The Jewish Religion

How do Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism differ? Is caviar kosher? Who was Maimonides? What is current Jewish thought on Jesus, sex, abortion, feminism, and capital punishment? Spanning from biblical times to the present, The Jewish Religion offers a goldmine of information on Jewish belief and practice, wisdom and culture, history and tradition.
Sweeping in scope and based on impeccable scholarship, this volume’s 750 alphabetical entries range from Aaron to Zweifel to illuminate virtually every facet of the Jewish heritage. For example, the book explains Halakhah and Aggadah, the legal and non-legal sides of Jewish thought; traces the development of the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Movements; discusses Haskalah (the Jewish Enlightenment) and Hasidism; and explores the differences between the Spanish traditions of the Sephardim and the German traditions of the Ashkenazim. It examines the great philosophical questions underlying the Jewish faith; carefully examines Zionism, with its tension between religion and nationalism and its profound implications for the present and the future of Israel; and serves as a marvelous companion to Jewish religious and philosophical literature. Readers will find entries on all the books of the Old Testament–with compelling descriptions of the patriarchs, prophets, and law givers–on the oral and written Torah, on the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmud, and on the Kabbalah. Jacobs examines all the great Jewish thinkers–from Rashi, Akiba, and Judah the Prince, to Maimonides, Spinoza, and Martin Buber–and he describes the thought of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of Hasidism, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, father of the Reform movement, and Theodore Herzl, the originator of modern Zionism. Finally, the book is filled with information on popular customs, rituals, and religious services, covering all the major holidays, providing guidance on prayer and liturgy, and explaining the dietary laws in detail. It even offers step-by-step instructions for conducting the Passover Seder, preparing matzoh, kindling the Hannukah lights, building a sukkah, and much, much more.
Here then is a matchless guide to Jewish religion, history, culture, and thought and a valuable repository of knowledge for both Jews and non-Jews alike.

Jews, God, and Videotape

Engaging media has been an ongoing issue for American Jews, as it has been for other religious communities in the United States, for several generations. Jews, God, and Videotape is a pioneering examination of the impact of new communications technologies and media practices on the religious life of American Jewry over the past century. Shandler’s examples range from early recordings of cantorial music to Hasidic outreach on the Internet. In between he explores mid-twentieth-century ecumenical radio and television broadcasting, video documentation of life cycle rituals, museum displays and tourist practices as means for engaging the Holocaust as a moral touchstone, and the role of mass-produced material culture in Jews’ responses to the American celebration of Christmas.

Shandler argues that the impact of these and other media on American Judaism is varied and extensive: they have challenged the role of clergy and transformed the nature of ritual; facilitated innovations in religious practice and scholarship, as well as efforts to maintain traditional observance and teachings; created venues for outreach, both to enhance relationships with non-Jewish neighbors and to promote greater religiosity among Jews; even redefined the notion of what might constitute a Jewish religious community or spiritual experience. As Jews, God, and Videotape demonstrates, American Jews’ experiences are emblematic of how religious communities’ engagements with new media have become central to defining religiosity in the modern age.


The Kiss of God

The lines of Michael Fishbane’s book trace the spiritual face of Judaism in one of its many appearances. Fishbane explores the quest for spiritual perfection in early rabbinic sources and in Jewish philosophy and mysticism. The “kiss of God,” a symbol for union with God, and the ritual practices—meditation and performance—connected with it are presented.

The book identifies a persistent passion for religious perfection, expressed as the love of God unto death itself. The masters of the tradition cultivated this ideal in all periods, in diverse genres, and in different modes. Rabbinic law and midrash, medieval philosophy and mysticism, public and private ritual all contributed to its development. Rooted in the understanding that the spiritual life requires discipline, the sages set up different ladders of ascension. For some, the Law itself was the means of spiritual growth; for others, more private practices were built upon its foundation. But all agreed that the purification of desire and the perfection of the soul offered the hope of personal salvation. None denied the historical redemption of the nation.


This Is My God

This Is My God is Herman Wouk’s famous introduction to Judaism completely updated and revised with a new chapter, Israel at Forty. A miracle of brevity, it guides readers through the world’s oldest practicing religion with all the power, clarity and wit of Wouk’s celebrated novels.

The Book of Jewish Values

In The Book of Jewish Values, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin has combed the Bible, the Talmud, and the whole spectrum of Judaism’s sacred writings to give us a manual on how to lead a decent, kind, and honest life in a morally complicated world. Telushkin speaks to the major ethical issues of our time, issues that have, of course, been around since the beginning. He offers one or two pages a day of pithy, wise, and easily accessible teachings designed to be put into immediate practice. The range of the book is as broad as life itself:

The first trait to seek in a spouse (Day 17)
When, if ever, lying is permitted (Days 71-73)
Why acting cheerfully is a requirement, not a choice (Day 39)
What children don’t owe their parents (Day 128)
Whether Jews should donate their organs (Day 290)
An effective but expensive technique for curbing your anger (Day 156)
How to raise truthful children (Day 298)
What purchases are always forbidden (Day 3)

In addition, Telushkin raises issues with ethical implications that may surprise you, such as the need to tip those whom you don’t see (Day 109), the right thing to do when you hear an ambulance siren (Day 1), and why wasting time is a sin (Day 15). Whether he is telling us what Jewish tradition has to say about insider trading or about the relationship between employers and employees, he provides fresh inspiration and clear guidance for every day of our lives.

From the Hardcover edition.


Seek My Face

The new Jewish spirituality lies somewhere between God’s elusive presence in our world and our search for authentic language to describe it. Personal journeys seldom have a clear beginning, and they rarely have a definite end. If there is an end to our journey, surely it is one that leads to some measure of wisdom, and thence back to its own beginning. But somewhere along the way, we come to realize that we must know where we have been going, why we have been going. Most of all, we come to understand as best we can the One who sends us on our way. from the Introduction Rabbi Arthur Green leads us on a journey of discovery to seek God, the world, and ourselves. One of the most influential Jewish thinkers of our time, Green has created a roadmap of meaning for our lives in the light of Jewish mysticism, using the Hebrew letters that make up the divine name: Yod Reality at the beginning. God as the oneness of being at the outset, before it unfolds into our universe. Heh Creation and God s presence in the world. A renewed faith in God as Creator has powerful implications for us today. Vav Revelation, the central faith claim of Judaism and the claim it makes on our lives. Heh Redemption and our return to God through the life of Torah and by participating in the ongoing repair of the world. A personal and honest framework of understanding for the seeker, this revised and updated edition of a classic sheds new light on our search for the divine presence in our everyday lives.”