Selected Articles

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“Beneath the Robe:  The Role of Personal Values in Judicial Ethics,” Journal of Law and Religion, 12:2 (1995-96): 507-31.

“Therapy and Enhancement:  Jewish Values on the Power and Purpose of Medicine”, in Noam Zohar, ed., Quality of Life in Jewish Bioethics, (Lanham, Maryland:  Rowman and Littlefield, 2006), 121-30.

“Ethics, Faith and Healing: Jewish Physicians Reflect on Medical Practice”, in David Smith, ed., Religion, Narrative, and Health Care Ethics, (Louisville, Kentucky:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2000), 117-143.

"Balancing Justice and Mercy:  Reflections on Forgiveness in Judaism," Journal of Religious Ethics, 41:3 (2013):  435-56.



Repentance: The Meaning and Practice of Teshuvah

by Dr. Louis E. Newman

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Almost every day, in ways large and small, we hurt others, most often those closest to us, in ways that we regret. These inevitable shortcomings, if not addressed and redressed, bring guilt and shame in their wake, undermine our relationships, and can even erode our selfesteem. We want to undo what we have done, but how? We want to reclaim our integrity, but where do we begin?

Combining personal reflections with profound scholarship, Dr. Louis E. Newman examines the way our society deals with moral failings and illustrates how the Jewish principles of teshuvah--truthfulness, responsibility and humility--are the key to rehabilitation and reconciliation, both divine and human. Addressing our most profound questions about moral development, he explores:

  • How do we overcome our evil impulses?
  • What traits do we most need to cultivate in order to repent?
  • How can we repent to those we have wronged?
  • How can we repent to those who have died or who are no longer reachable?
  • How can teshuvah enable us to make peace with our transgressions while also helping us to develop a stronger sense of responsibility? 

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Past Imperatives: Studies in the History and Theory of Jewish Ethics

by Louis E. Newman
Past Imperatives explores the nature and development of Jewish ethics by analyzing three important sets of issues: the relationship between Jewish law and ethics, the relationship between Jewish ethics and theology, and the problems and prospects for constructing a contemporary Jewish ethic. The penetrating and provocative essays are drawn from a number of fields, including legal theory, literary theory, and theory of religion. These studies illuminate many previously uninvestigated aspects of Jewish biomedical ethics, covenant theology, and textual interpretation in Judaism.

By exploring these issues within the larger context of historical and theoretical work in religious studies, Past Imperatives moves beyond previous work in Jewish ethics, which has largely sought to offer moral guidance from a Jewish perspective. This volume boldly confronts the fact that Judaism encompasses many, sometimes contradictory, ethical perspectives and investigates their theological underpinnings, how they have developed, and how they differ from other moral and/or religious perspectives.

(SUNY Series in Jewish Philosophy)

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Contemporary Jewish Ethics and Morality: A Reader

Elliot N. Dorff (Editor), Louis E. Newman (Editor)

Over the past decade much significant new work has appeared in the field of Jewish ethics. While much of this work has been devoted to issues in applied ethics, a number of important essays have explored central themes within the tradition and clarified the theoretical foundations of Jewish ethics. This important text grew out of the need for a single work which accurately and conveniently reflects these developments within the field.

The first text of its kind in almost two decades, Contemporary Jewish Ethics and Morality presents wide-ranging and carefully organized recent essays on Jewish ethical theory and practice. Serving as an introduction to Jewish ethics, it acquaints the student with the distinctive methodological issues involved and offers a sampling of Jewish positions on contemporary moral problems. The book features work from both traditionalist and liberal contributors, making this the only volume which encompasses the full range of contemporary Jewish ethical perspectives. Writers such as Harold Schulweis, Judith Plaskow, David Novak, David Hartman, and Blu Greenberg discuss law and ethics, natural law, humility, justice, sex and the family, euthanasia, and other vital issues relating to modern Judaism. Many of the readings appear here for the first time, making this important text the most timely sourcebook in its field. Uniquely qualified to reflect the high level and depth of contemporary work in this area of study, Contemporary Jewish Ethics and Morality is an essential contribution to any course dealing with Jewish ethics.

"Not only the first book of Jewish ethics and morality in two decades, it is also a landmark work on the leading edge of Jewish thought. One of the remarkable features of this anthology is the scope of the views it presents....Because it is accessible to a wide audience, lay persons who must face agonizing choices will find this meaningful work an excellent guide to decision-making....This anthology is an absolute necessity for the contemporary Jew who wants to strive to live a thoughtful and meaningful life. It has to be read slowly, savored, and constantly reviewed. It does not belong on the shelves of rabbis, Jewish scholars, ethicists, and ordinary people, but in their hands. It is simply the best in its field. It is post-modern and it will endure." —The Jerusalem Post Magazine

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Introduction to Jewish Ethics

by Louis E. Newman

Introduction to Jewish Ethics offers a concise overview of the Jewish ethical tradition as it has evolved from biblical times to the present. The volume provides a broad conceptual overview of the central beliefs of classical Judaism and the ways in which these frame traditional Jewish approaches to issues in ethics, both theoretical and practical and it familiarizes readers with the distinctive ways in which contemporary Jewish ethics draw upon this rich tradition of religious-ethical reflection as they address key ethical issue of our day. The volume examines religion, ethics and religious ethics, Judaism and Jewish Ethics, sources of Jewish ethics, contours of Jewish moral life, foundations of moral obligation in Judaism and Jewish ethics in modern times. For those interested in religion and ethics. 

"This is a model introduction: accessible, engaging, and bearing the marks of wide learning. Those unfamiliar with Jewish ethics will find that it takes nothing for granted; those already familiar will also gain much from the clear and searching way it addresses an impressive range of subjects. It is a most valuable and welcome work." — Gene Outka, Dwight Professor of Philosophy and Christian Ethics, Yale University

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Contemporary Jewish Theology: A Reader

Elliot N. Dorff (Editor), Louis E. Newman (Editor) 

This book provides the most comprehensive collection to date of twentieth-century Jewish writings. This carefully constructed anthology highlights the enormous range of theological viewpoints and methods that have characterized Jewish theological reflection in modern times. Including representative selections from both pre- and post-World War II thinkers, with emphasis on writings of the last four decades, the volume offers essays on God, creation, revelation, redemption, covenant/chosenness, law, the Holocaust and the modern State of Israel. This is an exceptional one-volume introduction to contemporary Jewish thought.

"What a rich compendium! A stimulating distillation of the best Jewish thought from a century marked by anguish and triumph. We see in these sections how strong the theological etnerprise is in modern Judaism, in every form from Reform to Neo-Orthodoxy. Ideal for serious readers."--Ralph Keen, University of Iowa

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Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices: Body (v. 1)

What is the Jewish position on tattoos, eating disorders and body piercings? According to this book on Judaism and the body, that's actually the wrong question: it's not about claiming the Jewish position on any issue, but finding a Jewish ethic that successfully addresses Torah, tradition and beliefs. This multiauthor book, part of JPS's new series on contemporary ethical dilemmas (future volumes will address money, war, sexual relations, and power, among other issues), presents multiple points of view and personal voices. Tattoos, for example, are weighed against biblical and Talmudic injunctions, historical allusions (are Jewish tattoos offensive to Holocaust victims?) and cultural standards. Some of the best essays are by doctors, including one who ruminates on whether he has an ethical responsibility to prescribe medication that might save his patients from short-term depression. As a book, this collection can feel disjointed; it begins abruptly with three quick case studies and numerous quotes from ancient and contemporary rabbis on various body issues, then segues into contributors' uneven essays on those topics. Though no single answer emerges, the book's general sensibility is, to paraphrase one essayist, to remember that God created our bodies, and we are only renting them. 

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Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices: Money (v. 2)

Is it O.K. to be wealthy? How do we know when we have too much? Enough? Is wealth relative--are those born into wealth entitled to accumulate more money than those born in poorer circumstances? What are we obligated to do with our money? How much are we supposed to give to charity? Can Jewish charitable institutions accept money that may be "tainted"? How big a role should income play in our identity, in our life plan, in our pursuit of happiness? 

"The emphasis on questions, not answers, makes the Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices series different from many other ethical works... an excellent resource for readers seeking to lead more ethical lives." --The Reporter, August 8, 2008

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Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices: Power (v. 3)

How do we use power once we've gained it? Is it completely for our individual benefit, or do we use it to help our neighborhoods, or society at-large? What kinds of decisions must CEOs and business owners make regarding suppliers and customers? How should bosses treat workers? Teachers treat students? Parents treat children? Government treats citizens?

Power dynamics affect people on a political level, a social level, and a deeply personal level as well. The newest volume in the Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices series examines these dynamics and includes essays by such fine contributors as U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, NBC Universal Television-West Coast President Marc Graboff, and author and scholar James

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