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Exploring Jewish Tradition: A Transliterated Guide to Everyday Practice and Observance Hardcover – March 13, 2001

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Exploring Jewish Tradition, by Rabbi Abraham B. Witty and Rachel J. Witty, is not a particularly original project. There are already dozens of general and specialized guidebooks covering the territory that the Wittys explore here. What sets this one apart, however, is its emphasis on the language of Judaism--the vocabulary and idioms of Jewish traditions. Each of 10 chapters (covering Torah, synagogue ritual, prayer, the Jewish calendar, the Sabbath, the High Holidays, the Pilgrimage Festivals, the minor festivals, the Jewish life cycle, and "special words and phrases used in the day-to-day Jewish experience") is strictly organized into numbered sections exploring the meaning of various terms, with frequent and often lengthy allusions to the Torah, the Talmud, and other central Jewish texts. Each chapter ends with a cross-referenced listing of new words that have appeared in the chapter; and the back of the book provides a complete vocabulary and subject index. With these features, Exploring Jewish Tradition is structured as an exploration of the meaning of Jewish language. It's an ingenious and apt device for introducing the major elements of modern Judaism. For readers who seek a more historical, theological, or philosophical orientation to Jewish tradition, this may not be the best choice. But for those whose understanding is best structured by the meanings of words, it's a perfect fit. --Michael Joseph Gross

From Publishers Weekly

Not every Jew knows how to "be Jewish," but the Wittys, a rabbi-writer team, intend to remedy that lack. In this comprehensive primer of Jewish precepts and practices, they leave no custom unexplained, no term undefined. Their eye for detail enriches this easy-to-read reference to the complexities of traditional Jewish observance, with chapters on Torah; the synagogue and its artifacts; prayer and Jewish liturgy; the Jewish calendar; the Sabbath; the holidays; the life cycle; and special words and phrases used in everyday Jewish life. In addition to instructions for occasions and situations common to Jewish life, they include information not readily available in other guides, from the 40 categories of work prohibited on the Sabbath to a 10-year calendar for the first days of all the holidays. Hebrew words and phrases are written in transliteration and listed alphabetically at the end of each chapter. Boxed quotes easily identify material from biblical, rabbinic and liturgical sources (but often there are so many that they interrupt the flow of the narrative). The authors' focus on the practicalities of observance sometimes leaves the answers to deeper questions distilled into brief phrases: What is the purpose of a Jew's life? "To get closer to God and... to attain spiritual perfection." Nevertheless, this reference has great value to those who want to introduce Jewish traditions into their homes or would like to learn more about Judaism.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (March 13, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385494548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385494540
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,530,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I stumbled across this great new handbook for jewish living at the public library. It is so useful I have to have my own copy. I found the layout and language to be very user friendly. I prefer this book to "How to be a jew". The Witty's book is organized in a way that allows the reader to browse efficiently. They take each topic and then break it down further with subheadings in the same way an outline is. The Witty's include personal anecdotes to bring life to the topics they are discussing. After reading it, I have been inspired to work toward leading a more Torah true life. The Witty's write from an orthodox perspective.
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Format: Hardcover
Exploring Jewish Tradition is a priceless book for someone contemplating Orthodox conversion or desiring to deepen their everyday observance. Absolutely priceless. If you are curious about Judaism, remember this book is only dealing with Orthodox Judaism. There are many customs observed in any given community which are treated as law, yet are not a part of Judaism as a whole, therefore not covered here. This is the very best substitute if you can't find a Rabbi to teach you with the exception of the Talmud alone. This is the ONLY book I'd recommend for one seeking a conversion to Rabbinic Judaism. (If you are a Karaite you should read this book and dispell some of the misconceptions about Rabbinic Judaism.) The book is 540 pages of topics such as What is Torah?, The Synagogue, Prayer and Jewish Liturgy, The Jewish Calendar, The Sabbath, The Days of Awe, Pilgrimage Festivals, Minor Festivals and Fast Days, and the Jewish Life Cycle. For every topic passages are given from the Torah or sages, which makes easy reading on a subject. There are at times many passages sited but not all possible references are given. Hebrew words are introduced but only transliterated words, sadly, no Hebrew letters. There are even Jewish recipies found on a page or two. Enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
If you want to buy one overall detailed (but not overwhelming) introduction to traditional Jewish practice and thought, this would be a very good choice. It covers the basic topics in enough depth to give a good basis for doing further inquiry if desired but doesn't talk down to the reader.

One advantage to this book is the transliteration, which lets readers new to Judaism/Jewish thought & practice focus on the ideas rather than struggling to read a new language.
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