In 1988, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin undertook a mission to heal "Jewish ignorance," an affliction whose symptoms include the ability to name the three components of the Trinity, coupled with an inability to explain mitzvah
. Telushkin's contribution to the cure is his wide-ranging, entertaining Jewish Literacy
. First published in 1991, Jewish Literacy
contains almost 350 entries on subjects ranging from the Ten Commandments to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
. Entries are numbered (for easy, encyclopedia-style reference) and organized topically (to smooth the experience of reading each page straight through). And the revised edition contains several new entries (including articles about the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the vice-presidential nomination of Joseph Lieberman) as well as numerous corrections, enlargements, and updates. One might expect Rabbi Telushkin's project of inspiring Jewish literacy to be overly earnest, but the author's understated wit adds considerable levity to most entries. The entry on "Sodom and Gomorrah," for instance, ends this way: "A number of years ago, some Israeli promoters of tourism suggested transforming the modern city of Sodom into a tourist haven with casinos, nightclubs, and even strip shows. The Chief Rabbinate in Israel sharply demurred, warning that there was nothing to prevent God from destroying the city a second time. The plan was dropped." --Michael Joseph Gross
From Library Journal
Traditionalist Rabbi Telushkin ( The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism) presents 364 brief explanations of the most important concepts and topics concerning Judaism, Jews, and their history and culture. Each entry runs from one to three pages in length. Basic religious terms, ethics, historical events, religious texts, Jewish personalities, and more are covered in a lively, popular style. A useful feature is that each entry is followed by a short bibliography of further readings on the subject. Despite the occasional superficiality of its coverage, this book is a useful introductory course for Jewish and non-Jewish "illiterates" from teenagers on up. A useful addition for general Judaica collections.- Robert A. Silver, Shaker Heights P.L ., Ohio
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.