EXODUS AND EMANCIPATION: Biblical and African-American Slavery

EXODUS AND EMANCIPATION: Biblical and African-American Slavery
    Price: $31.00

    EXODUS AND EMANCIPATION: Biblical and African-American Slavery

    by Kenneth Chelst

    Hardcover, 446 pages (includes a dozen pages of b/w photos and an index)
    Urim Publications, 2009 
    ISBN: 978-965-524-020-7

    In Exodus and Emancipation: Biblical and African-American Slavery, Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Chelst presents a new perspective on the saga of the Jewish people's enslavement and departure from Egypt by comparing it with the African-American slave experience in the United States, their emancipation and subsequent fight for dignity and equality. The comparison is designed to enrich the reader's understanding of both experiences. Both peoples suffered centuries-long oppression, with the African-American slave population at the time of emancipation in the 1860s roughly double that of the Israelites at the biblical Exodus.

    Whatever the setting, slavery takes a terrible toll on the individual as well as the community. Chelst dives deeply into the Biblical narrative, using classical and modern commentaries to explore the social, psychological, religious, and philosophical dimensions of the slave experience and mentality. He draws on slave narratives, published letters, eyewitness accounts, recorded interviews of former slaves, together with historical, sociological, economic and political analyses of this era. He explores the five major needs of every long-term victim, and journeys through these five stages with the Israelite and the African-American slaves towards physical and psychological freedom. He weaves the two sets of narratives into a rich multi-dimensional collage of parallel and contrasting experiences.

    The linkage between the slavery of the Israelites and that of the African Americans is not new. Simply recall the powerful black spiritual, "Go Down, Moses." African American spokesmen began to identify publicly with Israelite history towards the end of the eighteenth century. William E. Channing made the equation explicit: "For ages Jews were thought to have forfeited the rights of men as much as the African race at the South, and were insulted, spoiled and slain." As a result, when we study exodus and emancipation side by side, each enriches the other with its perspective of a common national destiny that moves from slavery to freedom.

    "Moses, the human face of the exodus, first arises to interrupt the beating of an Israelite brother. How many others had to stand helpless watching their brothers submit to the power of the taskmaster, and how many children awoke to the sight of their fathers being beaten? Frederick Douglass depicts awakening at dawn to the shrieks of his aunt.-The louder she screamed, the harder he whipped; and where the blood ran fastest, there he whipped longest. He would whip her to make her scream, and whip her to make her hush... Douglass called the whipping of slaves 'the blood-stained gate, the entrance to the hell of slavery'" 
    - Excerpt from Exodus and Emancipation 

    About the Author:
    Kenneth R. Chelst is professor of operations research in the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He received the B.A. degree from Yeshiva University, the M.S. in operations research from New York University and the Ph.D. degree in operations research from M.I.T. He received rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) of Yeshiva University where he studied with Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik and Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein. He is author of Kaddish: The Unanswered Cry and co-author of Does This Line Ever Move: Real-World Applications of Operations Research. Dr. Chelst is an internationally recognized leader in applying operations research to emergency service management and was designated as a 2000 Edelman Prize Laureate for a major project with Ford. Dr. Chelst co-directs Project MINDSET, a multi-million dollar NSF funded project designed to bring real-world contexts to high school mathematics.

    Praise for Exodus and Emancipation
    "...Dr. Chelst, who combines empathy with a statistician's accuracy, illuminates what was similar and what was terribly different in the movement more than three thousand years ago and the movement today of a group from slavery to freedom." 
    - Dr. Rivkah Blau

    "Dr. Kenneth Chelst, a distinguished academic, and a wide-ranging and profound scholar of Jewish thought has produced a compelling and utterly original study comparing the biblical account of the enslaved Israelites with the experience of African-American slavery. Dr. Chelst, it would seem, has read and considered everything of consequence that has been written on both subjects, and Exodus and Emancipation is filled with page after page of stunning and illuminating insights."
    Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of Jewish Literacy and A Code of Jewish Ethics: You Shall be Holy