University of Nebraska Press



Peter S. Temes

Date of this Version



© 2012 by the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska,675247.aspx


Threatened by the love of would-be friends as well as the hatred of long-established enemies, the Jewish people face a number of critical questions about the future. What matters more: the number of Jewish people, or the qualities of the Jewish soul? Does asking, “Is it good for the Jews?” diminish the more profound question, “Is it good?” Should the Torah be seen as the unchanging anchor of faith or as a starting place for continual reinvention? Does Judaism hold within it a universal and inclusive ethic?

These questions take on more and more significance as Jewish neighborhoods continue to fade, as Jewish identity melts in the embrace of intermarriage, and as a new generation of American Jews seeks a universal moral vision in a religion built for a people who once stood apart.

Each of the five photographs in this book frames one of these critical questions, generating a dialogue that is as honest and practical as it is spiritual and philosophical. Drawing on history, literature, and his upbringing in the Jewish communities of Brooklyn, Peter S. Temes seeks a new understanding of what it means to be Jewish and what the future holds for the Jewish people. The five photographs at the center of his search hint at the possibilities of that future—possibilities that are at once hopeful and inspiring but also challenging and troubling.