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Is the Sermon on Its Deathbed?

A Response to Rabbi Professor Marc Saperstein

David Goldberg

It is an honour to have been asked to respond to Professor Saperstein’s lecture. He is a ba’al d’rashah, a master of sermonic material, and therefore what he has to say on the subject should always be listened to carefully.

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David J. Goldberg

The Liberal movement that John Rayner joined in the mid-1950s and speedily came to dominate was small, inward-looking, aimlessly treading water and intellectually undistinguished. But my conviction is that whether in its sister movement in the U.S.A., the two million strong Union of American Hebrew Congregations or in the glory days of nineteenth- century German Reform Judaism, John's powerful intellect, wide Jewish knowledge, conviction of principle, clarity of thought and concision of expression would have brought him to the forefront. When the history of Progressive Judaism comes to be written in a hundred years time, his name will be mentioned in the same breath as luminaries like Abraham Geiger, Kaufmann Kohler, Isaac Mayer Wise, Leo Baeck and Solomon Freehof. He was one of the great ones for his and future generations.

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Book Reviews

Jewish Secularism on the March

David J. Goldberg, Stephen Berkowitz, Frank Dabba Smith and Marc Saperstein

The Origins of Jewish Secularization in Eighteenth-Century Europe, Shmuel Feiner, translated by Chaya Naor. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011, 330 pp.

Not in the Heavens: The Tradition of Jewish Secular Thought, David Biale, Princeton University Press, 2011, 228 pp.ISBN 0812242734

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea?: French Jewry and the Problem of Church and State, Zvi Jonathan Kaplan, Providence, RI: Brown University Press, 2009. 148 pp. ISBN 1930675615

Rediscovering Traces of Memory: The Jewish Heritage of Polish Galicia, Jonathan Webber, and Chris Schwarz, Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2009.200 pages ISBN 1906764034

Secret Judaism and the Spanish Inquisition, Michael Alpert, Nottingham: Five Leaves Publications, 2008.ISBN: 1905512295, 262 pages

Child Survivors of the Holocaust in Israel: ‘Finding their Voice’, Sharon Kangisser Cohen, Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2005.

The Scandal of Kabbalah: Leon Modena, Jewish Mysticism, Early Modern Venice, Yaacob Dweck, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011, 280 pp. £?? ISBN 978–0–691–14508–2.

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Jonathan Magonet, Helen Freeman, Albert H. Friedlander, David J. Goldberg, Dow Marmur, Sanford Ragins, Sheila Shulman and Alexandra Wright

A Survey of New Year Sermons

Facing Fundamentalism

Meditation for Friday, September 15

Israel between Ethics and Politics

‘Truly the Times I Live in Are Dark’

We Must Not Give Up

Some Words for Erev Rosh Hashanah

Reflections

After Judgement: Freedom

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Michael Shire, Michael Stannard, David Goldberg, Charles D. Middleburgh, Jeffrey Newman, Sidney Brichto, Danny Rich and Albert H. Friedlander

Hans Sigismund Rahmer (John Desmond Rayner), rabbi: born Berlin 1924; ordained rabbi 1953; Minister, South London Liberal Synagogue 1953–57; Associate Minister, Liberal Jewish Synagogue 1957–61, senior Minister 1961–89 (Minister Emeritus); Lecturer in Liturgy and Rabbinic Literature, Leo Baeck College 1966–2003, Director of Studies 1966–69, Vice-President 1969–2005; Chairman, Council of Reform and Liberal Rabbis 1969–71, 1982–84, 1989–92; President, London Society of Jews and Christians 1990; CBE 1993; Honorary Life President, Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues 1994; married 1955 Jane Heilbronn (two sons, one daughter); died London 19 September 2005.