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Synopsis

On August 1, 2012, hundreds of thousands of Talmud students will gather in convention centers, synagogues and schools to celebrate the Siyum ha-Shas, a worldwide commemoration of the study of the entire Talmud. Under an international program called daf-yomi, students from Shanghai to Seattle study a folio, or two pages of Talmud every single day for seven and a half years. The Sea of Talmud: A Brief and Personal Introduction is an essential companion for students of the Talmud, Judaism, and religion in general. If the Siyum ha-Shas is the Jewish equivalent of a full solar eclipse, then The Sea of Talmud is a pair of protective sunglasses, appropriate for viewing this amazing event.

Scholarly yet readable, The Sea of Talmud combines basic, authoritative information on the Talmud with the author’s unique and personal journey to traditional Judaism. Tracing the history of the Talmud from its origins in ancient Israel and Babylon to Internet-based texts, Dr. Abramson describes the excitement and thrill of studying Talmud from an insider’s perspective. The Sea of Talmud alternates between dispassionate, objective discussions of the Talmud as a document in the western religious canon and descriptions of Dr. Abramson’s journey to traditional Judaism, studying Talmud in rabbinical seminaries in Jerusalem and elsewhere.

Henry (Hillel) Abramson holds a PhD in History from the University of Toronto, and has held post-doctoral and visiting appointments at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Harvard, Cornell, and Oxford Universities. He is the author of three books and many scholarly articles on Jewish history and thought, including Reading the Talmud: Developing Independence in Gemara Learning (Feldheim, 2006) and A Prayer for the Government: Ukrainians and Jews in Revolutionary Times, 1917-1920 (Harvard, 1999). His research has been recognized by grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, and he received the “Excellence in the Academy” award from the National Education Association. He currently serves as the Dean of Academic Affairs and Student Services at Touro College South in Miami Beach, Florida.

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