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Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs & Rituals Paperback – Sep 1 2001


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Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs & Rituals + Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism and for their Family and Friends + Living A Jewish Life Updated And Revised Edition: Jewish Traditions, Customs, and Values for Today's Families
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books (Sept. 1 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671034812
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671034818
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 4.1 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 590 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #176,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Amazon

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Julie Lovisa on April 24 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am not new to Judaism, but I have a lot to learn...actually, that is an understatement...I have mountains to learn! Essential Judaism is the one book that all people interested in Judaism, whether just in passing, as a potential convert, or as an actual Jew, should own. You will learn about all phases of Jewish life...from prayer, festivals, and how to live Jewishly, to Torah, mysticism, and philosophy. The narrative is very in-depth for such short overviews of all the various subjects and there are also sidebars to further elaborate on some things, including a listing of the entire 613 mitvot from the Torah. This book has been a valuable learning tool for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Seth Rogovoy on March 29 2000
Format: Hardcover
Over the last few years I've read my way through many of the popular "how-to"s and primers of Jewish literacy, books by Telushkin, Donin and Dosick, for example.
George Robinson's Essential Judaism is by far the best of the lot. Subtitled "A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs, and Rituals," the book is indeed that and a lot more.
In the course of its 650 pages, the book lucidly explores Jewish worship and practice, sacred literature (Torah, Talmud, other rabbinical works), Kabbalah and mysticism, holidays, life cycle events, dietary laws, and Jewish history and denominationalism.
The treatment Robinson gives such topics as the prayer service, the blessings of daily life, and the evolution of contemporary Judaism is surprisingly deep for a work of this kind.
In particular, his chapters on the mitzvot ("Living a Jewish Life") and non-Rabbinic Jewish thought ("The Philosophers: The Continuing Evolution of Jewish Thought"), stand out not only for their all-around comprehensiveness, but also for their originality of ideas and presentation.
Essential Judaism is a well-organized and well-indexed book that can be enjoyed read from beginning to end, dipped into arbitrarily, and kept nearby as a handy reference. In just the month or so I've had it, I've already had several occasions to use it in this last manner, to answer questions or explain references I've stumbled over in other books, and it hasn't failed me yet.
Most books like this are written by rabbis, and some have particular agendas, ideological or religious.
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Format: Paperback
Yes, George Robinson was sensational in his "Essential Judaism". I felt that air of classical elevation as I read through the pages.
From beliefs to customs; rituals to tradition, no book has handled it so well in a single compendium. Indeed, very few books possess the arresting aura that made this one so complete. All aspects, as well as all the factors affecting the religion were treated in details. The explanatory methodology employed throughout the chapters testified that both Jews and non-Jews were thought of, during the compilation of the book.
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Format: Hardcover
Yes, George Robinson was sensational in his "Essential Judaism". I felt that air of classical elevation as I read through the pages.
From beliefs to customs; rituals to tradition, no book has handled it so well in a single compendium. Indeed, very few books possess the arresting aura that made this one so complete. All aspects, as well as all the factors affecting the religion were treated in details. The explanatory methodology employed throughout the chapters testified that both Jews and non-Jews were thought of, during the compilation of the book.
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Format: Paperback
This is by far the best book about Judaism that I have ever read. It carefully gives details on all aspects of Jewish life in a simple, page-turning way. If you are spiritually searching I highly recommend this book. I also recommend this book to any person who has just converted to Judaism and is having a hard time remembering the many prayers and blessings. If you have any questions about Judaism turn to this book, you will find the answers. G-d bless you.
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By A Customer on June 22 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a great book. Anyone interested in Judaism should read it. It has an answer for anything that you may have a question about. The author has done a great job of clearly explaining the major points of Judaism. It's impossible to sum up all the aspects of the religion in one volume, but this book has done a great job of it. You may also want to get THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING JUDAISM by Benjamin Blech.
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