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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2001
When it comes to Jewish history and culture you can't be too educated. I found this Complete Idiot's Guide very informative. This funny book contains an AMAZING amount of facts. It starts from Abraham and goes all the way to the present. It also covers a huge geographical space. The book contains historical sketches of Jewish communities all over the world: from South America and New Zealand to Sweden and Denmark. The part about culture is also very interesting. This chapter is packed with biographical sketches of writers, actors and scientists "...Wow, did you know HE was Jewish too?...". Sometimes the author is a being a bit simplistic. You feel like reading a bedtime story about the bad guys and the good guys. On the other hand, the Rabbi's sense of humor is great, so I was never bored.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 1999
As someone always interested in Jewish history and culture, and about to be married to a Jew, I found this book to be a fabulous springboard to other more in-depth explainations. The overviews of Jewish history and concepts are brief, but provide an excellent background for beginners who want to do more reading on this fascinating subject. My only complaint is that this book was published by the "Idiot's Guide," a derogatory title that will surely turn off some readers. This is not a book for idiots.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 1999
This book is a gem!In a concise, practical, funny way, it gives a non-jew some answers to some very pertinent questions. I enjoyed it tremendously and I recommend it even to Jews who cannot really remember the specific of their Hebrew School days. It is a good start to familiarise one self to Judaism. Congratulations on a book well written.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2000
Rabbi, don't let anyone tell you the title of this book is wrong...I'm telling you, it's what made me buy it. See, I asked a man a few questions at a convention about Jewish history, and I think the poor man thought I was trying to convert him--to what, I'm not sure. He wasn't happy with me, and I got no answers. Feeling like a, well, idiot...imagine how happy I was to find your book. I got the answers to my questions halfway through your book, but you wrote the book so well I coudln't stop reading. It was quite an education. I simply had no idea of the amount of anti-Semitism the Jewish people have had to endure, practically since their existence.
The book was written like we were having a conversation, and the way it was laid out was terrific...the chapter highlights at the beginning and end of the chapters were great memory tools. Though at times you seemed a bit cheeky with all the "innovations" and accomplishments, I figured hey, who isn't a littly cheeky when it comes to family. The only part I'd armwrestle you over is your take on the New Testament text: the verse in I Timothy 6 doesn't say (like everybody thinks it does--you're not alone) that "money is the root of all evil." It says the "love" of money is the root of "all kinds" of evil. But hey--why should I expect you to quote perfectly a text most Christians probably couldn't? Come to think of it, and this is tragic, all of the anti-Semitism belonging to Christions would be non-existent if those "Christians" would get their fannies in gear and camp on these words, penned by the same man who penned the verse in Timothy: "Respect what is right in the sight of all men." You read it right--ALL men. I'll bet if I looked that up in the Greek the word "all" would mean, ahem, all. (You'll find that little gem, by the way, in Romans 12:17. Whip it out the next time some yahoo "Christian" makes a remark. By the way, I'm a Christian so I can get down and dirty with my own.)
Rabbi Blech, yours was a very sobering, very thought-provoking, very enlightening book. Like the New Testament, this book should be required reading for Christians. Maybe a required viewing of "Schindler's List" wouldn't kill them either. (These are great ideas, eh? Between you and me Tikun Olam would be a done deal...but we'd have to rephrase the word "required." I don't think that would fly.) Anyway, thanks for a great book. Shalom to you too.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2003
Rabbi Blech does a wonderful job in presenting an accurate and informative view of the history of Judaism. This book has so much information it may take you two reads to absorb it all -- but that's okay because the book is funny and amusing. You will never be bored reading this. This book is valuable to Jews wishing to learn about their history and to non-Jews wishing to gain a closer look at the history and culture of the Jewish people. This book will not disapoint.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 1999
Rabbi Blech has written a book that is both entertaining and informative. Most people have trouble learning or remembering history because it's presented in such a dry boring manner. This book overcomes that limitation and presents thousands of years of history in an easy to read and enjoyable style. The author also adds many insightful concepts and anecdotes along the way.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2003
As a High School student, I mostly feel I get more then enough lessons of History a week, though it does give me a chance to catch up on sleep. I picked up this book in order to help me write a Paper, and didn't stop reading it till the end even though I didn't need all of it. Written with humor and wit, this book conveys the essence of the Jewish People and enables you to look at it both objectivly and subjectively. The book gives you the reasons for every historical event and not just the sequence of events. For me, it gave history and new light, and I noticed that the reasons cited for many of the historical events actually apply today as well, though with different actions as the result. As they say, History does indeed repeat itself! Great job, Rabbi! I wish this author would share his wit and knowlage in many other subjects as he is the easiest way to learn!
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
A previous reviewer wrote, "it's almost vulgar to see such a noble race unashamedly trumpeting their achievements."
I'm curious... if WE don't trumpet our achievements, who's going to? Or perhaps this reviewer only likes Jews when we're ashamed of all we've managed to accomplish in a few short centuries of freedom?
This book thrillingly encapsulates millennia of what could too easily degenerate into the longest history lesson of anyone's life. It's a great introduction -- interspersed with humour, cute pictures, and "trivia" tidbits like the rest of the "Complete Idiot's" books -- to a complicated and difficult subject.
Highly recommended for anybody, Jewish or otherwise, who prefers Jews when we're "out and proud!"
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2001
It's rare to find a book in English in a mainstream venue that doesn't skew or distort Yiddishkeit. This one is accurate and good. A Kiddush HaShem.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2000
Wonderful! I am jewish by birth, but was never exposed to the culture as a child. This wonderful book has sparked my interest to learn more about "my people". It explains not only what happened but puts things into a historical perspective so that you can understand the political climate of the time and so understand why certain things happened. It even helps one understand the present conflict in the middle east. It explains so much that I just didn't know. I was so fasinated that I have planned a trip to Israel this fall to continue to explore my heritage. By all means, read this book.
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