The Essential Agus: The Writings of Jacob B. Agus
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The Essential Agus : The Writings of Jacob B. Agus the Writings of Jacob B. Agus
Published: 12th June The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, first published in Russia around , claimed to be the captured secret protocols from the first Zionist Congress in Basel in describing a plan by the Jewish people to achieve global Published: 12th December Katz NYU Press. The theological problems facing those trying to respond to the Holocaust remain monumental.
Both Jewish and Christian post-Auschwitz religious thought must grapple with profound questions, from how God allowed it to happen to Published: 1st May Dating from the sixteenth century, there were hundreds of shtetls—Jewish settlements—in Eastern Europe that were home to a large and compact population that differed from their gentile, mostly peasant neighbors in religion, Published: 24th December Agus Edited by Steven T. American Rabbi provides a comprehensive and insightful assessment of Rabbi Jacob Agus' standing as a notable Jewish thinker.
The volume brings together original writings by a range of distinguished contributors to consider the Published: 1st March Agus By Steven T. Rabbi Jacob Agus' intellectual production spanned nearly a half century and covered an enormous historical and conceptual range, from the biblical to the modern era. One year later he left Norfolk for Harvard University , where he enrolled in the graduate program in philosophy.
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At Harvard, his two main teachers were Professor Harry A. Wolfson and Professor Ernest Hocking. Agus' doctoral dissertation was published in under the title Modern Philosophies of Judaism. While in the Boston area, Agus paid his way by taking on a rabbinical position in Cambridge and he continued his rabbinical learning with R. At Harvard, for the first time in his life, Agus encountered serious, even intense, criticism of traditional Judaism.
In response, he decided to devote much of his energy for the rest of his life to explicating, disseminating, and defending the ethical and humanistic values embodied in the Jewish tradition, and in particular, how these values were interpreted by its intellectual and philosophical elites.
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After receiving his doctorate from Harvard, Agus accepted the post of rabbi at the Agudas Achim Congregation in Chicago. Though the congregation permitted mixed seating, it was still considered an Orthodox synagogue. In this freer midwestern environment, removed from the yeshivah world of his student days, the orthodoxy of Yeshiva University, and the intensity of Jewish Boston, Agus began to have doubts about the intellectual claims and dogmatic premises of Orthodox Judaism.
In particular, he began to redefine the meaning of halakhah and its relationship to reason and independent ethical norms. In , disenchanted with his Chicago pulpit, Agus accepted a call to Dayton, Ohio.
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During this period he also attempted to gather support for an agenda of change and halakhic reform at the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America rca convention in and When this failed he decided to break decisively with the organized Orthodox community and its institutions. He officially broke with the rca in —47 and joined instead the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly. In this new context he became a powerful presence and an agent of change, serving on the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards for nearly 40 years, until his death.
In , R.
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Agus accepted the position of rabbi at the newly formed Conservative congregation Beth El in Baltimore. A small congregation of some 50 families when he arrived, it grew over his three decades as its rabbi into a major congregation.
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During this period Agus also continued his scholarly work. He was a regular contributor to a variety of Jewish periodicals, such as the Menorah Journal, Judaism, Midstream , and The Reconstructionist , and he served on several of their editorial boards.