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Joshua Schwartz

Abstract

Everyone plays and that, of course, includes children. In an ideal world, there would be literary traditions, archaeological remains and artistic renditions, which would enable the reconstruction of toys. Unfortunately, the situation does not exist for ancient Jewish society. For the most part, there are depictions in rabbinic literature and it is those toy traditions which I examine.

The study begins with those toys explicitly connected to halakhic issues, firstly with those traditions in which the toy is essential to the law and afterwards to those in which the toy is tangential to the law. The study then deals with those toys mentioned in a nonlegal rabbinic framework. Finally, I discuss toys that were popular in the Greco-Roman world but not mentioned in rabbinic literature. I seek to determine whether descriptions of toys in rabbinic literature and set within the broader Greco-Roman world are sufficient for visualization.

Tali Berner

Abstract

This article discusses the clothing of Jewish children and adolescents in Western and Central Europe in the early modern period. Looking at egodocuments, sumptuary laws, visual representations, moral books, halakhic literature and apprenticeship contracts, it gives a first overview of children’s dress and involvement in the textile industry. The article explore the forces that shaped children’s garments—parental desires, legal and halakhic constraints and social norms. It pays special attention to the places where children and adolescents desires were manifested, and the ways children’s agency is professed, through choosing their own garments and contributing to the textile industry and changing of fashions.

Shelly Zer-Zion

Abstract

“The Children’s Theatre by the Kindergarten Teachers Center,” that was founded in 1928, was the first Hebrew repertory theatre exclusively addressing the audience of children attending kindergarten and the first grades of elementary school. This article explores how The Children’s Theater conveyed a set of performative practices that consolidated a habitus of Eretz-Israeli childhood. The theater articulated the embodied repertoire of Eretz-Israeli childhood and established it on two pillars. First, it epitomized the concept of an innocent and secure childhood. The world performed on the stage created a utopian notion of childhood. Second, it encouraged the children to participate in the world of adults, but in a way suited to their age and psychological needs. The ability of this theatre to create an enriching and a secure environment for children was deeply needed in the Jewish settlement of Palestine of the 1930’s and 1940’s, which was constituted of immigrants struggling to build a future in the land.

Jonathan Bordo

Abstract

This article pairs Bibliothek, a memorial in Berlin against the Nazi book-burning of May 10, 1933, with the library in Wim Wenders’ film Der Himmel über Berlin (1987) as sites to reflect on loss with the disappearance of material books from the library and the conversion of libraries into information centers in the era of the internet and digital reproduction. It explores loss by taking up arguments of Walter Benjamin concerning artworks and by applying his theory of loss to books that exist, unlike works of art, only because of mass technical reproduction. It then examines how to argue for loss in ontological and even civilizational terms, especially when the rational justification for the massive clearance of books is justified by the short-term utilitarian calculus of benefit and gain that determines that there is no loss at all. By way of conclusion, it offers a sketch of the new library as having heightened responsibilities in the pursuit of truth as a center for documentation akin to an incident room at the scene of a crime. In this regard, the Topography of Terror Documentation Center on Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin on the site of the former Gestapo Headquarters is both a paradigm and a beacon.

Patrick Kofi Amissah

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to draw upon the condemnation of bribery, corruption and miscarriage of justice to be found in the book of Amos for the sake of a public theology. The occasion for such is a bribery scandal that hit the Ghanaian judiciary. An investigative journalist presented evidence to substantiate the hitherto unsubstantiated perception that some judges in Ghana take bribes to skew judgement. The scandal is deepened through many of the judges being Christian. They attracted widespread criticism from religious leaders, both Christian and others, as well as from the wider society. The public sphere of a fair and independent judiciary was thus compromised. The argument draws upon an assessment of Amos 5:7; 10, 12 and 6:12. These texts are examined in the light of this judicial bribery and corruption scandal and thus provide an example of how the Bible can play a part in a public theology and nurture of social justice.

Roshnee Ossewaarde-Lowtoo

Abstract

The works of Reinhold Niebuhr contain invaluable examples of how Christian resources can be fruitfully exploited to address urgent economic and political issues. The ideas of sin and continuous redemption, which arguably belong to the core of the Christian faith, are creatively translated by Niebuhr, so that they can be included in public debates and interdisciplinary dialogues. In this article, his conception of sin as the perversion of the will-to-live into the will-to-power is endorsed. Its counterforce, it is argued, is human love infused with divine love. Love is, therefore, not a simple possibility, which can be applied to our economic and political problems. Instead, it is the impossible possibility, the ultimate and critical perspective from which prevailing forms of justice and philanthropy are judged. Through the public theology of Niebuhr, the ideal of love becomes a universally valid alternative to the rationalist and naturalist approaches to human morality.