A new Jewish culture, richly endowed and interdisciplinary, has come into being in the past two centuries, one that is of a mainly modern and secular nature. This is a cultural creation that cannot be limited to a single definition, and its Jewish sources of inspiration, the wealth of non-Jewish culture, and the Israeli experience meet in it on a broad interface.
The four volumes of the New Jewish Time: Jewish Culture in a Secular Age- An Encyclopedic View survey the processes of modernization and secularization that began in Jewish culture in the past two hundred and fifty years, and also include a fresh view, based on new research, of the history and culture of the Jewish people.
New Jewish Time was compiled from a critical academic perspective, and with a pluralistic approach, that assumes that there is not a single secular Jewish identity, but a diverse range of identity components in open combinations that are based on personal freedom, with the tension between them constituting an inexhaustible source of ongoing creativity.
The section editors and entry authors are among the leading scholars and thinkers in their fields in Israel and the world. In addition to the editors, four of whom are Israel Prize laureates, close to 250 authors, both secular and religious, men and women, with different worldviews and background, took part in writing the entries. The encyclopedia's authors constitute a fascinating mosaic of intellectual and scholarly approaches to the fundamental issues that continue to determine the development of Jewish life in the modern era.
New Jewish Time is intended for a diverse readership: students and lecturers, high school teachers and students, professionals whose education is not necessarily in the humanities, and seekers of knowledge and culture everywhere.
New Jewish Time is a work of an encyclopedic nature, that does not have a routine encyclopedic structure. The four volumes of New Jewish Time are divided into sections, each of which opens with one or more introductory articles, and contains entries whose nature is derived from that of the section as a whole. These are not short lexicon entries, and are usually hundreds or thousands of words in length. The goal that guided the editors: a book each of whose sections could be read from beginning to end, and thereby provide a relatively broad and deep picture of the section subject.
The fifth volume contains a detailed name and content Index, that enables the reader to find details of a person, subject, or topic references to which are scattered within different entries, and allows the reader to form a more complete and coherent picture. This volume also includes a few details about the editors and authors who participated in the creation of this comprehensive work, and details on the artists and photographers and holders of the rights to the hundreds of illustrations, some of them rare, that appear in the encyclopedia.
New Jewish Time begins with a general and extensive Introduction. The main body of the work is composed of ten sections: Modern Jewish Thought, edited by Prof. Menahem Brinker; Memory, Myth, and History, edited by Prof. Yirmiyahu Yovel; Changes in Way of Life, edited by Prof. Israel Bartel; National and Social Movements, edited by Prof. Derek Jonathan Penslar; Religious Society Confronted by Secularization and Modernity, edited by Prof. Joseph Dan; Hebrew and the Jews' Languages, edited by Ruvik Rosenthal; Literatures and Arts, edited by Prof. Dan Miron and Prof. Hannan Hever; Jews and Non-Jews in the New Time, edited by Prof. Shulamit Volkov; Modern Jewish Life in the Diaspora, edited by Prof. Morton Weinfeld; The State of Israel as a Modern Jewish Enterprise, edited by Yair Tzaban. Prof. Michel Abitbol served as special advisor to the editorial board.
New Jewish Time, that was published in Hebrew by Keter, is the result of a joint initiative by Yair Tzaban, the director of the project, and Prof. Yirmiyahu Yovel, its Editor in Chief; David Shaham is the General Editor. The project was produced by Lamda - Association for Modern Jewish Culture, in conjunction with the Spinoza Institute in Jerusalem, with funding by the Posen Foundation, and aided by additional donors (the Keshet Foundation; the Culture Administration in the Israeli Ministry of Science, Culture, and Sport; the Payis Council for Culture and Art; and the Rabinovitch Fund for Arts, Tel Aviv).