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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Judaism. 2nd Edition (Idiot's Guides) Paperback – September 2, 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

You're no idiot, of course. You know that in the Jewish religion Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement and that Saturday, known as the Sabbath, is the day of rest. But when it comes to understanding Jewish traditions, rituals, prayers, and holidays, you feel like you're parting and crossing the Red Sea without God's help. Don't put your life preserver on just yet! The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Judaism, written in a warm, conversational style by Rabbi Benjamin Blech, is a fun and easy-to-understand primer to every aspect of this ancient faith. In this Complete Idiot's Guide, Rabbi Blech gives you: --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Rabbi Benjamin Blech, a tenth-generation rabbi, is a nationally-recognized educator, religious leader, author, and lecturer. He is the author of seven books, including The Complete Idiot's Guide(r) to Jewish History and Culture and The Complete Idiot's Guide(r) to Learning Yiddish, as well as associate professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University in New York City and Rabbi Emeritus of Young Israel of Oceanside congregation in Oceanside, New York.
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Product Details

  • Series: Idiot's Guides
  • Paperback: 433 pages
  • Publisher: ALPHA; 2 edition (September 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159257131X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592571314
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As soon as I discovered this book, I immediately linked it to my homepage, as well as my Jewish resource menus and online FAQs. It fills a very real need for a user-friendly basic Judaism book that is "accessible" to the rank beginner, and I find myself recommending it a LOT to web surfers and readers of my own books who email me with their "Judaism 101" questions.
This book is much, much better than Steinberg's old standby, "Basic Judaism," which is just too much stuffy academe for the average reader of today. Rabbi Blech's use of the familiar 'Idiot's Guide" format is non-threatening, and even uses some humor to make learning about Judaism easy and fun!
I recommend this book to non-Jews who want the basics, to Jews who need to brush up on what they might have missed as kids in Hebrew school, and especially to school teachers and librarians as a quick reference to those common questions about what Jews believe in, what happens in a synagogue service, and "Why do they do that...?"
Thank you, Rabbi Blech, for a great educational resource!
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Format: Paperback
Rabbi Blech has once again succeeded in combining thousands of years of traditions and dozens of scholars' thoughts into a work that the average person can understand and appreciate. For the first time, one can gain a broad understanding of those beliefs so basic to Judaism. As well as providing a very well detailed summary of Jewish thought, Blech's book is entertaining, well balanced, and engaging.
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Format: Paperback
This book really opened my eyes to why I love Judaism so much and why I am so proud to be a Jew. The way Rabbi Ben Blech writes is so delightful, clear, and easy-to-read. He doesn't just explain what Jews do and believe, he also explains and clarifies *why* certain rituals and customs exist. Since reading this book, I have begun to attend synagogue (I never did before), I am going to classes with the Rabbi to learn more, and I am reading more books about Judaism (including my Chumash) etc. I love the way it goes through an entire person's life from birth to death, from a Jewish perspective, explaining what these stages of life mean to a Jew. I also like the way he goes through all the rooms in a person's home and explains how to run a jewish household/family. And of course, his excellent explanations about the Jewish holydays are superb! This book has really changed my life! I highly recommend this book to all Jews in all of the world and any non-Jew that is interested in learning about Judaism.
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Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book. I've read it several times, trying to memorize every word of it. It is enjoyable to read, with humorous anecdotes and stories to explain Biblical stories. I am a Catholic, and this book has had an impact on my life. It has actually made me consider converting. This book is enjoyable to both Jews and gentiles alike.
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Format: Paperback
I picked up this book during Chanukah this year, because I wanted to brush up on what actually Chanukah was. Yeah, I know the dreidel song... but that's about it. As a non-Jew who classifies herself as a monotheist, I've recently been studying Islam for the past five or so years. Now, I'm exploring the father of Islam (and Christianity), Judaism. It amazes me to see the similarities--although as Islam comes from Judaism, perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised. Anyway, I loved this book. Rabbi Blech's style is extremely easy to read... I actually read through the book in one sitting. Each little bit made me hungry for more, and the next thing I knew it was 3:30 a.m. and I was finishing the book. I would recommend this book to people of all faiths... Jews, who need to brush up their own knowledge of their faith; Christians, who perhaps want to understand more about Christianity's roots as well as what Jesus believed; and Muslims, who may benefit from realizing the similarities in the people who worship the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In studying this book, I became convinced that Islam and Judaism are much more similar than is Christianity--but that's just my own opinion. Well, I'm off to buy more of Rabbi Blech's books. Buy this book, you'll enjoy it... I promise.
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Format: Paperback
I just moved to the Hollywood area and some of my new friends wanted to know the why's and how's about being Jewish. I have been Jewish my whole life and I did not know the answers to there hard "why" questions. So I found this book at the book store and have found it easy to use and show people the "why's and how's" of being Jewish. The non-Jewish people I have showed this book to loved it and found it helpful.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a comprehensive, easy to read and understand, guide to Judaism. I think it is both a valuable tool for someone that is Jewish, and to remind them of the beauty and practices of the religion, but also great for someone like me, who read this book not knowing anything at all about Judaism. I had many misconceptions about this religion and it was definately an educational experience. I can now say I know what a mitzvah, a tallit and a kiddish are! This is a complex, yet lovely religion and Rabbi Benjamin Blech makes it so easy to understand. He is also very funny, with cute little jokes throughout the book.

The only thing I wished, although he did touch on briefly, is the subject of reform Judaism. He did write the book from the position of being a liberal Orthodox Rabbi, but with the fast growing numbers of reform Judaism, I would have liked to see a little more on that subject. But all in all it was a great read. To be able to say that about a religious book to a religion that I don't follow, is to say that it was very well written because night after night I couldn't put it down.
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