Encyclopaedia of Judaism

Get access Subject: Jewish Studies
General Editors: Jacob Neusner, Alan J. Avery-Peck and William Scott Green

The Encyclopaedia of Judaism Online offers more than 200 entries comprising more than 1,000,000 words and is a unique reference tool.  The Encyclopaedia of Judaism Online offers an authoritative, comprehensive, and systematic presentation of the current state of scholarship on fundamental issues of Judaism, both past and present. While heavy emphasis is placed on the classical literature of Judaism and its history, the Encyclopaedia of Judaism Online also includes principal entries on circumcision, genetic engineering, homosexuality, intermarriage in American Judaism, and other acutely contemporary issues. Comprehensive and up-to-date, it reflects the highest standards in scholarship. Covering a tradition of nearly four thousand years, some of the most distinguished scholars in the field describe the way of life, history, art, theology, philosophy, and the practices and beliefs of the Jewish people.

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Phenomenology of Judaism

(12,608 words)

Author(s): Zuesse, Evan
Judaism has had a complex history and exists in many forms. In light of this diversity, some claim that there is no essential Judaism, that the religion is whatever any group of Jews, or individual Jews, say it is. This article, by contrast, argues that there is a normative Judaism, consisting of certain basic structures and values a religion must have for it to be called Judaism. To accomplish our goal, we must explain, first, what we mean by “normative.” “Religion,” too, needs clarification, t…

Piety in Judaism

(5,070 words)

Author(s): Zahavy, Tzvee
Piety fills the life of every Jew and endows it with transcendent meaning. In all forms of Rabbinic Judaism, ancient and modern, piety overshadows faith as the central defining core of the religion. Thus the daily, weekly, and annual routines of the observant Jew as well as the rituals of the life cycle events—each with its own transcendent meanings ascribed within the system of faith—are the concrete signs of the individual's achievement of the standards of piety demanded by Judaism. From Talmu…

Pirqé Abot

(4,389 words)

Author(s): Neusner, Jacob
Tractate Abot, conventionally dated at ca. 250 c.e., 1 forms a melancholy meditation on the human condition of the individual Israelite. Corporate Israel and its historical fate never frame the issue. The problem facing the framer of the document—provoked by the logic of monotheism—is succinctly stated: “We do not have in hand an explanation either for the prosperity of the wicked or for the suffering of the righteous” (4:15). The resolution of the paradox of palpable injustice—the prosperity of the wic…


(12,189 words)

Author(s): Lieber, Laura
Piyyut (pl. piyyutim; related term: “ payyetan,” the composer of piyyutim). A poetic composition created to substitute for, adorn, or preface the Jewish liturgy. The Hebrew term derives from the Greek (ποιητήsfgr;/poietes) (something made, created), related to the English words “poetry.” The term may have been coined to distinguish the works as a new style of poetry, distinct from the biblical psalm ( shir, mizmor) and works in the biblical style. “Piyyut” can refer to any Jewish poetry composed for a religious context. Typically, however, the term is reserved for …