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1. Radical Judaism: Rethinking God
2. Judaism for Dummies
3. Introduction to Judaism: A Source
4. Essential Judaism: A Complete
5. Living Judaism: The Complete Guide
6. The Complete Idiot's Guide to
7. Basic Judaism (Harvest Book.)
8. Judaism: A Very Short Introduction
9. Nine Questions People Ask About
10. Choosing Judaism
11. Entree to Judaism: A Culinary
12. Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook
13. What I Wish My Christian Friends
14. Embracing Judaism
15. Gateway to Judaism: The What,
16. Judaism and Christianity: the
17. American Judaism: A History
18. Liberal Judaism
19. The Children of Abraham: Judaism,
20. Jesus and Judaism

1. Radical Judaism: Rethinking God and Tradition (The Franz Rosenzweig Lecture Series)
by Arthur Green
Paperback: 208 Pages (2010-03-23)
list price: US$26.00 -- used & new: US$17.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0300152329
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

How do we articulate a religious vision that embraces evolution and human authorship of Scripture?  Drawing on the Jewish mystical traditions of Kabbalah and Hasidism, path-breaking Jewish scholar Arthur Green argues that a neomystical perspective can help us to reframe these realities, so they may yet be viewed as dwelling places of the sacred.  In doing so, he rethinks such concepts as God, the origins and meaning of existence, human nature, and revelation to construct a new Judaism for the twenty-first century.
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Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Recommedation for a book of recommendations
Radical Judaism creatively combines many of the trends in modern
Judaism--with Art Green's unique way of rendering issues and debates
as urgent calls to action--to bring us closer to solving many of the
problems that bother religious and other thoughtful people: how to
reclaim religious passion from its misdirection into divisiveness and
atrophy, how to make our colleagues wake up and take action on the
disasters facing humanity and the rest of the world today, how to
respect our heritage while fully accepting modern knowledge.

If enjoyed the book a lot and know that it represents a summary of
Green's life work so far, but I don't know his other books enough to
say how many steps forward this one takes. Readers should also be
aware that Green is in an exploratory stage of this fusion of ideas.
The book is not a doctrine and perhaps not even a signpost pointing us
in a clear direction; it is an invitation to join him in creating new
forms for the practice of religion and social action based on these

Green's Judaism is radical, yes, but true to its meaning as understood
by most Jews today. For instance, although he explicitly brings its
core message close to the "we are all One with the universe" message
of well-known Eastern religions, he also insists on celebrating the
diversity of life and the unique perspectives each person brings.

The book's ideas are too rich and complex for a summary, and other
reviewers have done a nice job presenting some of them, but I
recommend the book for its main themes as well as its byways and
enjoyable insights, such as why Freud couldn't have access to all the
rich approaches to relationship that Judaism built up over the
centuries and presented it in a narrow Oedipal light.

I'll finish by adding something for non-Jewish reader. Green claims to
aim his book at people outside the Jewish tradition as well as within
it, but I'm afraid his doctrinal and interpretive concerns delve so
deep within specifically Jewish areas that non-Jews will find much of
the book arcane and ultimately uninteresting.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Radical Enough for me
Arthur Green, Radical Judaism: Rethinking God and Tradition, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2010.

Jewish theology has gone through many a metamorphosis over roughly two thousand years since the closing of the biblical canon. It is precisely thanks to this flexibility of the Jewish theological tradition that Judaism has been able to survive many extremely critical periods in its lifespan. In responding to the many dangers Jews have had to face during the three millenia of their existence perhaps none has been as threatening as the one brought about by relatively recent scientific advances such as Darwin's theory of evolution, the insights of modern astro-physics and the Shoah, (the catastrophe also known as the Holocaust). These three have placed a huge question mark over the traditionally accepted existence of the biblical theistic God. While in the end it is true that the existence or non-existence of God cannot be proved, it can be said that, by and large, science and the non-responsiveness/absence of a God-from-beyond have put an end to the plausibility of the existence of the biblical God.
In view of most Jewish theologians' apparent fear that the survival of Judaism without the biblical God is an impossibility, they have, and this has been done a number of times before, set out once again to reinterpret the Bible God in order to enable his continued existence..
Arthur Green's book, in my opinion, is yet another such desperate attempt at rescuing the biblical God from oblivion. Although to me, as a Jewish theologian and Bible scholar, it is perfectly clear that Judaism is well able to survive and to continue making a valuable contribution to world society without the biblical God, it seems that this is not the case for Green. I shall enlarge upon my position a bit later.
It is somewhat amusing how Green repeatedly avows his non-belief in the God as depicted by the biblical writers. He makes it clear that in no way does he accept a fundamentalist reading of scripture. Historical and literary criticism do make sense to him as does also responsibly done archaeology. But a literal reading of the biblical text, what our rabbis call pshat, is not acceptable to him and for that I applaud him.
Yet, the reality of God and God's pertinence for Judaism must by all means be maintained, it seems, and so, to accomplish this, Green turns to Jewish mysticism and more particularly to Kabbalah. Because it is impossible to convey his thinking in detail here, let me just say that God, for Green, is imbedded in human conscience/soul. God resides in every person; we are all intimately God-related and therefore horizontally related to one another. This possession, human God-connected conscience, lies within everyone and is available to be tapped so as to be translated into beneficial action for the world, but not every human being is aware of the great gift that lies within each person`s self. Judaism's task/mission is to make humanity aware of this inherent gift and to challenge everyone to act upon it for the good of creation. Our world is in danger of self-destruction because of our advanced human evolutionary state which provides us with enormous powers for good or for evil. Humanity's suicide at whose brink we stand can be avoided and even reversed once all people realize that they are called to goodness by the God-within-them. It is the immanence of God and our potential awareness of it that calls us to transcend our basic biological existence which we share with all other earthly beings, animate and inanimate. The theology that Green bases himself on is the Talmud's Rabbi Ben Azzai's insistence that the most important biblical teaching is that we, humans, are created in the image of God and second, the challenge contained in God's call to Adam and Eve, (i.e., to humanity): ayekha - "where are you?"
With the exception of Green's repeated reference to Kabbalah in which he grounds his theology, there is nothing new, let alone radical, in his teaching. Much of the same is found in Mordecai Kaplan, Abraham Joshua Heschel, but in both cases, minus Green`s Kabbalah mysticism. Let me, however, make it clear that all these teachers' ultimate theological thrust is wise and well worth listening to.
My final remark is this: the very same valuable thrust toward achieving a fully realized humanity is found in Spinoza's writing. By following Spinoza, one arrives there without the biblical God, as well as without the supra-rational hermetic teachings of Kabbalah. Once we take the wonder of nature in its evolutionary development which encompasses everything and everybody in the universe seriously and realize our connectedness to and total dependence on it, we arrive at the very same mandate for humanity that Green proposes, but this time on the basis of our evolutionary intellect and rationality which nature provides.

4-0 out of 5 stars New Pathways in Judaism
Rabbi Green strikes a good balance in this book between a scholarly and personal exploration of non-dual Judaism.He takes on topics that others would fear to go: God and Being, Evolution and the History of God, the nature of the Torah, and the meaning of Israel, both in the ancient and modern sense.

This is a great deal of ground to cover in 166 pages.But Green is deeply committed to his view of Judaism, and the path it should take in the future.I view this work, and some of his other writings, as a prologue and challenge to create a `new' and more vibrant Judaism.He wants to shift the focus of Judaism away from theism and dualism and toward panentheism and monism.He can't do this alone.He invites readers to do their own work and investigations along this unique path.

4-0 out of 5 stars Perplexity of the Guide with an addendum
I need to first state that the title of this review is not meant to be facetious.In this book,Rabbi Green (not related) admits to his own perplexities as a heterodox Jew in the post-modern world.

I do have to make one admission before I continue.I studied with Rabbi Green at the University of Pennsylvania in 1974-1975 school year.I did well in his class and remember that he was and most likely still is a powerful teacher.

To write a review about this book is extremely hard.Rabbi Green is a scholar par excellence in his field.This book has many gems to be mined.One can see the depth of his learning in the area of Jewish mysticism and Judaism in general.

It is difficult to write a review about his theology for what one is really saying is that "I would have written it differently".

With that caveat, I truly begin. Rabbi Green is both politically and religiously progressive.Based on the book, I do not know which drives which.

Rabbi Green seeks to create a new horizon for Judaism in the 21st century.The problem he faces I believe is that he admits that he is a mystical-panentheist, using personal metaphors. Such a horizon can not bind.

He believes in an imperfect God, one who is evolving.His God appears to be rooted in our "evolving" consciousness.In this regard, it seems to me that God is subjective.Yet, on the other hand, he believes that God permeates all of creation.To draw from another myth, his struggle with God reminds me more of Odysseus wrestling with the shape shifter Proteus.

His chapter on Torah was the most satisfying.Both a beginner and those advanced in the study of Torah can learn from Rabbi Green's sensitivity with the text.I agree with him that Spinoza does a disservice to Torah by treating it like any other book.I would recommend Leo Strauss' book on Spinoza as another means to untie the knot.(For those who have a certain prejudice against Leo Strauss, I note that he began his career as a Jewish scholar.He was a friend of Gershom Scholem and well respected by Walter Benjamin.The late Saul Lieberman supposedly made a similar remark about Leo Strauss as he made against Gershom Scholem about their respective studies.)As a counterpoint to Rabbi Green, I would recommend the Jewish writings of Leo Strauss presently being edited by Kenneth Hart Green.Leo Strauss offers another approach to interpreting the Bible which may offer another way for someone Jewish to understand their Tradition.

I am not convinced about Rabbi Green's understanding of evolution.It is somewhat simplistic.It appears that he wants to overlap modern science with religion.To me, science and religion are inexorably in conflict.Science by definition is atheistic.By definition, they can not prove miracles.

Again, for those who are following Rabbi Green's path, I would also suggest that they read Hans Jonas' writing post Gnosticism.He offers an alternative myth about God and his self-limitation and our responsibility in the world.He has also written about saving the planet which is the basis of the Green movement in Germany and the environmental movement in Japan.His writings have not caught on in the United States and should become a part of Jewish renewal.

I would have liked Rabbi Green to address the issue of sacred limits.

Among the many controversies in this book, his chapter on Israel may gather the most attention.I think his treatment concerning the State of Israel is basically misguided.As an aside, I thought the Prayer for Israel does not speak tomessianic pretensions since I had always thought that it was written by Agnon.

Even if you disagree with Rabbi Green, you must admire his honesty.It takes great courage to show one's beliefs so nakedly.The book should be read.But, I imagine that it will be only discussed in the rarefied air.For those who seek the continuation of Judaism, the question really is, "Will it play in Peoria?"I am afraid that it will never find its way there.

Last, but not least, I think the word Seeker does a disservice to Rabbi Green's life quest.Though it is not original to me, I believe that he is a spiritual explorer.We should be so fortunate to be like Rabbi Green to explore the heights as well as the depths of the spiritual map.

My true review is a 3 plus/ 4 minus.

An addendum:I would also recommend the writings of Lev Shestov, who through his philosophic studies, tries to burst through the idea of God to God.He is heavy on Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Pascal, Nietzsche, etc.He wrote also on Husserl. ... Read more

2. Judaism for Dummies
by Ted Falcon, David Blatner
Paperback: 432 Pages (2001-04-10)
list price: US$21.99 -- used & new: US$9.59
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0764552996
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Judaism isn’t a race or even a particular culture or ethnic group. There are about 13 or 14 million Jews spread around the world, including about 6 million in the United States and about 5 million in Israel – so Judaism clearly isn’t “a nation.” So what does it mean to be Jewish? Here are the basics:

  • Being Jewish (being “a Jew”) means you’re a Member of the Tribe (an M-O-T). The tribe started with a couple named Abraham and Sarah about 4,000 years ago, it grew over time, and it’s still here today. You can become part of the Jewish tribe in two ways: By being born to a Jewish mother or joining through a series of rituals (called converting).
  • Judaism is a set of beliefs, practices, and ethics based on the Torah. You can practice Judaism and not be Jewish, and you can be a Jew and not practice Judaism.

    Whether you're interested in the religion or the spirituality, the culture or the ethnic traditions, Judaism For Dummies explores the full spectrum of Judaism, dipping into the mystical, meditative, and spiritual depth of the faith and the practice. In this warm and welcoming book, you'll find coverage of

  • Orthodox Jews and breakaway denominations
  • Judaism as a daily practice
  • The food and fabric of Judaism
  • Jewish wedding ceremonies
  • Celebrations and holy days
  • 4,000 years of pain, sadness, triumph, and joy
  • Great Jewish thinkers and historical celebrities

    Jews have long spread out to the corners of the world, so there are significant Jewish communities on many continents. Judaism For Dummies offers a glimpse into the rituals, ideas, and terms that are woven into the history and everyday lives of Jewish people as near as our own neighborhoods and as far-reaching as across the world.Amazon.com Review
    Like the many other Dummies books, Judaism for Dummiesorganizes a wealth of material into an easy-reading format with awarm, accessible voice. Readers can expect to find translations of commonYiddish words, the difference between Orthodox and otherdenominations, the meaning and rituals of high holidays, the originsof the Jewish people, and a stirring passage about the Holocaust.

    The authors make this book especially engaging by deftly tacklingthose "I've always wondered..." kinds of questions about Judaism. Forinstance, what are the guidelines for kosher food? What's the Jewishversion of sin? Was Marilyn Monroe really Jewish? (Yes, sheconverted.) And what exactly do Jews believe about God? The authorsanswer this last question with characteristic reverence and humor:"Some Jews see God as an external force, a Being outside of theuniverse.... Some Jews say that God contains the Universe.... OtherJews say that God is the universe.... The one thing that Jews won'targue about, period, is that God--whatever you imagine God to be--isultimately unknowable and therefore un-nameable." They also note thatJews argue with God in order to know God better. They're called"Children of Israel" because of the biblical story in which Jacobwrestles with an angel and gets his name changed to Israel, meaning"one who wrestles with God."

    The authors' lively voices give this stylistically formatted book aunique personality. Sometimes they sound as though they're tellingjokes at a dinner party: "Have you heard the one about the two rabbisarguing over the Torah?" and "Yom Kippur means always having to sayyou're sorry." Other times they sound like fireside elders sharing theold stories of an ancient faith. This is an excellent book for someonepreparing to become a bar or bat mitzvah. It could also be helpful forgentiles marrying into Jewish families, or any adult who is planningon converting. --Gail Hudson ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (21)

    2-0 out of 5 stars Secular Approach to Faith
    Other Dummies books on various religions are more informative than this one. The Big Book of Jewish Humor honestly provides a secular, comprehensive, and entertaining look at Jewish faith & culture. The initial focus is Jewish-ness, not the faith; people may not expect this approach. As of September 2010, this ancient belief system, a bedrock of other faiths, entered year 5771. As Lewis Browne wrote, there is wonder in this story, "What have they lived through and learnt, in all that long trek through time and space?" Rabbi Browne provides a rich historical perspective, wise & sarcastic, in his 1929 classic (sadly out of print, obtain a used copy) called Stranger Than Fiction: A Short History of the Jews from Earliest Times to the Present Day.

    Rather than begin with the basic tenants of Jewish faith, the authors of this Dummies book begin with identity politics. They thought all Jews looked alike until they went to Israel, and gosh, there were blond Jews! From the opening on, there is misinformation. Judaism is NOT pronounced Judah-ism as they claim. Anyone would sound completely foolish using their suggestion, second only to calling modern Jews "Hebrews." Devout Jews of all denominations call the faith Judy-ism. So relax, you're not wrong! This is a recent (American) invention: preposterous, pretentious, and pseudo-intellectual. In English, Judaism is pronounced Judy-ism! Period the end. For more on pronunciations, etc., try: Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All of Its Moods, and Just Say Nu: Yiddish for Every Occasion (When English Just Won't Do). For fiction, these are superb: To the Land of Cattails (Appelfeld, Aharon), and Amos Oz's Touch the Water, Touch the Wind.

    We are informed that Jews aren't a race (true!), but they are a Tribe; what a contradiction. This is the loamy turf of profitable stereotypes, invested in secular identity politics, and worse, it's dangerous. The authors posit that Jews are Tribal Members, even if they don't practice the faith whatsoever and are totally disconnected from Jewish heritage and culture. The Third Reich defined Jews this way too. While ethnic identity is real, truth starts dwindling the further away any culture drifts from its covenant of core beliefs and shared history. For any group, this kind of self-conscious and narcissistic separateness devolves into silliness. Which part is Jewish, the second, or the third? It's like the legions of wanna-be cowboys & part-Cherokees in the 70s, adorned with little leather fringed vests, seeing a puff of smoke: I Wanna Be a Cowboy.

    Aside from the issue of mispronunciation, the definition of Judaism in the first chapter is secular. The chapters on the history of anti-Semitism are important and could have been used to elaborate the badly made point about tribalism. Jews do not just share a religion, but a culture and history that bonds people together. (Fascinating that England kicked out all Jews in 1290 and didn't allow their return until 1730. No wonder the Anglican Church too often veers into anti-Semitic territory.) Further on, even the Jewish gift to other faiths, the Ten Commandments, are portrayed slackly: the citations from Exodus (20:1-17) and Deuteronomy (5:6-21) are not mentioned (at least "Catholicism for Dummies" does this), and the full principals are not listed out but are followed by "..." for example: 10. "You shall not covet..."How lame. Honest enquirers (Christian, Jewish, or otherwise) need to know that while there basic info is provided, this book isn't a great source. While it's better than nothing, this overview promulgates an assimilated, secularized version of Judaism. The medieval superstition of Kabbala, to follow Her Vocal Majesty Madonna to the Holy Land, is here, as is chanting "mantras" and adding gender to God. SHE is ok: there is no understanding of the self-consciousness of this act. There are better sources for information on Jewish faith, culture, and history. Even James Carroll's Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews - A History is more educational. Also try the fascinating Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Judaism for Dummies
    Non-threatening book introducing you to basics.If you're trying to comprehend and maintain introductory knowledge of Judaism, this is a nice start.

    4-0 out of 5 stars great beginner book
    This book covers the very basic concepts of Judaism. For the beginners that want to learn about this very exciting area of study, or for the people who want a base into learning Juaism. I found this book very helpful!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great, interesting read!
    I am Jewish, and I bought this for my fiance who is not Jewish.It explains in a non-judgemental way all of the different kind of sects of Judaism in the modern world and what they believe and practice.It explains age-old traditions, who still practices them, and why, from clothing to dietary laws to humor.A great read for someone who has Jewish friends or family and wants a little more insight.

    4-0 out of 5 stars The perfect introduction
    Before reading this book I had very little knowledge of Judaism. It taught me so many basic so incredibly quickly, and helped me identify those subjects I wished to research further.

    I particularly like the transliterations from Hebrew, which actually served as the starting point for being able to say many of the blessings in Hebrew before I actually set about beginning to learn and understand Hebrew properly.

    It's a must read for anyone interested in or new to Judaism. It covers a huge amount of material very competently and in a way that is easily understood. ... Read more

  • 3. Introduction to Judaism: A Source Book
    by Lydia Kukoff
    Paperback: 442 Pages (1999-04-01)
    list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$12.12
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 080740649X
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    Product Description
    Since 1983, this book has been the standard teaching tool for beginning "Introduction to Judaism" classes in Reform synagogues and institutions throughout North America. This revised edition has been updated and expanded to include new material in each chapter. New articles, essays, liturgical writings, and text sources reflect recent developments in the political situation in Israel, the creation of alternative liturgies and life-cycle celebrations, and the Reform movement's growing emphasis on sacred texts and spirituality. ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Introduction to Judaism
    This is an excellent resource for those wishing to learn more about Reform Judaism. This book, however does not represent other forms of Judaism.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A great intro...
    This book was the "textbook" and general reference in my Introduction to Judaism class. It is a fast and easy read. It's a book that I go back to again and again when I have questions.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Intro to Judaism: A Source Book
    This book is full of pearls of wisdom, as well as information that clears up lots of misunderstandings.My husband and I took the Intro class as well with Rabbi Einstein, and of the various texts we studied, this one was a great information source not only for the class, but after whenever questions arise around the various traditions/holidays.

    A true primer for those who want to tune-up their knowledge from childhood, as well as a great introduction to those of use who are new to Judaism.I love it! ... Read more

    4. Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs & Rituals
    by George Robinson
    Paperback: 672 Pages (2001-08-28)
    list price: US$21.99 -- used & new: US$11.37
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0671034812
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Product Description

    What happens at a synagogue service? What are the rules for keeping kosher? How do I light the Hanukah candles? What is in the Hebrew Bible? What do the Jewish holidays signify? What should I be teaching my children about being Jewish?

    A landmark reference, here is an indispensable one-volume guide to the religious traditions, everyday practices, philosophical beliefs, and historical foundations of Judaism -- everything you need to know about being Jewish. In Essential Judaism, George Robinson has created the accessible compendium that he sought when he rediscovered his Jewish roots as an adult. Robinson illuminates the Jewish life cycle at every stage, and lays out many fascinating aspects of Judaism -- the Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, the evolution of Hasidism, and much more -- while keeping a firm focus on the different paths to living a good Jewish life in today's world.Amazon.com Review
    Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs and Rituals is a brief but comprehensive layman's handbook to Jewish prayer, worship, festivals, customs, history, language, philosophy, and ideology. Its author, George Robinson, returned to synagogue after a 20-year absence and found himself utterly confused about the basics of his religion, despite having attended Hebrew school. He looked far and wide for a reference work that would help him get his bearings but did not find one; so he wrote one himself. Robinson's background as a journalist proved to be an asset in this project, which shows evidence of much detective work, the results of which are plainly described and clearly organized. Robinson is sensitive to the many perspectives of contemporary Judaism without being mealy-mouthed. His work is a triumph of diplomacy and clear thinking; his overview of Hebrew Scripture, and his excellent Kosher primer, would be worth the price of this book in themselves. ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (20)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great reference
    I am converting to Judaism, this book has served and will continue to serve as a wonderful "go to" reference.It really is quite comprehensive.At 650 pages, this is not a book I would read cover to cover at one time.I turn to it when I have question and read it in chunks.It's the best overall guide to Judaism I've found.It's a great book for a Jew, convert, or anyone who wants to learna lot about Judaism.

    Another book I'd recommend is What Is A Jew by Kertzer.It's a much shorter book but answers lots of questions.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I highly recommend!
    I read this book for an introductory course on Judaism at the university I attend and, I must say, it was extremely informative.

    Robinson presents the information clearly and concisely. Several topics are covered including festivals, rituals, prayers, important texts, the differing branches of the faith (from Reconstructionist to Hasidism), and much more!

    I am glad that this book was used for my Judaism class; it was a great textbook last semester and I am sure it will continue to a helpful book in the future. If you have a desire to learn more about Judaism in general, I would suggest starting here!

    4-0 out of 5 stars REFORMED Judaism Book.
    NOTICE TO BUYER: This is written by a REFORMED Jew, not an Orthodox, as I thought it was. Hence, there will be some difference between what this guy believes and what Orthodox Jews believe. It is a good book, written well. I am a Christian trying to get a better understanding of the Jewish religion and culture, and I thought this was a Jewish Orthodox book. I should have done more research. I am not going to give it a bad rating though based on that. If you want a great book written from a Reformed Jews perspective, then this is a good one for you. If not, then search for another one.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Purchased for a Friend
    Judaism is Judaism, we don't change anything, our belief's are firm and sacred.I wanted to share some basic information with a friend, thank you.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Easy to Follow Guide
    I'm dating someone who is Jewish and bought this book to understand more about his faith. I found it very useful for understanding the holidays, basic beliefs, and traditions but become slightly confused when it was discussing some of the religious texts (besides the Torah). Overall I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in learning more about Judaism. ... Read more

    5. Living Judaism: The Complete Guide to Jewish Belief, Tradition, and Practice
    by Wayne D. Dosick
    Paperback: 400 Pages (1998-07-01)
    list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$6.01
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060621796
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Product Description
    Why is the Torah central to the Jewish faith? How did the Talmud originate? What do Jewish holidays celebrate? What goes on a synagogue worship service? How to kosher dietary laws work? Why is the land of Israel so important for Jews?These are just a few of the questions Rabbi Wayne Dosick answers in this masterly overview of Jewish faith and tradition, now available in a handsome paperback edition. Writing in short, accessible chapers that cover Jewish beliefs, people, literature, holidays, worship, and living, he captures the essence of Judaism, honoring and explicating the diversity of Jewish thought and observance, from Reform and Conservation to Orthodox.With a timeline of Jewish history and thought-provoking essys on the Jewish idea of God, good and evil, the messiah, believing in the Bible, prayer, right and wrong, the Holocaust, and Israel, Living Judaism is the definitive introduction to one of the world’s great religions. ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (18)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great Overview, Showing Orthodox and Liberal Views
    Rabbi Dosick has compiled a wonderful introduction to Judaism that provides a clear window for the outsider to peer into this historic, sometimes puzzling, world that is Judaism.Broken down into logical categories, the book is also indexed, so it can be used as an easy reference.Topics include descriptions of the various Jewish sects, Jewish holidays, the Holocaust, Jewish views of non-Jews, life after death, and discussions about all the major Jewish rituals.As three of the world's major religions trace their beginnings back to Abraham, this book should prove a help to most who are unfamiliar with their ties to Judaism.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Living Judaism review
    In really good conditions.
    The outer cover was a bit dirty but I could easily clean it.
    Totally worth it.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Fresh air
    In a day and age when all seems dim and confusing, this book sets out a clear path back to solid ground and fresh insight.

    4-0 out of 5 stars "complete" may be an understatement
    I'm studying to convert to Judaism and this is the book recommended by my Rabbi. I've read several other books, but the title says it all. "Complete" is an apt description. This is a comprehensive guide. Some of the previous titles that I've read are more in the self-help vein and are quick, easy reads.

    This a more scholarly study and took me several weeks to read, comprehend and digest. I usually zip through a book in a couple days, but this book has much to think about.

    I recommend it highly for the serious student of Judaism and for those interested in a more detailed or comprehensive book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Living Judasim
    I love this book. If you want to learn more about Judaism I highly recommend it. I am a convert to Judaism and it also helped my family understand more my choice of converting. ... Read more

    6. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Judaism, 2nd Edition
    by Rabbi Benjamin Blech
    Paperback: 464 Pages (2003-09-02)
    list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$8.55
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 159257131X
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Product Description
    One of the Guides' most popular religion titles, Understanding Judaism covers:

    € The major denominations of Judaism and how modern times have changed them
    € A history, from ancient times to current events
    € Threats to the religion; Israel and anti-Zionism; anti-Semitism
    € New concerns for the 21st century, and much more.

    Understanding Judaism, its roots, its beliefs, and its traditions is crucial to understanding its people and its leaders. And, in light of current world events, this understanding is more important now than ever before ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (26)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Delightful Introduction to Judaism
    Rabbi Blech has written a wonderful book.It is concise, touches on everything a convert like me would want to know about.For instance, i didn't know what made up the Talmud, or Kaballah.The talmud is considered oral torah, given by Moses, and Kaballah is mysticism in general, not one volume.I was happy to see he agreed with what I believe, as i was raised protestant, but always prayed to G-D alone, and felt jewish.I AM Jewish, just haven't learned all I need or officially converted yet.

    Rabbi Blech uses great wit and anecdotes throughout with his "schmoozing" notes and "Let there be light" notes and boxes throughout.I have 6 years of college and university and this would serve as an excellent text for an intro course.

    I plan to by more "Idiot" books, by Rabbi Blech and others.Mazel tov, Rabbi!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Complete guide to understanding Judaism
    It's a good book for people who have questions and know very little.It's a good reference book for those who have questions.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
    I bought this book together with an introduction to Islam No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, to understand more about both religions, having being raised a Christian.

    The book about Islam is written 'from the inside' by a Muslim scholar who presents a balanced and critical study of the development of Islam. Well worth a read!

    Benjamin Blech writes 'from the inside' but presents Judaism with distracting bias. References to the relative inadequacies of Christianity were unnecessary, simplistic and inaccurate. At one point he confuses Roman Catholicism & Orthodox Christianity - I'm not a theologian nor a practicing Christian but nonetheless found this irksome.

    I did learn from the book, but maybe not as positively about Judaism as I (& I assume Rabbi Blech) had hoped.

    Most of the positive book reviews presented here are written by Jews, clearly comforted by Rabbi Blech's affirmation of their existing perceptions.

    An "Idiot's Guide to Judaism", I had assumed, would be targeted at non-Jews. Maybe I just wasn't "idiot" enough for this one.

    5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best books on the Jewish faith!
    As a teacher of the "Old Testament" to 6th grade Catholic students, I am always looking for books that explain the Jewish faith and Hebrew scripture.This little gem is one of the most interesting coffee-table books ever!You will learn a great many things while being completely charmed by the easy-flowing writing style. I have found myself picking up the book to read a few things, only to find that an hour has gone by!You won't want to put it down!The topics are thoughtfully arranged, and the subject matter is both enlightening and fun to read.I highly recommend this book to Catholics, in particular, and to everybody who is interested in learning more about the Jewish faith and Jewish practices.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Starter Book
    The book is concise, covers a wide range of topics and is entertaining while describing a complicated religion. An enjoyable read, very informative and filled with fascinating facts, thoughts, history and possible future of Judaism.I would recommend this for anyone wanting to start learning about Judaism and the fascinating culture, traditions and religions. ... Read more

    7. Basic Judaism (Harvest Book.)
    by Milton Steinberg
    Paperback: 192 Pages (1965-03-17)
    list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$3.23
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0156106981
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Rabbi Steinberg identifies seven strands that weave together to make up Judaism: God, morality, rite and custom, law, sacred literature, institutions, and the people. A classic work directed to both the Jewish and the non-Jewish reader.
    ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (15)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The title does not do this book justice
    The short simple title gives a hint that the contents of this book will be just as concise, elegant, and to the point.I have read many books in my journey of discovery into Judaism and this one quickly became a favorite.I am always looking to increase my basic knowledge of Jewish theology, ethics, values, tradition, and history.I stumbled onto a small, used, worn, 172 page paperback copy of this book and was delighted and impressed with how Rabbi Milton Steinberg was able to simply and eloquently cover such a complex subject.I then bought a new copy to give my daughter.

    It takes someone who has truly mastered the material to give such a lucid and orderly presentation and Rabbi Steinberg's love of Judaism shines through each page.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Classic thinking and writing
    I'm delighted that this gem of a classic is still [or again?] in print. While there have been evolution and changes in Jewish individual and communal life in the past half century, Rabbi Milton Steinberg was an insightful theologian, a fine teacher, and a writer who was clear and succinct. Tragically, he died too young.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great Information
    I found this book helpful and useful for myself and to help explain some customs to others.Mine is a paperback book and small enough to travel with.Good read!

    2-0 out of 5 stars Made me Want to Beat My Head Against the Wall
    I am using this book in an Intro to Judaism class, so have a certain amount of required reading in it each week, as well as in several other books on the topic of Judaism. Every time I have to pick this one up, I groan. This has to be the worst written book ever. You can read three pages to find out what he could have said in three sentences. The author REALLY likes to hear himself talk. Boring, boring, boring, boring. The only reason I didn't give it no stars is because if you can FORCE yourself to keep going, you do eventually get some useful info, but only after the author beats the point to death, revives it, and beats it some more....

    1-0 out of 5 stars not very good...
    i could only read half an hour of this. ive read over a dozen guides in this vien. dont waste your money. ... Read more

    8. Judaism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
    by Norman Solomon
    Paperback: 160 Pages (2000-06-15)
    list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$6.37
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0192853902
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Norman Solomon's succinct book is an ideal introduction to Judaism as a religion and way of life. In addition to surveying the nature and development of Judaism, this Very Short Introduction outlines the basics of practical Judaism - its festivals, prayers, customs, and various sects. Modern concerns and debates of the Jewish people are also addressed, such as the impact of the Holocaust, the establishment of the State of Israel, the status of women, and medical and commercial ethics. This book makes fascinating reading for those who want to find out more about a people who are familiar, yet retain a certain mystique. ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (4)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Indeed a very short introduction, with a very undogmatic approach
    Norman Solomon's JUDAISM: A Very Short Introduction is a fairly typical installment in this Oxford University Press series. Within 150 pages, Solomon tries to give a very basic but nonetheless wide-ranging introduction to Judaism. Solomon was a fellow in Modern Jewish Thought at Oxford, and one of the major themes of his book is that Judaism is very difficult to define exactly. He emphasizes that Judaism is not a direct continuation of the religion of ancient Israel, but has its real beginnings in the dogma of rabbinic Judaism. This dogma has then been engaged by new religious movements, or left behind by those or see Judaism as just an ethnic identity or a general outlook on life. What Solomon gives us in his book is less one coherent faith, and more a variety of sometimes mutually contradictory beliefs and traditions that have all been referred to as Jewish.

    A book in this format is probably never going to be completely satisfying. At a time when lame antisemitism is making a comeback due to the political situation in the Middle East, I wished he could have offered some response to the argument that Judaism is a "racist religion", with membership in the faith and ethnic origin almost always tightly interwined. In fact, the entire phenomenon of conversion to Judaism is not discussed at all. Also, the book was first published in 1996 with a reprinting in 2000. A revised version is necessary to add to the history of Israel in chapter 8, which ends on a hopeful note with Oslo II.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Solomon's good judgment
    The PBS series The Jewish Americans happened to be showing, while I was reading this book, and the two complemented each other very well.I wholeheartedly recommend both.World Jewry numbers around 13 million, maybe as many as 18 million, depending on whom and how you count.More than 6 million live in the US, more even than in Israel itself.

    Being British, Solomon presents a somewhat Eurocentric view, but not to the extent that it is a problem, and I don't think American readers are for the most part troubled by the occasional British spelling or usage.

    It must be a daunting prospect for a scholar, having to condense a vast store of knowledge into one of these little books, deciding what to include and what must go, but Solomon judges this well.He emphasizes the diversity and continuing evolution of Judaism, correcting common misconceptions about how ancient or orthodox certain aspects of Judaism are.He also lays special stress on the importance of the Holocaust and of modern Israel in shaping contemporary Jewish thought.

    There are plenty of basic facts - descriptions of festivals, etc - included here, as you would expect.It also raises a great many issues and cites a number of authors, making this an excellent place to begin a more detailed study, if you wished.

    Solomon writes well, with a light, sometimes even humorous touch, where appropriate.He was a lecturer at Oxford when this book was first published in 1996, but is now retired, I believe.A revised edition wouldn't go amiss.Perhaps he is too busy working on his Penguin Classics Talmud, which is due out soon and should be worth reading.He is not to be confused with the American activist of the same name, although Amazon does exactly that, so that if you click on either author, you get a list of books by both of them.Take it from me, they are very different!

    5-0 out of 5 stars AN OUTSTANDING SHORT-COURSE
    Complete with fine remarks and introductory tutorials, Norman Solomon exerted accurate perceptions in this pamphlet.
    "Judaism: A Very Short Introduction" gave a run-through of every aspect of (ancient and modern) judaism. Its time-saving structure is neat: without omitting any of the vital issues which concerned the religion and its followers. This book is well-blended. It maintained proportionate dispositions towards religious practices, cultural heritage, and evolutionary anthropology. There is hardly any weakness in its presentations.
    Anybody who needs an insight into the 'dos' and 'don'ts' of judaism would find it useful. Its summarized contents included all the transformations, which the ancient religion has undergone.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to Rabbinic Judaism for Christians
    Christians tend to believe they know all they need to know about Judaism because their Old Testament consists of the Hebrew Scriptures.This book does an excellent job of showing Christians (and others) that Judaism today is more than Abraham, Moses and David.With the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, Judaism was forced to adapt and in many ways redefine itself.This easily read book explains the development of Rabbinic Judaism as opposed to Biblical Judaism.Anyone who claims to be a student of world religions should read it.Any Christian who wants to develop a better understanding of what was happening to Judaism in the early days of Christianity should also read it. ... Read more

    9. Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism
    by Dennis Prager, Joseph Telushkin
    Paperback: 224 Pages (1986-04-21)
    list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$2.79
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0671622617
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    If you have ever wondered what being born Jewish should mean to you; if you want to find out more about the nature of Judaism, or explain it to a friend; if you are thinking about how Judaism can connect with the rest of your life -- this is the first book you should own. It poses, and thoughtfully addresses, questions like these:

    Can one doubt God's existence and still be a good Jew?
    Why do we need organized religion?
    Why shouldn't I intermarry?
    What is the reason for dietary laws?
    How do I start practicing Judaism?

    The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism was written for the educated, skeptical, searching Jew, and for the non-Jew who wants to understand the meaning of Judaism. It has become a classic and very widely read introduction to the oldest living religion. Concisely and engagingly, authors Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin present Judaism as the rational, moral alternative for contemporary man. ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (25)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Intro to Jewish thought overview and somespecific critique
    To understand what this book is one first needs to understand what it isn't it isn't a piece of argumentation designed to convince non-Jews to become Jews. Though the book does present arguments, arguments are not its main point. The main point of the book is to introduce non-practicing Jews and non-Jews to ideas of Jewish ethics and religion. The book is primarily addressed to non-practicing Jews. The arguments presented are merely brief explanations of the Jewish worldview not fully formed pieces of argumenation designed to change the mind of committed non-believers. To the authors' credit they do not claim that this book is a thorough guide to Judaism and offer a guide to other books which are presumably more in depth. The arguments presented are not simplistic as narrow minded reviewers have claimed just basic.

    Also, while one can quarrel with the answers, the questions presented, I am convinced as a practicing Christian, are with the exception of the ones about Jewish statehood, the universal questions that all religions deal with: 1. Doubt 2. Religious hypocrisy 3. Differences between faiths and how to deal with them 4. Intermarriage 5. The disappointment of childern who fall away from the faith 6. The relevance of communal faith and 7.How does one actively practice their faith.

    Anyone, who is interested in these questions and the Jewish answers to them should find this book interesting. It stands to note though that as a non-Jew the last chapter did not have any real appeal to me. Also, the contents of the second chapter were covered much more effectively in Prager's Think a Second Time, which might be a more accesible guide for non-Jews wishing to introduce themself to Jewish ideas.

    Comments and critique:
    I must preface this by saying that I am a Christian and as such I was more interested in the comments about Christianity than the average non-Christian reviewer probably is.

    While Prager and Tuleshkin are right that Christianity emphasizes faith more than Judaism. Faith does not operate to justify entirely independtly of repentance as the authors seem to suggest. In fact the Christian Bible is clear that faith without ethical behavior is null. Also, the idea that Christians merely misunderstand Judaism and have no real disagreements with the traditional Jewish interpretations of the prophets and Old Testament seemed conceited. Finally the deduction that the emphasis on faith over ethics will always lead to fantacism seems patently wrong to me because it is not the traditions that have emphasized faith most heavily such as the Baptists that have been the cause of the worst Christian fanaticism but the traditions that have emphasized academic reason and ritual more such as Catholicism and Calvinism.

    Movements founded by Jews What has changed:
    One of the peculiar features of the book is the emphasis on Communism and secular utopianism movements that have essentially died since the writing of this book. They still are relevant though but perhaps in a later addition they should be talked about less and libertarianism which was becoming a key intellectual player at the time of the book (founded by another product of a Jewish family Ayn Rand) should be talked about to some extent instead. In particular I would like to see discussion about the Randyan secularist idea of mans ultimate worth in productive potential not moral goodness that has manifested itself in extreme careerism and social isolation in the US.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Title is misleading, premise is flawed
    This book should really be titled "The Nine Questions Practicing Jews Want Non-Practicing Jews To Ask About Judaism".Instead, the title gives one the impression that this is a basic guide to Judaism for non-Jews.The authors cleverly draw you in with various commentaries before revealing their true goal: to bring non-practicing Jews back to religious practice.Everything they say to try and persuade "strayed" Jews to become religious hinges on the belief that the Torah is the Holy Word of God.If you believe that the Torah was written by humans and is historical fiction, these arguments won't sway you at all.And if you are not Jewish, this book won't really answer many of the questions you may have about Judaism.

    5-0 out of 5 stars great for the skeptic
    Awesome book, I recommend for everyone to read especially the Intellectual Skeptic's. It's a great guide for Jews even if you Question the existence of G-d.

    5-0 out of 5 stars For inquiring minds....
    These two authors make a good team for giving responses to questions, responses that aren't too lengthy, yet are in-depth. That takes good writing, especially for a topic that some may find tough to get into. They make it not just palatable, but interesting.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A book for Jews who question the value of Judaism.
    This is a great book that squarely confronts the tough questions that Jewish people ask when they consider whether to devote any of their time to the faith of their fathers. ... Read more

    10. Choosing Judaism
    by Lydia Kukoff
    Paperback: 138 Pages (2005-01-01)
    list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$9.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0807408433
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    Product Description
    In print for over 20 years, Choosing Judaism has become a classic guide for individuals considering conversion.By sharing her own story, Lydia Kukoff has created a truly remarkable work about what it means to make this significant choice.Kukoff gives the reader a fresh perspective on the issues that face converts every day: dealing with your non-Jewish and Jewish family, creating your own Jewish community, and looking toward the future in your new Jewish faith.Years after her own conversion, she continues to question, grow, and learn, and encourages others to do the same.

    Choosing Judaism is an essential resource for every convert to Judaism, people just beginning their own journeys of becoming Jewish, and their loved ones. ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (9)

    2-0 out of 5 stars not that useful for singles
    This book starts off well, but soon it becomes clear that this is aimed at those converting because they're marrying a Jew - not much of a resource for those of us who are single and making the decision by ourselves. Not that it's necessarily a bad book, but if you're single and converting, don't bother.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Choosing Judaism is for everyone!
    This was a very fast reading book. I enjoyed the writes style. I found several things very interesting. I was shocked to see the writing indicating that it was 'okay to celebrate xtain holidays"... From my stand point, I've come out of the church and I do not want others sinning in the false belief factors.It is very hard to tell family that you can no longer partake in their holidays. The writer did indicate that 'your not partaking', but I have to beg to differ and say, if you eating, you partaking.There are many other days to get together with family, I.E. Thanksgiving. And for children to see both Jewish and church holidays is very confusing. We then wonder "where did assimilation come from?"
    The book was good, I have already recommended it to friends.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Not for the single
    Unless you are married or engaged to a born Jew, this book is practically worthless. The short quotes from converts are nice, and let me know I was not alone. Otherwise, there's not a whole lot here for the unattached.

    I would think, especially as Ms. Kukoff notes that she was interested in and reading about Judaism for years before she ever met her husband, she would understand a single person might be interested and begin theconversion process on their own.

    It was very little help to me, but if you can find it used at a second hand shop or book sale, it's worth a flip-through.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful
    My boyfriend is going to start classes and begin his conversion in September. I bought two copies of this wonderful book so that we could read it together. It gave me insight into what the conversion process would be like for me and how I could support his journey. It also discussed the role of our families. In addition to being an easy read, the book was informative.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Thinking about conversion
    This is an easy read, a how-to with some of the author's own story and a lot of quotes of others. I like it because it captures problems in talking to families about a big step that affects their feelings too. For all the books on conversion, there aren't many that talk about forming a community for yourself. That's important. It was worth buying, especially on sale.
    ... Read more

    11. Entree to Judaism: A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora
    by Tina Wasserman
    Hardcover: 472 Pages (2009-10-31)
    list price: US$39.95 -- used & new: US$25.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0807411108
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    What we eat says so much about who we are and from where we come. Do you like your matzah brie sweet or savory? Is your chicken soup matzah ball or mulligatawny? Does your menu feature a cheese torta or a tofu salad? Wherever Jews have settled, they have adapted local tastes and ingredients to meet the needs of Shabbat and kashrut, creating a rich and diverse menu of flavors and styles, all still Jewish. In Entrée to Judaism, Tina Wasserman leads a culinary journey around the world and across the ages, from Spain to India, from Russia to Tunisia, sharing the histories and recipes of the great Diaspora communities and the many wonderful ways they have told their stories through food. Accessible, easy-to-follow recipes for the novice home cook and expert chef alike. Features Tina's Tidbits, fun facts and great cooking tips for every recipe. Includes over 275 recipes and dozens of full-color photos ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (2)

    5-0 out of 5 stars a must have
    wonderful book...great recipes, bought three, one for each of my nieces...have made many wonderful dishes using...a great gift

    5-0 out of 5 stars Especially recommended for family, professional, and community library Ethnic Cookbook collections
    Jewish communities from around the world during the last two millennia of the diaspora absorbed a great many culinary traditions, transforming them to accord with the dietary and religious requirements that their faith required of them. The result is a rich diversity that is as much a part of the Jewish cultural legacy as the synagogue and the Torah. Documenting this remarkable culinary heritage is "Entree to Judaism: A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora", an impressive 472-page compendium of authentic recipes compiled with commentary by Tina Wasserman, an award-winning cooking instructor, food columnist for 'Reform Judaism' magazine, and specialist in contemporary kosher cuisine. Superbly illustrated throughout in full color, "Entree to Judaism: A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora" showcases more than 275 recipes featuring thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' instructions. With palate pleasing, appetite satisfying dishes ranging from Syrian Apricot compote in Rose Water Syrup; Moroccan Chicken Kebabs; Greek Psari Saganaki; and Three-Potato Cheese Gratin; to Miniature Chocolate Almond Tortes; Kneidlach (Matzah Balls); Tunisian Briks; New York Style Cheesecake; and English Tomato Chutney, "Entree to Judaism: A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora" is especially recommended for family, professional, and community library Ethnic Cookbook collections.
    ... Read more

    12. Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism and for Their Family and Friends
    by Anita Diamant
    Paperback: 320 Pages (1998-02-24)
    list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$6.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0805210954
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Product Description
    Married to a convert herself, Anita Diamant provides advice and information that can transform the act of conversion into an extraordinary journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth.

    Here you will learn how to choose a rabbi, a synagogue, a denomination, a Hebrew name; how to handle the difficulty of putting aside Christmas; what happens at the mikvah (ritual bath) or at a hatafat dam brit (circumcision ritual for those already circumcised); how to find your footing in a new spiritual family that is not always well prepared to receive you; and how not to lose your bonds to your family of origin. Diamant anticipates all the questions, doubts, and concerns, and provides a comprehensive explanation of the rules and rituals of conversion.
    ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (51)

    5-0 out of 5 stars What A Great Read!
    This book was just what I needed, I was looking for insight and explanations into and for the Jewish Faith, and how I may be integrated into it.This is not a "preachy" book, simply a guide to "translate" all things concerning the process of converting to Judaism- what's involved.It is left to the reader if indeed he or she is ready or wanting to become Jewish.But it is fascinating reading, and I highly recommend it to both those seriously considering conversion, and to those that are curious, or have simply always wondered about Jewish rituals and celebrations!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Uplifting
    As mentioned in some other reviews, this book is an excellent source for those interested in REFORM Judaism, not Orthodox, and is especially geared toward those converting because of a relationship.It is beautifully written and made me feel that I could be loved and accepted for a vast variety of beliefs and feelings.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good for the right audience
    Choosing a Jewish Life is easy to read and contains a lot of good information for people convering to Judaism.It is geared toward people approaching marriage to Jews, but not exclusively.

    4-0 out of 5 stars wonderful but incomplete
    This book was recommended to me by my college's rabbi after I met with him regarding my interest in conversion. It's well-written, and conversational without being condescending; all of the steps involved are described in detail (as long as you are not considering an orthodox conversion - she is upfront about the fact that the book is written from a Reform/Conservative perspective).

    My one complaint is that I had been hoping that she'd spend more time discussing two things: the unique issues that people of color face when going through this process, and the experience of converting when your partner is a secular Jew. In fairness she does explore the latter somewhat when talking about her own story at the beginning of the book; her husband is a convert, and through him she came to rediscover and embrace her own practice. (If I remember correctly, she also includes the old joke about the Jewish man who complains to his father about his devout convert wife: "That's what you get for marrying a shiksa!" ) Also, the fact that these are issues I have confronted makes me a minority within a minority, so it can't be expected that there will be much literature on the subject.

    All in all, this is a must-have book for anyone exploring a more liberal Jewish practice. Her book The New Jewish Wedding is also highly recommended.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for those considering conversion to Judaism
    This author covers family issues that are encountered upon conversion, choosing you rabbi, conversion study, conversion of children, and the conversion process itself.

    I especially liked the bibliography. She lists other books that may be of help in that she points you in the right direction if you are considering a certain movement. For example, if you are interested in pursuing the Reform movement she mentions the book Choosing Judaism, for the Conservative book there is Becoming Jewish, and so on.

    The only quibble that I have with the book is that I had to use two bookmarks because the author frequently cites notes in the back of the book. These notes are not the kind of cryptic notes that cites references, but are additional explanations that actually add insight to what was said on the referring page. So, I had to go back and forth between the bookmarks. It would have been more readable to have the notes as a footnote on the page. ... Read more

    13. What I Wish My Christian Friends Knew about Judaism
    by Robert Schoen
    Paperback: 200 Pages (2004-04)
    list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$7.06
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 082941777X
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Product Description
    While admitting that "describing what itís like to be Jewish is like describing snow," author Robert Schoen provides a smart and practical understanding of Judaism for a Christian audience. In What I Wish My Christian Friends Knew about Judaism, he presents readers with thoughtful insight into Judaism. Writing from the perspective of an "average Jewish American," Schoen points out the differences and highlights the similarities between Judaism and Christianity.

    Readable chapters promote understanding and tolerance. Schoen discusses the different sects of Judaism and what they mean and believe; describes Jewish ceremonies, holidays, and festivals; and explains religious texts, symbols, religious apparel, and kosher food. Important historical and social issues including anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, Israel, and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East are also addressed. The book includes a glossary of Hebrew and Yiddish words and a pronunciation guide. ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (11)

    5-0 out of 5 stars What I Wish My Christian Friends Knew About Judaism
    This is a well-written book that gives a wealth of information to help the non-Jewish population understand their Jewish friends, their faith, or lack thereof, and their culture.I am enjoying it immensely.

    5-0 out of 5 stars You don't have to be Christian to love Schoen's book
    As a Jew I frequently am asked by non-Jews about such things as Kaballah (which I know nothing about) and if I keep kosher (I don't, but I have a hard time explaining why I don't). When I hear phrases such as "Christian values" I want to say that they originally were Jewish values.When people wish me a happy Easter or merry Christmas, I want to explain to them why I don't celebrate either of those holidays and why Hannukah is not a big holiday for adult Jews without children.

    Along came Schoen's book, and suddenly the answers are there, with simple explanations that are non-confrontational.With about 70 short chapters, Schoen has created a reference work that clearly explains how the religion is practiced in the US today, the holidays, the beliefs and the food.

    Chapters cover Jewish weddings, bar mitzvahs, circumcisions and funerals.The different branches of Judaism from Orthodox to Reform are covered, as are the different holidays, the symbols, women and Judaism and social issues.

    Schoen covers some of Jewish history including the Holocaust, but fortunately avoids partisan lectures about such controversies as supporting Israel and condemning radical Muslims.

    This should be required reading for Jewish and non-Jewish schoolchildren alike.It is a reference work that need not be read cover to cover.One can simply go to a particular relevant chapter as needed, such as High Holidays, Intermarriage or Anti-Semitism.The glossary and pronunciation guide will help readers to understand the Yiddish words that are finding their ways into the American lexicon.Schoen has condensed information about nearly everything Jewish into an easy-to-read, 250 page book that could help us all understand one another a little better.

    5-0 out of 5 stars One of the Best...
    This is one of the best books about "Judaism for non-Jews" I've ever read.When I was studying for my conversion to Reform Judaism a couple of years ago, I referred to it constantly.It is very readable, and Mr. Schoen shares anecdotes from his own experiences that are pertinent to each topic he covers.Even now, I often go to this book when I have a question that requires an accurate but not highly technical answer.

    One of my closest friends is a born-again Christian.When she came for a visit a few months ago, she attended synagogue with us and observed some of the religious rituals we perform at home.She has never had much exposure to Judaism, so she had lots of questions.When her birthday rolled around, I ordered a copy of this book from Amazon to send to her as a gift, thinking it would be just right.Well, I'll let her own words speak for her...this is an excerpt from the e-mail she wrote me when she received the book:"And the book...I've been reading it every time I sit down. It's just perfect. It really is easy to read, and I've already recognized some of the things I learned while I stayed with you guys. Very interesting."

    In short, this is an excellent book!

    5-0 out of 5 stars great-full of information!
    This book is great-simple to follow & full of information. I think it's a must read for every Catholic.Thanks Robert Schoen.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Good introduction, leaves one interested to learn more
    I found myself in the odd position of minoring in Jewish Studies without knowing anything about modern Judaism (all the classes I've taken have been on the ancient period).Reading this book has been my first step toward remedying that.

    This was an excellent introduction to modern Judaism.It did leave me with questions--but that's the job of a good introductory work, to show you that there is more out there to learn. The glossary (with pronunciations!) is also a good resource.I highly recommend this book. ... Read more

    14. Embracing Judaism
    by Simcha Kling, Carl M. Perkins
    Paperback: 236 Pages (1999-12-30)
    list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$8.70
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0916219151
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Customer Reviews (6)

    4-0 out of 5 stars So much great information
    This book is a great resource and delivers a lot of information in a very systematic format.Of all the books that I have read in preparing to convert, this has been the most useful.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Helpful in many ways.
    I just found out that my grandmother was Jewish. I bought this book to find out more as this became a wonderful shock to me. I was raised an aithiest and growing up I learned by myself the many ways of living. I suppose I was seeking. I did not make a good aithiest. This book made me feel that my options are still open.What was once precious to my mothers family has a history of survival against amazing odds, they continued to BELIEVE even when life was at stake. They survived, I am here and I will honor them all by not forgeting.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I received this book as a gift from a Rabbi
    The rabbi who gave this to me is Rabbi Richard K. Rocklin of Temple Beth Tikvah in Greenacres, Florida. He said he gives it to all people who express an interest is converting to Judaism.

    I am glad the Rabbi sent me this book because it is very succinct and straightforward. The things I found most helpful about this book are the discussion of the different Jewish holidays and the description of the different movements within Judaism. I found it very interesting to read that there is a difference between "movements" and "denominations." In other words, "Reform" Judaism is not to "Orthadox" Judaism as "Catholic" is to "Baptist." It was interesting for me to learn that while the different movements practice differently, they still accept one another as being Jewish (though they may not always agree on things). It was an interesting eye opener.

    I also found it interesting to read that many Jewish people do not literally believe the stories in Torah, the Biblical stories. Perhaps the most eye-opening thing in this book is the fact that Judaism rejects the concept of "Original Sin." Prior to reading this book, I had assumed that Judaism taught Original Sin just as Catholicism does (because, after all, you hear so much about the "Judeo-Christian Tradition"). This book will always be important to me for teaching me that Judaism rejects this concept. I sometimes wonder how different my worldview would have been, and my life thus far, had I not been taught the concept of Original Sin at such a young age. I'm happy to say I am un-learning that concept. I don't believe human beings are inherently sinful, and I'm glad this book showed me that there are others who feel the same way.

    5-0 out of 5 stars a refreshing introduction to Jewish life
    This book answered so many of my questions about Jewish life and values. The chapter on what Judaism teaches really opened up a lot of windows for me and the book is filled with good practical information about the basicsof Jewish living (such as keeping Shabbat and following the dietary laws).I was glad the author doesn't promote one "type" of Judaism, orone movement over another: he presents the ideological differences &outlines the hallmarks of Jewish life, leaving the reader to make her ownchoice. About a third of the book discusses Jewish history & I found ithelpful to read a breezy but careful synopsis of major trends in Jewishhistory, without having to plow through something long & complicated.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best One Volume Introduction to Judaism Available!
    When the first edition to this book appeared some years ago, I was disappointed. But with the masterful reworking by Rabbi Perkins, this bookrises to first place in one-volume introductions available. As acongregational rabbi, I helped over 200 people convert to Judaism. Now, asDean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Judaism, I supervise the MillerIntroduction to Judaism program. We're always on the prowl for books thatare informative, thoughtful, accurate and passionate. Embracing Judaismfits the bill, and we will work hard to get it into the hands of today'sseekers, Jewish and non-Jewish. This book makes complex ideas clear,without preaching, distorting, or infantilizing. A wonderful book! ... Read more

    15. Gateway to Judaism: The What, How, And Why of Jewish Life
    by Mordechai Becher
    Hardcover: 518 Pages (2005-11-07)
    list price: US$29.99 -- used & new: US$19.79
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1422600300
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Gateway to Judaism delivers an engaging insider look at the mindset, values, and practices of contemporary traditional Judaism. Rabbi Becher demonstrates that Judaism today is anything but anachronistic rites and disjointed rituals. Rather, his book opens a portal to a vibrant lifestyle that brings joy and meaning to Jewish living. Based on years of answering thousands of challenging inquiries, Becher's work blends elements of Jewish philosophy and law with an intensely practical explanation of how Jews actually live. ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (13)

    5-0 out of 5 stars My favorite "intro" to Judaism
    I loved reading this book ... it tugged at my emotions and gave me new perspectives on God, life, and everything in between.Judaism is so beautiful, but books rendering it are often tedious; not this one.Of all the books I've read on Judaism (I've started 6, but finished only 4), this is by far my favorite.Every time I re-read a section, I learn something new.The explanations are often brief, precise, but well-stated and thorough.

    The beginning starts differently than any other book on Judaism - with marriage TWO BECOME ONE - just like in the beginning there was Adam and Eve.He explains how we are incomplete until we find our other half.

    The first section of the book renders the "cycle of life" and the holidays (the yearly cycle).The next section is about the Torah and the Land.The third section is about the Jewish persona (modesty in dress and material things), eating for health, physically and spiritually, and character (behavior).The next section is on Thought, the next Speech, and recommended further reading.

    So he makes the book about you, not about Judaism as a learning subject ... his rendition really enabled me as a reader to feel Jewish.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent, well organized and clearly written guide to Judaism.
    This guide to Judaism is very well organized and clearly written. I bought a copy for each of our three adult children. It is a great reference for them and our grandchildren.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Very insightful
    After having read Judaism for Dummies [[ASIN:0764552996 Judaism for Dummies] the next logical step was to gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

    Gateway to Judaism provides just that. Whether read on it's on, or after Judaism for Dummies, it provides a wealth of important information about Jewish customs and living a Jewish lifestyle. The practical examples of how the Levi family operates and the selected laws for each festival are really helpful.

    I highly recommended this book, especially if you're Jewish and want to regain some knowledge that may have faded. It's a good read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Gateway
    The book arrived very quickly and in excellent order. It is very informative to any one wishing to learn more about the Jewish faith or Jewish Race. It will help you to understand their ways and customs and make you appreciate their lifestyle more. It has helped myself as an American Jew to better understand why I am the way I am at times. Very informative reading andjoy.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A well written and in-depth analysis of the contemporary lifestyles and practices of the Jewish people
    Gateway To Judaism: The What, How, And Why Of Jewish Life by Rabbi Mordechai Becher is an informed and informative introduction offering the reader a well written and in-depth analysis of the contemporary lifestyles and practices of the Jewish people. As a superbly organized and presented study of the many varying intricacies of the Jewish life, Gateway To Judaism focuses upon the modern Jewry, relating him to the jews of ancient or earlier times, and cogently investigates the acceptable new traits, practices etc, as well as defines the line to be drawn when exploring your own practices. Gateway To Judaism is a very strongly recommended read for the traditional practitioner of the Judaic faith, especially those more subversive or explorative.
    ... Read more

    16. Judaism and Christianity: the Differences
    by Trude Weiss-Rosmarin
    Paperback: 160 Pages (1997-01-01)
    list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$9.25
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0824603982
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    Dr. Rosmarins popularly written yet authoritative volume forthrightly analyzes the basic differences between Judaism and Christianity.She maintains that there is an inherent conflict between the basic views of these mother/daughter religions, a conflict that cannot be resolved but that must be understood.Among the subjects addressed are miracles, sin and atonement, faith versus law, Free Will versus Original Sin, asceticism, and the place of Jesus in Jewish thinking. ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (11)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Judaism and Christianity:the Differences

    Enlightening book about the differences between Judaism and Christianity and why the jews do not accept Christ.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Optimistic Jew
    Best would be to cite from the back cover of this book: "...the notion that Judaism and Christianity, to maintain harmonious relations, must level their distinctive characteristics is really a totalitarian aberration...democracy is predicated on the conviction that differences are no justification for inequality and discrimination. The democratic way is that those of different views and beliefs respect the dissimilar views and beliefs of their neighbors." Should be compulsory reading for every young Jew.This was a vital source for my chapter "Living with the Christians" in my book "The Optimistic Jew: a Positive Vision for the Jewish People in the 21st Century"

    5-0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth the time and $
    I think that this book presents in a very balanced way the main differences between Judaism and Christianity. It deals more with the theology, doctrine, concepts, etc. of each religion more than the actual practices, and it addresses many of the more subtle differences that many people might not be aware of or might not have thought about, such as the differences between the Jewish and Christian gods. Very interesting.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A good book explaining the Jewish perspective
    Written from the Jewish perspective, Ms. Weiss-Rosmarin delineates the differences between Judaism and Christianity. While Christians will not be persuaded by her arguments, certainly they will understand why Jews are not persuaded by Christian viewpoints. She clearly lays out many issues, but I particularly liked how she shows that the Law could never be superseded by any later doctrine. I think this book should be mandatory reading for any fundamentalist Christian who seeks to convert Jews, so that he or she will see why it is a waste of time.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Very incomplete Comparison
    I grew in a Christian home but have recently begun the journey to convert to Judaism. I bought this book expecting an objective description of the differences between the two religions. Instead I found a very biased account of the differences in favor of Judaism. Now, this in and of itself, is not a bad thing. It is written from a Jewish authors perspective, but I found that the arguments were not well founded. For example, the author used arguments to try and disprove a point in chistianity that is a point of Judaism, one example is how the author tries to prove how Christians worship people while jewish people only worship God. The author uses the point that although many protestant denominations only worship Jesus they still worship humans, since in Judaism Jesus was not God. I think in order to make a point about Christianity one must come at it from the point of view of a Christian. Try and disprove it that way, and therefore the argument could be much more valid. Also, on a number of occasions the author would point out 'obvious' inconsistencies in biblical reference in the New Testament and even quote the passage, but then neglect to point out why and leave it up to the reader to determine why. This is why I am reading the book, to get the author's perspective of why!

    I would encourange a person wanting to discover the true differences between these two religions to look elsewhere. ... Read more

    17. American Judaism: A History
    by Jonathan D. Sarna
    Paperback: 512 Pages (2005-10-24)
    list price: US$23.00 -- used & new: US$12.98
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0300109768
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    This magisterial work chronicles the 350-year history of the Jewish religion in America. Tracing American Judaism from its origins in the colonial era through the present day, Jonathan Sarna explores the ways in which Judaism adapted in this new context. How did American culture—predominantly Protestant and overwhelmingly capitalist—affect Jewish religion and culture? And how did American Jews shape their own communities and faith in the new world?
    Jonathan Sarna, a preeminent scholar of American Judaism, tells the story of individuals struggling to remain Jewish while also becoming American. He offers a dynamic and timely history of assimilation and revitalization, of faith lost and faith regained.
    The first comprehensive history of American Judaism in over fifty years, this book is both a celebration of 350 years of Jewish life in America and essential reading for anyone interested in American religion and life.
    ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (6)

    5-0 out of 5 stars American Judaism-A Review
    Confirmong things I already knew, and teaching me things I didn't, Jonathan Sarna has done a wonderful job of putting the history of Jewish America into perspective.I really appreciated his use of language, and the elementary way he presented his research in an extremely underatandable way.The book is filled with interesting facts and stories that bring this history to life and into context with our current events and situations.Thank you Mr. Sarna for this wonderful and enlightening edition.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Sprightly, optimistic take on the American Jewish community
    If those who try to predict the fate of American Jewry can be divided into pessimists and optimists, count Jonathan Sarna emphatically among the optimists. In this succinctly written and cogently argued history of American Judaism, the Brandeis University historian makes a strong case that Jews on these shores have a promising future as well as a storied past.

    This book is particularly appealing because Sarna, unlike many academics, has a clear prose style that occasionally even displays a bit of flair.

    "Since the demand for first-rate rabbis greatly outstripped the supply, the marketplace soon restored substantial power to the rabbinate," he writes, discussing America in the 1840s.

    Or: "East European Jews looked to Reform Jews: sometimes they quietly emulated them, sometimes they explicitly rejected them, but never could they totally ignore them."

    Sarna's book is not a full account of all aspects of American Jewish history. That would be well nigh impossible in only 375 pages. Rather, it is a history of the Jewish religion in America-what American Jews have believed about God and about their traditions, which religious rituals they have practiced (or stayed away from), and how they have organized themselves religiously.

    There has been much discussion in the past decades about the "disappearing American Jew," the decline in religious observance in an ever-modernizing community, and the rapid onset of "assimilation," a term that Sarna generally shuns in this book as "virtually meaningless." Sarna reminds us that the predictors of gloom and doom have been predicting gloom and doom for generations and that the community has somehow survived the predictions. Sarna tells us, for example, that in 1924, it was reported that only 17 percent of Jewish children in New York City were studying in any kind of Jewish school, and that a decade later, a distinguished American journal of social science foresaw "the total eclipse of the Jewish church in America."

    Sarna is, of course, aware that intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews is at historically high levels and that Jews probably constitute only about 2 percent of the American Jewish population today, down from close to 3.6 percent in the World War II years. But he retains confidence that, as it has done so many times from the 1640s on, American Judaism will reinvent itself.

    Looking back at centuries of Jewish life in America, Sarna shows how Judaism has grown, changed, and become revitalized here. Mordecai Kaplan's Reconstructionist theories about Jewish peoplehood, the growth of Zionism as an American Jewish "religion," the upsurge of Jewish spirituality among students and intellectuals that began in the 1970s, the contemporary rise of a newly confident Orthodoxy--he sees all of these developments as helping to meet the challenges to Jewish continuity posed by America's open, pluralistic, and democratic society.

    Very much to his credit, Sarna tells the story of Judaism in America against the backdrop of American religion in general. Sarna has at his fingertips not only the vast literature about Judaism in America but also the vast literature about Christianity in America. He is able to explain periods of awakening in Jewish life, or periods of decline in religious faith, as reflecting what is going on the nation as a whole. The perspective is important: Jews sometimes forget that non-Jewish religious movements also face assimilation, and non-Jewish ethnic groups also encounter high rates of intermarriage.

    In addition to Sarna's sprightly style and his ability to cover pretty much every important development in a book of reasonable size, American Judaism is notable for its conclusion: "With the help of visionary leaders, committed followers, and generous philanthropists, it may still be possible for the current `vanishing' generation of American Jews to be succeeded by another `vanishing' generation, and then still another." Well, that's guarded optimism, but optimism it is.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Could not put it down
    Jonathan Sarna's book is the first American Jewish History that I could not put down.Should be required reading for all American Jews.I have read Jewish history and studied in college under Arthur Hertzberg, Arnie Eisen, Michael Stanislawski, so that little here was actually new to me.The book, however, put everything into proper perspective and traced trends in a logical readable way -- beautiful analysis of the origins, history and current status of the major movements of Judaism.

    In case Dr. Sarna reads this -- here are my gripes: Personalities, such as Zalman Schachter-Shalomi merit too much of Sarna's attention. Similarly, Rebbetzin Jungreis is interesting but not far reaching in impact.Hadassah, and the extent to which it went hand in hand with Sisterhood's domination of suburban women's lives, barely gets passing mention.So too with the Soviet Jewry movement.

    While Sarna does a beautiful job tracing the origins and sequelae of Orthodoxy's shift "to the right," he makes a few important omissions in describing other movements, such as Conservative Judaism.For example, he neglects to point out that the Movement's Law Committee had already approved Women's ordination before the Rabbinical Assembly voted to include women or the JTS faculty put it to a vote.Sarna suggests that the JTS faculty decision was purely expedient and not based on halachic considerations, which at least institutionally if not to the lay people, remains crucial.Similarly, at one point, Sarna notes that there is little distance today between left-wing Conservative and right-wing Reform.Quite true.But also worthy of note is the little distance between left-wing Orthodox "Modern orthodox" and right -wing Conservative, both of those last groups a vanishing breed.

    Note too, Dr. Sarna, that Joe Leiberman carefully avoided describing himself as "Orthodox," preferring the word "observant."

    All in all, an absolutely magnificent work.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A masterful history by a scholar optimist
    In the closing chapter of this mastefully done history of Judaism in America Jonathan Sarna points to major problems the community faces today. One is the problem of boundaries, of defining who is a Jew, and who belongs to the community. Another problem is the one most spoken of the problem of assimilation and intermarriage. The Jewish community has in the last forty years seen an accelerating rate of intermarriage from around seven percent in the early 1950-'s to close to fifty percent today. Another problem(All these problems are interrelated) is the dimnishing numbers of the community that can no longer as it could some time ago rely on immigration to replenish its ranks. And many see that these problems are all moving the community to greater and greater bipolarization,on the one handa majority of assimilated and assimilating Jews with little Jewish knowledge or sense of ethnic or communal belonging, and on the othera more intensely religiously learned and religiously identified Jewish minority. Sarna somewhat worriedly describes these problems, but nonetheless points to past communal resilience . He suggests that the American Jewish community will findanswers and new ways to flourish.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Finally, Jewish Optimism for a Change
    Finally, a well written and optimistic summary of 350 years of Jewish Faith in America.The ups, downs and in betweens.The downs in American Jewish worship seem to be quite brief in retrospect.It seems like the "peopledom" need to read this book to appreciate and respect the differences/similiarities between themselves and the faithful.Some may appreciate the faith in a better light and appreciate life as Jews, even if they choose not to worship.

    Currently, Mr. Roth should learn to write something upbeat from this material.Perhaps, "Goodbye Columbus" and "The Plot Against America" may eventually be supplanted with a happy feel good Jewish novel about a Ray Frank personality, among others.This book is for all, who have never expected Jewish optimism and yet have truly lived it at some point in their lives.Perhaps, some authors may actually create a more optimistic portrayal of our history for another Sarna in the next century.

    Sarna finally appreciates Judaism as an American Faith, but examines it in a comparative, rational and methodical manner.For those admirers of Carr on History, this is a more objective Jewish religious history to match the Trevelyn epics with less pages and more color.Trevelyn is by no means perfect, but how can you cover so much, so well; Sarna simply does.This book will pass the test of time.Many of the tribe or "peopledom" may better appreciate their Faith and their religious options in life.

    For those looking for credit in the vast sea of Judaic religious personalities, some will be left out.We can debate about it, but history evolves as does the book of life.Yet, this book covers the different movements in a way that no other enlightened text does.Sarna introduces us to many historical and contemporary characters, some who we know and others who we should.

    The Reform Movement begins to look more Orthodox, but tolerant and yet a reflection of the "agree to disagree" mentality within itself, but up to a point for those who know.The limits of each movement appear to some who are ignorant.Also, who is worships as a Jew, among the movements and who does not. There are limits and Sarna does not seem to upset us.

    Read it, especially if you are a Conservative who care and do not appreciate the Reform movement.Sarna seems to suggest it as a wake up call. This helps awaken those who are of the Jewish Faith in America and how the faithful have worked for us.

    Yet, he covers the history of Conservative Judaism and how it woke up the Reform Movement, as well.Perhaps, to the ignorance of some, who should read the book and be inspired to do Tzedakah.Those who are insular might find solace in the answers that it may bring in light of how our Faith has been expressed in a free society.Particularly those who are Orthodox and want to be open about Faith and just fear their own Faith.This book covers how the Orthodox movement attempted to find Jews in America and how other movements wished to enlighten those who can be part of the Faith as Faithful members of our tribe.

    An objective reader, who has some sense of Jewish religious history will appreciate it.Those who don't know the roots of their own religion may find it fascinating and helpful.This book provides future authors opportunities to delve into colorful characters like Rachel 'Ray' Frank, among others.

    The personas not only cover the Jewish evangelicals, like Ray, but also the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform and not necessarily in that order.Again, many of us agree to disagree on who should be the mentionables.Sarna does justice to Judaism as a whole.This book is for those sick of the pessimism and put downs portrayed by the Sandlers, Masons, and the media.Maybe Spielberg can inspire Roth to read it.

    Jews have a rich and vibrant religion that differs from all others, yet expresses a common belief in ad_n_i.Sarna should have been a positive icon, but the media really never picked up on him.In so doing, Sarna offers the non-Jew as well as the Jew the opportunity to find fascinating parallels in our differing and similar beliefs in G_d as well as rites. ... Read more

    18. Liberal Judaism
    by Eugene B Borowitz
    Paperback: 468 Pages (1984-05-01)
    list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$4.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0807402648
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    This book probes the varieties of Jewish thought and ritual practice from the perspective of liberal Judaism. ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (2)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Book for Christian study?
    After reading this book, I have selected it for use as a Bible Study topic. Understanding of our common roots and circumstances in the modern world can be gleaned from its pages.

    Borowitz gives flesh to the history of the Jewish people from an early semetic tribe to its place today as a force in America and throughout the world. An understanding can be gained of the various branches of the Jewish religion as well as the secular Jew in our society.

    His insights are acute and get to the heart of many of our modern concerns in 2009.A work of several years Borowitz has put forth a masterpiece of wit and reason. Always 'God' centered, he has given a guide book for a path through many of todays thorny questions. In closing I would repeat the words of the Psalmist as Borowitz did:

    I Shall not die but live
    and proclaim Adonai's deeds.
    I praise You, for You answered me
    and have become my deliverance.(118:17,21)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The best book about Reform Judaism around!
    This book is a must for anyone interested in learning about Reform Judaism.The author gives several different viewpoints on subjects ranging from Zionism, Creation, Life Cycle Events, Israel, etc., leaving the reader free to form his/her own opinions as well as understand others' viewpoints on a wide range of topics relevent to all Jews and those who are interested in Judaism.A definite 5* book! ... Read more

    19. The Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam: A New Edition (Princeton Classic Editions)
    by F. E. Peters
    Paperback: 264 Pages (2006-08-21)
    list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$12.87
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0691127697
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    F.E. Peters, a scholar without peer in the comparative study of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, revisits his pioneering work after twenty-five years. Peters has rethought and thoroughly rewritten his classic The Children of Abraham for a new generation of readers-at a time when the understanding of these three religious traditions has taken on a new and critical urgency.

    He began writing about all three faiths in the 1970s, long before it was fashionable to treat Islam in the context of Judaism and Christianity, or to align all three for a family portrait. In this updated edition, he lays out the similarities and differences of the three religious siblings with great clarity and succinctness and with that same remarkable objectivity that is the hallmark of all the author's work.

    Peters traces the three faiths from the sixth century B.C., when the Jews returned to Palestine from exile in Babylonia, to the time in the Middle Ages when they approached their present form. He points out that all three faith groups, whom the Muslims themselves refer to as "People of the Book," share much common ground. Most notably, each embraces the practice of worshipping a God who intervenes in history on behalf of His people.

    The book's text is direct and accessible with thorough and nuanced discussions of each of the three religions. Updated footnotes provide the reader with expert guidance into the highly complex issues that lie between every line of this stunning and timely new edition of The Children of Abraham.

    ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (8)

    4-0 out of 5 stars A bold undertaking, but requires a thicker book
    This book attempts to explain the main features and developments of the three monotheistic religions. Though it treats nothing in depth, it gives good summaries of some points and provides tantalizing details which might be new even for people with some knowledge of the subjects. It is copiously footnoted and readers are encouraged to examine the listed sources for more detail.

    Of course, being a broad survey, it does contain errors and questionable simplifications, some more serious than others. This isn't the place to get into all of those, but a couple points could be mentioned.

    First Esposito noted the timeliness of this book in its foreword: inter-religious understanding is now more important than ever. Regrettably some opportunities to clear up misunderstandings were missed. Pp. 114-115, for example discusses martyrs, noting that Husayn, grandson of Mohammed, is the prototypical martyr of Islam.The Shiites see it that way, but do Sunnis also recognize Husayn as the prototype of a martyr? That's new for me. But when I read of Islamic martyrs, I think of Yasser Arafat , who called suicide bombings martyrdom operations. Peters had a good chance here to clarify the notion of martyrdom in Islam, but he didn't. So the question remains, at least for me: How do real Muslim scholars define a martyr?

    Perhaps the most flagrant evasion of an issue is the discussion of Muslim asceticism, which follows a rebuke of Christian mortifications, esp. pp. 118 and 121. When the subject turns to Mohammed, he is seen as being more balanced. "He seems neither excessive nor particularly abstemious in his behavior. ... Nor did he preach to others any discernible degree of voluntary self-restraint or self-denial with respect to the legitimate pleasures in life (p. 121)."

    I don't think one can fairly discuss Christian asceticism without mentioning the virtue of chastity. Christians are taught that their bodies are God's temple, God's spirit dwells in them, they are members of Christ's body, and non-marital sex is a sin against one's body (I Cor. 3:16, 6:13-20). Jesus also states that sexual sins can be committed in the heart, just by lusting for a woman (Matt. 5:28). This kind of asceticism or self-restraint is expected of all Christians.

    But back to Mohammed. What were these "legitimate pleasures in life" which he allowed? Well, Muslim men could have sex with their slaves (Quran, 33:50-52, wrongly given by Peters (p. 121) as 35:50-52), and by extension with their female prisoners of war. Thus Bukhari 005:059:459, Muslim 008:3371 and numerous other ahadith show that Mohammed's men practiced coitus interruptus on their prisoners because a pregnancy would lower their value on the slave market. Mohammed mildly rebuked the interruptus, but not the coitus. Of course nearly all sex with war captives was non-consensual, or put another way, what Peters calls "the legitimate pleasures in life" included the rape of women at the mercy of Mohammed and his troops.

    So, when Peters talks about the "self-abasement" of overzealous monks in the desert (p. 118), probably due to a strong Manichaean influence, he is ducking a larger issue. Christian chastity makes it possible for us to treat ourselves and all people, regardless of their background or circumstances, as created in the image of God. In the eyes of a Christian, Mohammed's troops not only degraded their victims, they also defiled themselves. This is not a mere difference of degree, with Mohammed being more easy-going than Jesus in matters of sexuality. Radically opposing viewpoints on human dignity and personal sanctity come to the surface in this and in other incidents.

    My question about this book, therefore, is whether certain facts are being ignored to spare people the pain of having to confront some unpleasant truths. Admittedly this works both ways. I was happy to read a book on this period without having my face rubbed in the atrocities of the First Crusade again. But if we are to make progress in understanding one another, and bettering ourselves, we must also undergo the afflictive process of confronting the crimes which are sadly part of our heritage.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Don't forget there is a Glossary!
    Very interesting, but even though the TOC and preface indicates there is a glossary, the point missed me until halfway through the book.The glossary is there and is needed. Some of the words being from foreign or dead languages make it a challange.Being a christain the portions dealing with islam were the most edifying for me.Not sure the book will lead to world peace or the greater tolorance of different religions, but will definitly give all followers of all three a better grasp of why each religion is the way it is.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Mediocre
    This is not one of the best books I have ever read. It does a sub-par job of explaining christianity, Islam and Judaism. The style of reading is rather plain and can get very dry and drag on at times. I would say this is a mediocre book and that is about it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A grand introduction to the 3 Abrahamic religions
    I had to read this book for a course I'm taking, and I surprisingly found this book very interesting. I've read it three times in a few months now, and hence have found great use for it. Peters has a very good ability to not write only on the terms of one of the 3 religions, but always slides elegantly over to the other two, when comparisons are in order. Say he is talking about law, and suddenly he's covered all three religion's take on law, in about 20 pages, which is the average length of the few chapters.

    He is additionally quite objective, staying away from both the Islam bashing and Philo-Semitism that is so common in parts of "Western" Academia. I must admit I sometimes doubt his claims, (Jesus Christ as a Jew, and some other issues) but then again, I'm not very "mainstream", so naturally most people will swallow this book whole. That being so, I did quite enjoy the book, and have learned a great deal from it. That he touches on some of the more esoteric sides of the religions, Sufism and whatnot, was also an additional bonus for me. As an introduction to these 3 religions, it serves excellently, and the binding is very sturdy, along with the glossy high quality dust jacket. It is heavily footnoted, and has a large and useful bibliography, that together makes up about 25 % of the book, but entirely justified, given their thorough nature.

    So all in all, I found it hard to decide whether to give it 4 or 5 stars,but the only reason I wouldn't give it 5 is because I'm not really that interested in this subject, and that wouldn't really be fair to the author, so 5 stars to this excellent introduction book.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Academic Review
    This book is actually a little dissappointing for the background of the author, but she approaches it from a general academic point of view, very general and almost dry. She covers the Jews, Christian and Muslim point of history but in a more modern way. She doesn't really cover Abraham's history deeply as well with these three religons as her communication is more from a more academic, discussion type of approach. This is compared to some other books I have looked at that apply and guide one from Abraham's story to how their individual religon applies to it.F.E Peter never really gets that detailed it's more of a top of the water type of approach. If you want more of an opinion or article like discussion of this history, then this is what I believe this is. ... Read more

    20. Jesus and Judaism
    by E. P. Sanders
    Paperback: 444 Pages (1985-05-01)
    list price: US$29.00 -- used & new: US$16.77
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0800620615
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Product Description
    This work takes up two related questions with regard to Jesus: his intention and his relationship to his contemporaries in Judaism. These questions immediately lead to two others: the reason for his death (did his intention involve an opposition to Judaism which led to death?) and the motivating force behind the rise of Christianity (did the split between the Christian movement and Judaism originate in opposition during Jesus' lifetime?). ... Read more

    Customer Reviews (7)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Foundational book for bible studies
    This is one of the books written by E P Sanders that swept biblical studies from the grip of Bultmann and his followers to a new direction. Today it seems strange that so many scholars could, for so long, ignore the fact that Jesus was a Jew.

    E P Sanders, a true historian, very cogently argued that not understanding the culture and beliefs of Jews during Jesus' lifetime was to not be able to grasp the historical Jesus at all. And it was a very good argument.

    In this book, Sanders points out that "the biblical laws seem to have been widely observed" (p 184) since ritual baths were everywhere. The temple was central to belief and to sacrifices (p 64).Purity laws were kept by most people, although most involved "corpse uncleanliness... menstruation, intercourse, and childbirth" (p 182) and not hand washing.

    There is a long discussion on why Jesus overturned tables at the temple. The temple was central to sacrifice, so why be upset at the money-changers who helped the practice of sacrifices?"The obvious answer is that destruction, in turn, looks towards restoration" (p 71).

    There were charges at Jesus' trial about him threatening to overthrow the temple. Even during his crucifixion, Matthew and Mark report people taunting Jesus with promising to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days.

    Sanders investigates the "two questions 1)whether or not a complex of prophetic themes (the gathering of dispersed Israel, the rebuilding of the temple, and the entry of the Gentiles) continued in the post-biblical period; 1)whether or not a word s and gesture indicating the destruction of the temple would imply the expectation of renewal" (p 87).

    5-0 out of 5 stars Jesus followed 2nd Temple Judaism
    Sanders sheds light on the Jewish Jesus; Jesus was creating an eschatological (end of the world) Jewish movement; his execution came from challenging the political authorities (overthrowing the tables in the Temple), and his followers expected his return to restore Israel (which including Gentiles worshiping the God of Israel). If you are looking for a source about Jesus and his Jewishness then I would recommended this book; it shows that Jesus was not in opposition with the Pharisees as he did not transgress any part of the law and that his followers followed Jewish law and kept it after Jesus died.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Superb Model of How to Study the Bible
    'Jesus and Judaism' by E. P. Sanders is a superb model for how to read Christian scriptures in the light of the world of Second Temple Judaism, without a lot of sociological baggage. Sanders is a pure historian, who is looking for how and why things really happened. There is little I can add to the other four current reviews, since I certainly agree entirely with their overall evaluation. My only modest suggestion may be that when one wishes to embark on a study of the gospels, one begins by reading at least a few chapters from this book. Of course, if you are taking on Paul's letters, Sanders has even more important books, such as 'Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People'. This book leaves no doubt on why Sanders has become the most influential writer on New Testament issues in the latter half of the 20th Century.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Just the facts, please
    Sanders is more of a historian than a theologian.He is concerned to uncover the real, historical Jesus.He explains his methodology in some detail.That is a good place to begin, because it enables the reader to evaluate both Sanders' methodology and his sifting of the historical evidence.

    Sanders explicitly bases his reconstruction on the facts of Jesus' life, rather than Jesus' sayings.He is on the cynical end of N.T. scholarship -- he believes that it is impossible in virtually every case to establish the authenticity of Jesus' sayings.However, he believes there is considerable agreement about many of the facts:e.g., that Jesus threatened the destruction of the Temple, that he appointed twelve apostles, and that his followers sought to convert Gentiles.

    Sanders agrees with Schweitzer in setting Jesus' ministry in the context of Jewish eschatology.That is, Jesus believed that the end was at hand:God was about to intervene and create a new order of existence, including a new Temple.At that time, God would appoint Jesus' apostles to rule over Israel.When the end of the current order did not immediately come about, Paul (and other early Christians) set out to convert Gentiles -- a necessary stage in the process leading up to the end.

    On the other hand, Sanders rejects some of the traditional interpretations of Jesus' life and work.In particular, he denies that Jesus was killed for his teaching about law vs. grace.Sanders (who is widely acknowledged as an authority on extra-biblical Jewish literature) argues that all Jews believed in grace, including the Pharisees.If Jesus had brought about the conversion of notorious sinners and offered them forgiveness on condition of repentance, he would have been hailed as a national hero -- not crucified as a heretic.

    Sanders argues that, when the Gospels speak of "sinners", we should take the word at full force.Jesus taught that, in view of the imminent end, wicked people could enter the kingdom without repentance and reformation of life.Thus the Pharisees and other Jews were understandably offended by his practice.

    The value of Sanders' work is:(a) His cynicism leads him to be very careful in his handling of the evidence -- no speculative leaps.(b) His expertise in extra-biblical Jewish literature enables him to refute some of the stereotypical caricatures of Jesus' Jewish opponents -- particularly the Pharisees.Such caricatures are still being expounded in pulpits throughout North America, and Sanders sets the record straight.

    On the other hand, I think Sanders is too cynical.He rejects conclusions which are widely accepted by other scholars.In specific, his opinion that Jesus accepted the wicked without requiring them to repent stretches credulity.

    Nonetheless, this is still a five-star work.A careful reader will learn much, and be considerably challenged.It isn't the last word on the historical Jesus, but it does go some way toward defining the parameters of the debate!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book of Monumental Importance to Biblical Studies
    The arguements of Sanders in this book have marked a decisive point in scholarship after which ignorance concering and derisive stereotyping of 1st century Palestinian Judaism juxtapose to Jesus and primitive Christianity is inexcusable.For this reason, texts written before Sander's work or texts that neglect his study seem to be outdated and obsolete.While some revolts in American scholarship have occurred since this book was written (e.g., Crossan, Borg, and the Jesus Seminar), the foundation of this book have remained firm and unshaken.The primary reason for this is Sander's moderation and erudition.He distinguishes very well between what we can and cannot know about Jesus and is not given to speculation.

    The most powerful result of his book is how he brings to light why in fact Jesus faced opposition and eventually suffered martyrdom.This he does through an articulate examination of Palestinian Judaism in the 1st century and a scathing critique of past scholarship which generally failed at doing this task.

    Recommended for those who are seriously searching for the history of Jesus and his society.Casual readers who do not have much background in this field will be perplexed or overwhelmed. ... Read more

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