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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.
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.
If you are not a Jew, I highly recommend this book as a primer which will describe many of the customs, thought, and ritual of the Jewish faith. Read morePublished on Sept. 23 2002 by SmackusMaximus
This book's title purports the book to be "complete" guide. This is an impossibility but this is a good "summary" guide to Judaism. Good but average.Published on Jan. 22 2002 by D. E. W. Turner
Other books just give you an overview, but this book provides specifics and details. For example, other books about Judaism tell you that there are 613 mitzvot, but this author... Read morePublished on Nov. 20 2001
For those seeking a book that clearly explains and clarifies topics pertaining to the Jewish religion/culture, this is the book. Read morePublished on Sept. 6 2000