"Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land" The Hebrew Bible in the United States: A Sourcebook
The Zahava and Moshael J. Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University is proud to announce the publishing of Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land: The Hebrew Bible in the United States: A Sourcebook (YU Straus Center/Toby Press). This sourcebook, the first of its kind, assembles foundational documents of American history side by side with the biblical verses that inspired them, and allows the reader to learn how impactful the Hebrew Bible has been on the American idea. The volume was edited by Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik (the Center’s director), Rabbi Dr. Stuart W. Halpern (the Center’s senior program officer), Dr. Matthew Holbreich (a resident scholar at the Center) and Dr. Jonathan Silver (a senior director at the Tikvah Fund). The editors’ selections of source material, including sermons, letters and seminal presidential addresses, demonstrate that the American Republic and the entirety of its history has been accompanied by the music of the Hebrew Bible, serving as a primary source of political and cultural vocabulary in the minds of the Puritan settlers, revolutionaries, African slaves, leaders of the civil rights movement and the broader population.
In the Media
This book are not arguing that America was founded as a Jewish nation. Nor is their subject Jews in America, or the role of Jews in the American Founding. Its proposition is more supple and profound: that at key moments in the national story, Americans have looked to the ancient Israelites to understand themselves, their blessings and their challenges.
-William McGurn, The Wall Street Journal
Proclaim Liberty throughout the Land: The Hebrew Bible in the United States” is a sourcebook spanning more than two centuries of American history, from the arrival of the Pilgrims through Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. Compiled by Meir Soloveichik, Matthew Holbreich, Jonathan Silver, and Stuart Halpern... the book conveys how profoundly the Hebrew Bible shaped the way non-Hebrew America understood itself.
-Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe
Which, again, makes Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land such a treasure. Far from a mere compendium of ancient curiosities, it could—and should—be read as a primer on how Americans think, and have always thought, about community and about government, about justice and about faith and about all other topics that move the hearts of women and men.
-Liel Leibovitz, Tablet
But as this valuable new anthology of American political, legal, and ecclesiastical texts from the first half of American history shows vividly, the influence went even deeper than that. As scholars have long understood, but many Americans have forgotten, Puritans identified themselves with ancient Israel. So much so that it would not be an overstatement to say that the deep structure provided by the great stories of the Jewish people became the template according to which they sought and found the meaning of their own history and lives.
-Wilfred M. McClay, The Jewish Review of Books
That this sourcebook bears on contemporary political deliberation may seem odd given that the collected texts themselves date primarily from the 17th through the mid-19th century. Yet in highlighting how generations of prominent American historical figures placed the bible front and center when they spoke and wrote, this anthology invariably asks the reader to evaluate the role of Jewish text and values within the context of political debate and deliberation.
-Michael Helfand, The Forward
While this book will no doubt be of particular interest to American history buffs, it need not be limited to them. Consider my... list giving examples of some whose works are examined in Proclaim Liberty…: John Witherspoon, Cotton Mather, Frederick Douglass, Brigham Young and Julia Howe. Those who don’t know who those people are might say, “This book is not intended for me.” Quite the opposite! This is our American cultural history and it behooves us all to be familiar with such people. If we’re not already, then what better way to become familiar than through a work that places their vision within a framework we already understand?
-Rabbi Jack Abramowitz, Orthodox Union
In chapter after chapter, the authors do a splendid job of showing how American history and culture is so intertwined with the Hebrew Bible... “Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land” provides the reader with a unique view into American history and makes for a fascinating read.
-Ben Rothke, The Jewish Link
Despite our pledge that there is “liberty and justice for all,” we know this is not so, making Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land a much needed and marvelous resource, reminding us that at their foundations, all religions dictate moral principles by which to live.
-Fred Reiss, San Diego Jewish World
In compiling their sourcebook, Messrs. Soloveichik, Holbreich, Silver, and Halpern seek to correct the historical record, which is precisely why their book is currently number one on Amazon’s Jewish history list. They recognized that the tradition created by the founders of this nation continue to unite its people, and, as such, the Hebrew Bible must remain part of the framework in which Americans discuss and debate the meaning of freedom and equality, concepts that determine the United States’ national destiny and place in world history.
-Alex Grobman, The Jewish Voice and Opinion
Read about the book launch in Israel in The Jerusalem Post.