewish people through time constitute a story, the strangest and most moving story in the annals of mankind." But, says the Chief Rabbi, something has gone wrong. Somehow, in today's world, many Jews have lost the script of the story, "that breathtaking attempt to build, out of simple acts and ordinary lives, a fragment of heaven on earth." Why, he asks, "at the very moment when we are freer than ever before to be Jews, are so many ceasing to be Jews? What is the shadow over Jewish life today?"

Described, in his own words, as "an open letter to the next generation" and as "my own theology of Judaism, something I have never previously written," this tour de force is an attempt to come to grips with those devastating questions. An intensely personal statement of belief, and an epic "journey of discovery" through the ideas, ideals, mysteries and marvels of Judaism, it is, above all, a realisation that, for the Chief Rabbi as for every Jew, being Jewish means being a letter in the eternal scroll, making one's own contribution to the glorious but unfinished story of faith above fate. --Meir Persoff --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Mentioned in Jewish News.--Sanford Lakoff

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and very incisive 8 Sep 2004
A wonderful read that looks at the different crises which have occurred over four thousand years, to threaten the very existence of the Jewish People.
Originally written for his son and step-daughter as a wedding gift, Rabbi Jonathon Sacks tells 'the legacy of the world's oldest religion' with such passion and wisdom youll find it impossible to put down. Asking specifically 'why be Jewish', 'who am i' and 'why should i remain a Jew', then looking for the answers magnificently though historical discussion.
What makes this book for me, is the obvious great understanding and teaching, in how we can move forward not only as Jewish people, but human society as a whole - I highly recommend this book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificient... 29 Sep 2006
This book portrays Judaism as a fully validated relationship of Love. Whilst the tone is one of objectivity the reader can't avoid delving into his/her own spirituality journeys.

The book is full of enchanted corners and everytime you bump into one its like having light being cast in your heart. Because its beautifully written and because its based a very moving and real story with no foreseable end.

As someone who is not Jewish but wanted to get to grips with Judaism I could not recomend a better start.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Passionate & Moving 2 Mar 2012
By RichJ
I am inclined to agree with the reviewer on amazon.com who describes this book as Rabbi Sacks' Magnum Opus. It is undoubtedly one of the best books I have ever read and every individual I have ever reccomended it to has shared these feelings. It is not only beautifully written, it is so magically crafted that it stirs the full range of human emotion. It is difficult to put down and mildly heartbreaking when it comes to an end. It is a must read for anyone wishing to achieve ownership in the journey of their Jewish identity and it will be attractive to those wishing to understand the Jewish people in a deeper sense.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Clarity and Humanity 25 Aug 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Masterly writing. Clear and unambiguous presenting of concepts that once read, make one think "but I somehow 'knew' this all along, without realising it". This is a book that needs to be read once, then a second time making notes of the concepts for a third reading and studying. The statement that G-d created Man, not as a Jew, but Mankind in its full totality, clarifies misconceptions of any race being superior to any other.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I don't know a better Primer on Jewish Thought 24 Jun 2008
By People of the Book - Published on Amazon.com
In my opinion this is Jonathon Sack's Magnum Opus. In this book he clearly defines what it means to be a Jew and what makes Jews different. An absolute must for anyone who is looking to get into Judaism or would like to tickle their brain with some fundementals in Jewish thought and theology.

A Truly Incredible Book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 2 July 2014
By L. Suransky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Superb general introduction and overview to many angles of the torah and Jewish heritage.
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep insight into today's culture, values and problems 24 May 2011
By John G. Peiser - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Jonathan Sacks creates a panoramic view of today's culture, values and problems in great depth - contrasting the historical and religious depth of Jewish learning, laws and values in amazing ways. His great insight is easy-to-read showing of his penetrating command of the subject matter. This is a MUST read for anyone seeking to understand the past present and future paths our society should contemplate.
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