Seekers of Meaning 1/26/2024: Re-forming Judaism Book

On this week’s episode of the Seekers of Meaning TV Show and Podcast, Rabbi Stanley M. Davids and Dr. Leah Hochman discuss their new book, Re-forming Judaism: Moments of Disruption in Jewish Thought.

Throughout Jewish history, revolutionary events and subversive ideas have burst forth, repeatedly transforming Jewish experience. Re-forming Judaism seeks to explore these ideas—and the individuals behind them—by delving into historical disruptions that led to lasting change in Jewish thought. A distinguished array of scholars take us on a journey from the disruptive prophets of ancient times, through rational, mystical, and extremist medievalists, to the impact of Haskalah and early Reform thought in modernity. Contemporary innovations such as changes in liturgy and music, feminism, and post-Holocaust theology are included, as are insights into Sephardic and North African experiences. By showing how Judaism forms—then re-forms, and re-forms again—the contributors demonstrate that tensions between continuity and change have always been part of Jewish life, helping us to both understand the past and contemplate the future.

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About the Guests

Rabbi Stanley M. Davids

Rabbi Stanley M. Davids is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Case Western Reserve University and was ordained by Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in 1965. Following his service as a chaplain in the U.S. Army, he served as senior rabbi in congre- gations in Massachusetts, New York, and Georgia before retiring in 2004 as rabbi emeritus of Temple Emanu-El of Atlanta. He was chair of the CCAR Israel Committee, honorary life chair of the Israel Bonds Rabbinic Cabinet, a life member of NFTY, international president of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, and past national president of ARZA, the Association of Reform Zionists of America. Following his aliyah in 2004, he served for many years both as a member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency and as a member of the Executive of the World Zionist Organization. He currently is a member of the Board of Overseers of HUC-JIR’s Los Angeles campus. Resa and Rabbi Davids have three children and eight grandchildren.

Dr. Leah Hochman

Dr. Leah Hochman directs the Louchheim School for Judaic studies at the University of Southern California and serves as associate professor of Jewish Thought at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Los Angeles. She is the author of The Ugliness of Moses Mendelssohn: Aesthetics, Religion and Morality in the Eighteenth Century (Routledge, 2014), the editor of Tastes of Faith: Jewish Eating in the United States (Purdue University Press, 2017), and the co-editor, with Dr. Michael Marmur, of Scriptions: Jewish Thoughts and Responses to Covid-19 (

Raised in the Seattle area, she earned her undergraduate degree at Pitzer College and both her M.A. and Ph.D. in religion and literature from Boston University. She spent significant time in Berlin writing, research and teaching after fellowships at the Moses Mendelssohn Zentrum and the Simon Dubnow Institute. Before joining the HUC-JIR faculty, she held positions at University of Florida and BU.

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