A recent post on myjewishlearning.com recommended ten “great introduction to Judaism” books. I’m always looking for books like this, so I was very interested, and in fact the recommendations look good. Let’s take a look at them, and I’ll add a few favourites of my own as well. These are the books that would be most useful for someone who says, I don’t know very much about Judaism and would like to know more. Can you suggest a book? Here they are, first the ones from myjewishlearning:
- Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs and Rituals (Updated in 2016) by George Robinson
- Judaism’s 10 Best Ideas: A Brief Guide for Seekers (2014) by Arthur Green
- Living Judaism: The Complete Guide to Jewish Belief, Tradition and Practice (Reprinted in 2010) by Wayne Dosic
- Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know about the Jewish Religion, Its People and Its History (Updated in 2008) by Joseph Telushkin
- Living a Jewish Life: Jewish Traditions, Customs and Values for Today’s Families (Updated in 2007) by Anita Diamant
- A Book of Life: Embracing Judaism as a Spiritual Practice (2006) by Michael Strassfeld
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Judaism (Updated in 2003) by Benjamin Blech
- It’s a Mitzvah: Step-By-Step to Jewish Living (1995) by Bradley Shavit Artson
- To Life! A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking (1994) by Harold Kushner
- The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays (1993) by Irving Greenberg
I’m familiar some of the authors. I would be very interested in anything Arthur Green wanted to say about his topic. I’d be curious to know more of what Wayne Dosick writes about Jewish belief, tradition and practice.
Anita Diamant and Michael Strassfeld are both well-known and respected commentators on modern Jewish living, and Harold Kushner and Irving Greenberg are also important figures. I don’t know the other writers, but all in all, I would add this list to my suggestions of what to read for people who are beginning their Jewish journey.
I would add a few books as well.
- Liberal Judaism: A Judaism for the Twenty-First Century, by Pete Tobias; this is a publication of Liberal Judaism, and gives a good sense of what our movement has to oﬀer.
- Standing Again At Sinai, by Judith Plaskow; it’s from the 1990’s but still reads excitingly well and is a founding text in Jewish feminist theology
- Back to the Sources, by Barry Holtz; for those who like to read more deeply but don’t have Hebrew skills, this book is a collection of essays on the important source books of Judaism – Bible, Talmud, Midrash, prayer book, and so forth – each one by an expert in the field. It appeared in the 1980’s and is still worthwhile.
- Jewish Living: A Guide to Contemporary Reform Practice, by Mark Washofsky; this book is from the American perspective, but a useful guide from an important figure in American Reform Judaism.
Do you have books that you would recommend or that were meaningful for you? Let me know!
Cantor Gershon Silins