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Hardcover Jewish Literacy : The Most Important Things to Know about the Jewish Religion, Its People, and Its History Book

ISBN: 0688085067

ISBN13: 9780688085063

Jewish Literacy : The Most Important Things to Know about the Jewish Religion, Its People, and Its History

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

A basic reference work on Judaism discusses the Bible, the Talmud, and other writings; Jewish history; beliefs and rituals; and the Jewish calendar, holidays, and life-cycle ceremonies.

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

Almost Wonderful

The book is incredibly informative and well laid out, but I ordered it in the condition “like new”, and it’s filled with highlights, it smells musty, it has stains, and the dust cover and some of the pages are torn. I’m very disappointed in the condition of the book, but not the book itself.

A groundwork for understanding

This encyclopedic tome is wonderfully readable, filled with fascinating insights for Jews and non-Jews. It's not a book to read in one sitting, but it is written so clearly and enjoyably that I have found myself picking it up frequently, reading through a half-dozen entries, and have gradually worked my way through the book.One of the things I like most about the book is how it mixes the familiar and unfamiliar; covering topics that I think I know about, confirming some of my recollection but pushing me to understand things in new ways. For example, in the discussion about the ten commandments, Telushkin discusses the significance of not taking god's name in vain -- he points out that this is generally misinterpreted. He posits that the appropriate interpretation is that the "shall not" refers to acting in the name of god when one is doing something ungodly (i.e. doing bad things while claiming to be a representative of god). This is, in a sense, "ranked" as worse than murder. I thought this was very eye-opening.I've found the combination of history, biography, religious studies, and Jewish trivia to be very good reading. Numerous times I've read a section and turned to my fiance with a "you've got to read this." My understanding of Judaism is definitely better for the reading, particularly Judaism in the context of a mostly Christian society. I highly recommend this book.(By the way, I bought this very cheaply in the discount section of a local bookstore, so you may want to look around before making your purchase. But it would be worth the full price, even if you can't find it for less.)

Great reference book- a must

This is a truely wonderful book. It is a great reference work with information about just about anything Jewish you can think of yet it is a good read. Most reference books are very dry (how interesting can a several paragraph entry about a topic be) yet as with everything he writes Rabbi Telushkin makes this a very interesting book.It is a must for non-Jews and Jews who aren't well educated in Judaism who want to know more. It has entries on scores of topics to give a short overview of most of the important people, events and ideas for Judaism. Even for educated Jews this can be a good reference work, and it is an enjoyable read.Rabbi Telushkin is a Modern Orthodox rabbi who studied under some of the greatest minds in late 20th century Orthodox Judaism (at Yeshiva University) so he knows his subject. However, he is a liberal minded Orthodox Jew who treats the liberal movements in Judaism in quite a fair, balanced and non-judgemental manner. He never talks down to you when you read no matter what you previous knowlege of the subject or point of view.

First of several books in this format

Through a series of short entries, Rabbi Telushkin explores hundreds of issues in Jewish religion, culture, law etc. This book makes a study of Judaism accessable to people who have little background. A major caveat is that when discussing halacha (Jewish law), this book is a very good guide but is not authoritative. The authorities are the original sources and time honored commentaries on these sources. Nonetheless, in this first of many books in this format, Rabbi Telushkin provides more than a mere overview of Judaism .. he actually provides a fair amount of depth. This book can be read through from cover to cover as part of a systematic study of basic Judaism or it can be used as a reference to look up specific information. I recommend this book, even to those who are already well versed in judaism.

Judaism 101 -- excellent for those considering conversion

This book contains approximately three hundred one to three page entries on almost every aspect of Jewish culture, religion, and history. The entries are further subdivided into related chapters: the Torah, Biblical Judaism, the Roman Era, medieval european Judaism, American Jewery, Soviet Jewery, Antisemitism, Life Cycle events, Jewish Holidays, The State of Israel, and others.J.L. is encyclopedic in scope, but the entries have a more familiar feel to them, in part due to Teluskin's own personal anecdotes that are found in many of the entries. This makes the reader feel like he is not reading an academic text, but rather listening to a friend or family member share his accumulated knowledge and wisdom.I think most Jews will find a lot that they didn't know, or had forgotten, within these pages. For those who are considering conversion, this is a wonderful book to read cover to cover, because it exposes the reader to a full cross section of Judaism.

Perfect balance accessible yet packed with info

I've been looking in vain for the right balance for years. So many "catch-up" books on Judaism are filled with abstrusse, over-complicated talmudic esoterica that made no sense. And on the other hand, many of the books aimed at people with less learning in Judaism were pitched too low, they assumed no knowledge whatsoever - they'd take pages and pages to explain that passover was about the exodus from Egypt, and you'd learn very little else. This book, on the other hand, is a marvel. It's filled with memorable quotes, and perceptive and balanced commentary. It's a great read, too - Rabbi Telushkin is a natural writer (has several works of fiction under his belt). For the first time, I feel I've come away from one of these books actually REMEMBERING and UNDERSTANDING large chunks of the history and philosophy it traverses. I'm very greatful, because I've been through about fifteen books in the past that either left me bored out of my mind or lost and frustrated or just feeling blank! Thanks Rabbi Telushkin!
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