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Paperback What Is a Jew Book

ISBN: 068484298X

ISBN13: 9780684842981

What Is a Jew

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Book Overview

With over 400,000 copies sold, What Is a Jew? is the classic guide that answers 100 of the most commonly asked questions about Jewish life and customs. Completely revised and reorganized, this guide to the traditions, beliefs, and practices of Judaism--for both Jews and non-Jews--tackles a wide range of subjects in a question-and-answer format. Ideal for conversion students, interfaith couples, and congregants seeking answers to essential day-to-day...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Excellent book on Judaism

This is the best book I've found that provides an overview of Judaism. Its intention is to inform and provide understanding without needless bias or judgment. I read Harold Kushner's To Life! prior to What is a Jew? and was disappointed. His Conservative bias is obvious and gets in the way of his ability to present an overall understanding of Judaism. I don't get that sense at all with What is a Jew? Rabbi Kertzer and Rabbi Hoffman willingly present all the ways Judaism has come to be interpreted and practiced. They may analyze and draw conclusions, but it is done to help understanding, not to promote their own opinions or to judge others. This book is a refreshing approach to a difficult topic, filled with wisdom and insight.

A very helpful introduction

What I liked most about WHAT IS A JEW? (aside from the somewhat humorous title) is how succinct and well organized it is. It is written mostly in a question and answer format, and just about all the questions a potential convert will have are listed and then answered. This book is also a good introduction for anyone just interested in learning about Judaism. I was impressed with the author's ability to convey the vastness of Judaism; there are so many different braches within the Jewish family. The author really conveys the love he has for his spiritual path, and makes it sound very exciting and interesting.

Every question has been answered!

I loved this book. I am a Reform Jew but I didn't really know what that meant. A friend of mine was curious about the Jewish religion and started asking me basic questions about what Jews believe but I didn't know how to answer. I picked up this book, thinking I would skim it and find her answers. Instead, I read it cover to cover and enjoyed avery minute of it. It was written in a way that was not overwhelming and it answered every question about what Jews believe from the symbolic meaning of the Star of David to Jews' beliefs on homosexuality. There was a short section on the history and each section talked about the beliefs of all different kinds of Jews. All in all a great read! I DEFINITELY recommend it!

Really neat introduction!

Some books on religion give a warm fuzzy feeling - others give a lot of detailed information. This work is definitely in category two! In a question-response format (114 of each), this volume manages to cover almost anything one would want to know about Judaism. Originally written by the late Rabbi Morris N. Kertner, his nephew Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman has updated it. ("What Is a Jew" was first published in 1953, and has gone through three revisions, and countless reprints.) A new feature I found very useful in this revised edition is its transliteration of Hebrew words -- abundant in this work -- as they occur, together with their meanings. The 148 Hebrew (and occasionally Yiddish or Aramaic) terms used throughout the text are brought together in a glossary at the end of the volume, too. ---- Though this book is written from a "middle of the road" Jewish perspective, it carefully points out the differences between the four contemporary major divisions of Judaism (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Reconstructionist schools). "What Is a Jew" also gives fair treatment to the Chasidim (Hassidim), and such historical schools as the Sadducees, Pharisees, Mitnagdim, and others. To give an idea of the range of questions covered in this paperback, here is a brief sample: "Who Were `The Rabbis'?"; "What is Halachah?"; "Is There a Priesthood in Judaism?"; "Do Jews Believe Literally in Satan?"; "According to Judaism, Do Animals Have Rights?"; "What is the Difference Between A Synagogue, a Shul, and A Temple?"; Why Do Some Jews Keep Only One Day of a Holy Day, While Others Keep Two?"; and "What Is the Jewish Attitude Toward Divorce?"; "Does Judaism Accept Converts?", and many other equally interesting topics. ---- I believe that whoever masters the contents of this fascinating volume will be well on his/her way to a fascinating voyage of discovery. Any non-Jew (like myself) who has ever been invited to a Bar Mitzvah, and has come out of the synagogue laden with questions, will find his/her journey out of ignorance a pleasant and rewarding one! This is as good a guide as I have been able to find...

I use this fine book to teach a college course

Morris Kertzer's book has been extensively revised by Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman, an eminent Reform Rabbi who gives fair and faithful treatment to all branches of Judaism in this book. I teach a course in Judaism at a Catholic College and I use this book as a key text. Rabbi Hoffman lucidly explains theology, ethics, customs, traditions, holidays, the Sabbath, Jewish lifecycle events, etc in an easily understood style which is helpful to both Jews and non Jews alike. He also makes a very fair attempt to be non judgmental about the differing views of the various branches of Judaism and, for the most part, represents each of these views fairly. I recommend this book for anyone who wishes to understand Judaism better.
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