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Works by
Arthur Magida
(aka Arthur J. Magida)

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Profile created August 7, 2006
  • Our Printed Legacy Is Turning to Dust:  From the smallest historical society to the Library of Congress, old books and documents are deteriorating faster than they can be saved (1981)

  • Prophet of Rage: A Life of Louis Farrakhan and His Nation (1996)
    Promoted as the "first ever biography of Louis Farrakhan",; Arthur Magida traces the life of one of America's most mysterious yet influential leaders. Magida, editorial director of Jewish Lights Publishing, presents a fine portrait of Farrakhan's childhood days in Boston. Born in 1933 as Louis Eugene Walcott, the boy excelled in many areas. A musician and a singer, a track star and excellent student, he attended a school for gifted children and was a camp counselor in the summer. Magida also provides insights into Farrakhan's four decades in the Nation of Islam and chronicles Farrakhan's more recent political skirmishes, including those with Jewish organizations. -- Amazon.com

  • The Rabbi and the Hit Man: A True Tale of Murder, Passion, and Shattered Faith (2003)
    A fascinating true-crime narrative about the first rabbi ever accused of murder and what the case says about the role of clergy in America.

    On the evening of November 1, 1994, Rabbi Fred Neulander returned home to find his wife, Carol, facedown on the living room floor, blood everywhere. He called for help, but it was too late. Two trials and eight years later, the founder of the largest reform synagogue in southern New Jersey became the first rabbi ever convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

    In a gripping examination of the misuses of the pulpit and the self-delusions of power, Arthur J. Magida paints a devastating portrait of a manipulative man who used his position of trust in the temple to attract several mistresses -- and to befriend a lonely recovering alcoholic, whom he convinced to kill his wife "for the good of Israel."

    The Rabbi and the Hit Man straddles the juncture of faith and trust, and confronts issues of sex, narcissism, arrogance, and adultery. It is the definitive account of a charismatic clergyman who paid the ultimate price for ignoring his own words of wisdom: "We live at any moment with our total past ... What we do will stay with us forever."

  • How to Be a Perfect Stranger: A Guide to Etiquette in Other People's Religious Ceremonies (1995, revised 2006) with Stuart M. Matlins, editor
    A straightforward guide to the rituals and celebrations of the major religions and denominations in America from the perspective of an interested guest of any other faith. The first in a two-volume set, the book is based on information obtained from authorities of each religion. It is not a guide to theology, nor is it presented from the perspective of any particular faith. These easy-to-use guidebooks help the well-meaning guest of any other faith to feel at ease, participate to the fullest extent possible, and avoid violating anyone's religious principles or hurting their feelings.

  • Opening the Doors of Wonder: Reflections on Religious Rites of Passage (2006)
    This bold, pioneering book explores rites of passage in America by sifting through the accounts of influential thinkers who experienced them. Arthur J. Magida explains the underlying theologies, evolution, and actual practice of Jewish bar and bat mitzvahs, Christian confirmations, Hindu sacred thread ceremonies, Muslim shahadas and Zen jukai ceremonies. In rare interviews, renowned artists and intellectuals such as Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, holistic guru Deepak Chopra, singer Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), actress/comedienne Julia Sweeney, cartoonist Roz Chast, interfaith maven Huston Smith, and many more talk intimately about their religious backgrounds, the rites of passage they went through, and how these events shaped who they are today.

    Magida compares these coming of age ceremonies' origins and evolution, considers their ultimate meaning and purpose, and gauges how their meaning changes with individuals over time. He also examines innovative rites of passage that are now being "invented" in the United States. Passionate and lyrical, this absorbing book reveals our deep, ultimate need for coming-of-age events, especially in a society as fluid as ours.

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