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Basic Judaism (Harvest Book.) Paperback – March 17, 1965

4.3 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Milton Steinberg was an American rabbi, philosopher, theologian and author.

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Product Details

  • Series: Harvest Book.
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (March 17, 1965)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156106981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156106986
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Back in the 'Eighties, I found myself teaching Chaim Potok's "The
Chosen" to a Year 12 class, a system-shock, since I was, by then,
as school librarian, largely free from classroom duties. But it was a
book I liked, and the best book, by far, on that year's required
reading list, and the English Coordinator, the class teacher, had
declared himself an avid antisemetic and thus unwilling to add the
text to his repertoire..though quite willing to allow ME to
"borrow" his class to demonstrate the book's worth.And so I
came to research Judaism the first time..

The second thrust toward
Judaic enlightenment was differently inspired, prompted, in fact, by a
stroll around New Orleans with a Jewish met-on-the- internet-friend
from New York, with me miserably aware that I was registering only a
fraction of his conversational vocabulary (and that several paragraphs
behind). And it seemed to me that if so obviously intelligent a man
could find meaning in Judaism, perhaps the faith,and its inherent
disciplines, were worth a second look..

But where to look
first?
Other Jewish friends proffered advice.
Herman Wouk's
"This Is My God" was recommended.

"Lightweight!" scoffed my New York friend."Pap for the
masses!You would do better just asking ME!"

But I wanted to
input some other, more openminded ideas, and tried Amazon Books.
Read more ›
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There are two things one should know about this book. One, (as the author points out) this book "is a book about the Jewish religion - not about Jews or Jewish problems, or Jewish culture, or Zionism, but about those beliefs, ideals, and practices which make up the historic Jewish faith." Two, it is indeed - very - basic. Perhaps my thirst for detail keeps me from appreciating this short a summary. I found MUCH more information in three hours on the Internet than turns up here.... Perhaps the book suffers because the author is trying to span the breadth of Judaism, from Reform to Orthodox, in one volume.... On a positive note, Rabbi Steinberg does not beat about the bush - to give one example. he straightforwardly describes the differences between (the various forms of) Christianity and Judaism. His views on St. Paul are "challenging". Christians may not like his judgments, but I thought many of them seem quite on-target. On the negative side, do not expect from this volume a listing of the 613 Jewish commandments (though they are mentioned). Do not expect any description of the Jewish lunar calendar, or any listing of the months. Do not expect any description of the Hebrew language. Do not expect any detailed description of the liturgy of the Shabbat service. I could forgive much of this (since the book is only 172 pages long) except for the fact the author is verbose - especially in the first half of the book. (Incidentally, be aware that "Basic Judaism" lacks all of the following: a bibliography, a glossary, any appendices, and an index!) Though I found this a pleasant read, I wouldn't use it as a starting point for any in-depth study of Judaism.
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By A Customer on February 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a basic introduction for people who either want an overall review of the basics or for people about whom it can't be assumed they know even the basics, like me. Rabbi Steinberg's best quality is his ability to break down and pick apart the basics and his ability to write with extraordinary conciseness. I never felt he was talking down to me, but his handle of English for explaining the complex theological and philosophical concepts was truly remarkable. He also makes a point of drawing out the differences among Jews about Judaism, frequently contrasting "traditionalists" with "modernists". I can't imagine I could have chosen a better book for getting the concept of Judaism. There probably are better books to get, though, if you are looking for a book about how to live as a Jew. The book is obviously very pro-Jewish and he seems usually to give the modernists the better slant without being disrespectful to tradition. If you just want to know what Judaism is, I can definitely recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
For those looking for an in-depth analysis of one of the world's oldest religions, you're in the wrong place. But for anyone looking to gain a basic understanding of the tenets of Judaism would be unlikely to do better than this work.
Rabbi Steinberg lays out who the Jews are, what Judaism is, and some of the various interpretations of the faith using clear, concise language and a well-laid out chapter structure that walks the reader through the history and conceptions of Judaism as it has grown over the centuries. Although the book does not go into great depth in any one topic, the scope of the book gives the reader a fascinating perspective on an often misunderstood religion.
A reader who knows little of Judaism may or may not finish this book with a new respect for Judaism, but it will certainly ensure that the reader leaves it with a much greater understanding of it. Required reading for any hoping to gain some understanding of a the great religion that begat Christianity and Islam.
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