Friendship in Jewish History, Religion, and Culture

Edited by Lawrence Fine

Hardback - £76.95

Publication date:

07 January 2021

Length of book:

270 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271087948

The ubiquity of friendship in human culture contributes to the fallacy that ideas about friendship have not changed and remained consistent throughout history. It is only when we begin to inquire into the nature and significance of the concept in specific contexts that we discover how complex it truly is. Covering the vast expanse of Jewish tradition, from ancient Israel to the twenty-first century, this collection of essays traces the history of the beliefs, rituals, and social practices surrounding friendship in Jewish life.

Employing diverse methodological approaches, this volume explores the particulars of the many varied forms that friendship has taken in the different regions where Jews have lived, including the ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman world, Europe, and the United Sates. The four sections—friendship between men, friendship between women, challenges to friendship, and friendships that cross boundaries, especially between Jews and Christians, or men and women—represent and exemplify universal themes and questions about human interrelationships. This pathbreaking and timely study will inspire further research and provide the groundwork for future explorations of the topic.

In addition to the editor, the contributors are Martha Ackelsberg, Michela Andreatta, Joseph Davis, Glenn Dynner, Eitan P. Fishbane, Susannah Heschel, Daniel Jütte, Eyal Levinson, Saul M. Olyan, George Savran, and Hava Tirosh-Samuelson.

“This innovative and accessible anthology highlights the significance of a frequently neglected facet of Jewish life. I know of no other scholarly work that explores the varieties of human friendship in such a wide range of Jewish sources. The attention to gender is particularly noteworthy and adds immensely to the value and interest of this important volume.”

—Judith R. Baskin, author of Midrashic Women: Formations of the Feminine in Rabbinic Literature