Jews and Words

By Amos Oz; Fania Oz-Salzberger
(Yale University Press, Hardcover, 9780300156478, 248pp.)

Publication Date: November 2012

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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A celebrated novelist and an acclaimed historian of ideas, father and daughter, unravel the chain of words at the core of Jewish life, history, and culture

About the Author

Amos Oz is the internationally renowned author of more than twenty works of fiction and numerous essays on politics, literature, and peace. He is also professor of literature at Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva. Fania Oz-Salzberger is a writer and history professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Haifa. She recently held the Leon Liberman Chair in Modern Israel Studies at Monash University, and a Visiting Laurance S. Rockefeller Professorship for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University. 

Saturday, Dec 1, 2012

"Ours is not a bloodline, but a text line," say father-daughter author team Amos Oz and Fania Oz-Salzberger. Their new book, Jews And Words, explores the significance of text in the Jewish tradition. "For thousands of years, we Jews had nothing but books," Oz says. "They became part of the family life." More at

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Praise For Jews and Words

"Ingenious and thrilling, Jews and Words manages to cram more than 5,000 years of prayers, songs, stories, arguments, praises, curses and jokes into the suitcase of a thin, page-turning work of . . . what? History? Anthropology? Literary criticism? Theology? All of these and more. It's a wonderful book."—Jonathan Safran Foer
-Jonathan Safran Foer

“Thrilling and entertaining, Jews and Words challenges clichés and stereotypes at every page. Its tone is half serious and half humorous, mixing a mastery of its subject with an informal touch. It promises to be very controversial and widely read.”—Mario Vargas Llosa

-Mario Vargas Llosa

 “Absolument passionnant.”—Bernard-Henri Lévy

-Bernard-Henri L�vy

Jews and Words is a wonderful, a great essay. It will resonate not only in the ears of Jews, but also in the mind of any secular intellectual who retains a certain sensitivity for the wealth of words in our book-religions. The line ‘Ours is not a bloodline but a textline’ is a drum beat for those who hear the special connotations, and for everyone who embraces the eighteenth-century Enlightenment without forgetting those religious motifs that deserve translation without annihilation.”—Jürgen Habermas

-J�rgen Habermas

"A provocative mixture of scholarship, sly observation and wry writing that often glistens."—Kirkus Reviews

Jews and Words is a conversation between two people who love each other, informed by a wonderful sense of humor and a passionate yet measured analysis of language, people, and literature. Honesty shines through every paragraph of this terrific work.”—Yehuda Bauer
-Yehuda Bauer

"Playfully instructive...Will appeal to lay readers interested in a nonreligious Judaism based on contemporary readings of traditional and more modern Jewish texts."—Publishers Weekly

Praise for Amos Oz’s A Tale of Love and Darkness
“Both in his fiction and his essays, Oz has proven himself one of our essential writers, laying out for our observation, in ever-increasing breadth and profundity, the mad landscape of our time and his place--always enlarging the scope of his questions while avoiding the temptation of dogmatic answers.”—Alberto Manguel, Washington Post Book World

-Alberto Manguel

Praise for Fania Oz-Salzberger’s Israelis in Berlin

“An exciting, deeply moving, masterly book. It combines a wealth of knowledge with great emotional power."—Zeruya Shalev

-Zeruya Shalev

Jews and Words is a wonderful, a great essay…. The line ‘Ours is not a bloodline but a textline’ is a drum beat.”—Jürgen Habermas

-J�rgen Habermas

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