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.
Ten years ago, Robinson entered a Reform synagogue for the first time since adolescence. He became an active congregant, but he discovered in his reincorporation of certain rituals and practices that he "was often baffled" by what occurred in the synagogue. This expansive tome attempts to provide the essentials of Judaism for novices, outsiders and those who, like Robinson, rediscovered their heritage as adults. It's an excellent introductory resource, vast but accessibly organized. Robinson first covers the most ritually significant Jewish prayers and walks the reader through a typical Shabbat service. He presents the basic facts about holidays and the Jewish calendar, then explores Jewish life-cycle rituals from bris to burial and includes a catch-all chapter on other practices such as Kashrut. By beginning with Jewish practice, rather than history or law, Robinson centers the core of Judaism in everyday life. The book's second half is a whirlwind tour of Torah and Talmud, Kabbalah and Jewish philosophers, with a key explanatory chapter on historical developments such as Hasidism and Zionism. Notably absent is the history of the Holocaust and the founding of Israel; Robinson notes that the Judaica sections of most bookstores already overflow with such historical information, and he explores instead the scope of Jews' reactions to those events. This is a valuable, sensitive one-volume guide to Jewish practice. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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August 27, 2001
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