The Necessity of Exile

By Shaul Magid

Cover design by David Benarroch

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What is exile? What is diaspora? What is Zionism? The present state of Jewish identity has been shaped by prior generations’ answers to these questions, and the future of Jewish life will depend on how we respond to them in our time. In The Necessity of Exile: Essays from a Distance, celebrated rabbi and scholar Shaul Magid offers an essential contribution to this intergenerational collective process, and an invitation to pick up and investigate the historical pieces that shape our political moment. 

On many levels, Zionism was conceived as an attempt to “end the exile” of the Jewish people, both politically and theologically. In a series of incisive essays, Magid examines the price of trying to diminish or even erase the exilic nature of Jewish tradition. A thought-provoking work of political imagination, The Necessity of Exile seeks to rethink exile as a positive stance for constructive Jewish engagement with Israel|Palestine, antisemitism, diaspora, and a broken world in need of repair.

About the Author

Shaul Magid is Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, Kogod Senior Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of World Religions (CSWR) at Harvard University, and rabbi of the Fire Island Synagogue. He works on Jewish thought and culture from the sixteenth century to the present, focusing on the Jewish mystical and philosophical tradition. His three latest books are The Bible, the Talmud, and the New Testament: Elijah Zvi Soloveitchik’s Commentary to the Gospels (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019); Piety and Rebellion: Essays in Hasidism (Academic Studies Press, 2019); and Meir Kahane: The Public Life and Political Thought of an American Jewish Radical (Princeton University Press, 2021). He writes regularly for Religion Dispatches+972 Magazine, and other topical journals. He is an elected member of the American Academy for Jewish Research and the American Society for the Study of Religion.