From the Association of Jewish Libraries Review:

AJL Reviews September/October 2013

Harris, Maurice D. Moses: A Stranger Among us. Eugene, OR: Cascade books, 2012. xxv, 137 pp. 

(9781610974073). Also available as an eBook.

To order a signed copy: www.mosesastranger.weebly.com

The author, a Reconstructionist rabbi, is showing us a Moses who is an outsider-insider. While born of Jewish slaves, he is reared by an Egyptian princess in royal opulence. His status as an outsider gives him a unique perspective and enables him to become an outstanding leader to guide a slave people to freedom. But through Harris’s skilled analysis, Moses becomes much more. His multi-faceted personality and the many angles from which he can be viewed are ably described in this book. Of particular interest is Harris’s interpretation of the meaning of Moses’ punishment at the end of his life and the way he deals with the “texts of cruelty” in the Torah. He urges the reader to use his own judgment to discern when such a passage is clearly not the voice of a compassionate God. The fact that Moses married a Midianite leads Harris to an excursus on the positive aspects of intermarriage. It is also noteworthy how Moses is later cast as “Moses” in quotation marks: the sum total of the manifold ways in which he can be and has been seen throughout history and by scholars and rabbis t through the ages.

This is a depiction of Moses that does not fear to tread on dangerous ground, departing from a literal image and revealing a man who is flawed and yet whose flaws contribute to his greatness and his unique suitability for the role for which he was chosen. Though the book is written in a simple style, the complex character of its hero is subtly drawn. After finishing this book, the reader is likely never to see Moses in the same way again. 

Highly recommended.

Susanne M. Batzdorff, Librarian, retired,
Celia Gurevitch Jewish Community Library of Congregation Beth Ami, Santa Rosa, CA.



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