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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring perspective
Written from a Biblical perspective, Judaism it is the eminently readable, astonishingly inspired book about Judaism, the religion, which was the beginning of monotheism and foundation of other religions. Dr. Gelernter presents it not just as a religious perspective but as a philosophy of living, therefore, the subtitle, "A Way of Being."

His first major...
Published on December 10, 2009 by Harold Lindy

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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe not for me
Let's be candid. I'm a Christian and a gentile. I read the book to learn more about Judaism. For that purpose I likely picked the wrong book. Gelernter didn't write the book for me. He wrote it to expound on the beauties of an orthodox life, and (to borrow his imagery) sound a shofar, calling the less faithful home. He develops four themes: 1) Separation of the...
Published on May 10, 2010 by Daboomer


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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring perspective, December 10, 2009
This review is from: Judaism: A Way of Being (Hardcover)
Written from a Biblical perspective, Judaism it is the eminently readable, astonishingly inspired book about Judaism, the religion, which was the beginning of monotheism and foundation of other religions. Dr. Gelernter presents it not just as a religious perspective but as a philosophy of living, therefore, the subtitle, "A Way of Being."

His first major topic, separations, is in so many ways the essence of the Old Testament. I have always thought of separations quite literally: In Creation, each day was devoted to a separate task, and then the time of work was separated by the Sabbath, a day of rest; one birthday separates a child from adult responsibilities; the time for atonement concludes with a final day and hour of judgment for the coming year.

However, Dr. Gelernter extends the concept of separation with an original and visionary perspective reflecting an extensive range of knowledge. He discusses the parting (separation) of the Red Sea, the separation of the Torah scrolls, relishing the real and symbolic meanings. It was a leap and a revelation to follow his thinking, transforming my own appreciation of Jewish law and literature to a new level.

Philosophically and religiously, it is the section "Inward Pilgrimage" that goes to the heart of Judaism, the observance that Dr. Gelernter calls a "spiritual map." It is easy to see that this belief structure lends itself to a positive, moral, orderly, and purposeful life. One need not live a life style to understand and value it. It is a delight to share his joy in Judaism.

I have been privileged see the Dr. Gelernter's own creation, the Ashrei painting which is also the cover artwork this remarkable book. It was a very beautiful and meaningful choice; the Hebrew refers to a prayer passage, a fundamental belief in the Almighty that "Happy are they who dwell in Your house..."
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars alt subtitle: Judaism, an emergent system, February 17, 2010
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This review is from: Judaism: A Way of Being (Hardcover)
Gelernter's goal in writing this book was to explain a few of the themes within Judaism and get the reader to "superimpose" them in his or her mind, and so get a more sophisticated understanding of Judaism and Jewish being. He is very successful at describing the themes...I am not as sure about the synthesis. But the difficulty may be with Judaism and not with the writer - Judaism explains through analogy and suffers several apparent contradictions that no one can resolve in a single book, no matter how well written.

Don't let that stop you from buying it! The book made me think long and hard, and I've read it multiple times. It's very interesting from the perspective of the "whys" of Jewish observance, the mindset behind the rules. For anyone who has struggled with rabbinical/talmudic style thought, you may enjoy Gelernter's Western, academic, yet true-believer take on things.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Jewish Way of Living, March 29, 2010
This review is from: Judaism: A Way of Being (Hardcover)
No biblical Judaism: no Christianity. Thus "A Way of Being," by David Hillel Gelernter is an essential work for anyone who embraces revelatory monotheism. As a staunch adherent of strict Judaism, Gelernter has written an important book for those who aim to grow in their religious knowledge and commitment in addition to those who desire to learn more about the views of modern robust non-moderate Judaism.

Herein the reader will learn about:

- The Creation
- Life's aims based upon the infinite ontological foundation (God)
- The Sabbath
- The Jewish High Holidays
- Numerous typographical interpretations of major events recorded in the Torah and Tenach (some interesting and fanciful interpretations, moreover many fall into the realm of eisegesis).
- Jewish moral law including application regarding countless realms from betrothals and funerals to civil law.
- A theology that declares that God can be abstract, indescribable, yet loving and personal.

In "Judaism" the reader finds an engaging and appealing book filled with potent truths about one of the world's most important religions. This volume is an excellent resource for Jewish people as well as Christians and other non-Jewish people looking to learn about one of history's most fascinating religious groups.

Student opines: "For non-Jews, or Jews who have no experience of observance, Gelernter's little volume offers a window into the living core of Jewish life. Look carefully at the lives of strictly observant Jews in the United States, and you will see the original that Gelernter seeks to portray. What emerges vividly from Gelernter's picture are the nuances, the small but definitive acts of devotion, that together make up the sum of religious Jewish life."

"The Mishnah tells us we should not judge the importance of any particular action based on its attendant reward or punishment; rather, we should strive to fulfill all the Mitzvot. Gelernter applies this injunction to the spiritual evaluation of observances, according equal weight to the commands made explicit in the Bible and to minor contemporary requirements. In presenting Judaism, he shows how their performance resonates with those who fulfill them. If Orthodox Jews today incorporate a practice into religious observance, Gelernter values it in terms of its artistic significance, regardless of its historical origin or theoretical underpinning."

"Gelernter's Judaism is a religion that draws strength from its interpretation by the committed yet unlearned adherent. He is enthralled by the details of religion and the spiritual impact of even minor practices. In presenting a theology of religion as it is practiced, Gelernter has captured the spiritual sensibility of Orthodox Jews in early twenty-first-century America" (Gil Student).
Truth, Knowledge and the Reason for God: The Defense of the Rational Assurance of Christianity
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe not for me, May 10, 2010
This review is from: Judaism: A Way of Being (Hardcover)
Let's be candid. I'm a Christian and a gentile. I read the book to learn more about Judaism. For that purpose I likely picked the wrong book. Gelernter didn't write the book for me. He wrote it to expound on the beauties of an orthodox life, and (to borrow his imagery) sound a shofar, calling the less faithful home. He develops four themes: 1) Separation of the covenant and chosen people from the rest of mankind, 2) The veil that separates man from God, 3) Men and women have different roles and are incomplete, one without the other, and 4) The essential, personal, internal, spiritual pilgrimmage.

The themes are developed using images, analogies, and scripture. Observance of the law is what ties the observant to his past, present, and future, and to "transcendence". Gelernter is passionate in his love for his faith. I would enjoy hearing him speak; however at the slower pace of the written word, he was at times too passionate, too poetic, and too enthusiastic. Image is piled on image, and allegory on metaphor fast and furious, until the entire structure collapses in a rapturous heap.

While I enjoyed the book and learned a great deal, I lost my connection to him in the appendices, specifically when Gelernter expounds on the flaws of Christianity (an area in which I do have first hand experience). From his perspective, meekness, turning the other check, reserving judgement, and failure to argue a point, are the attributes of misinformed Christian sissies. I'm left with the bitter aftertaste of a 5th theme, the arrogance of the True Believer.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Things You Never Learned in Hebrew School, April 26, 2010
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This review is from: Judaism: A Way of Being (Hardcover)
Gelertner's book, written from a modern orthodox standpoint, attempts to offer answers to some key questions regarding Judaism: Why are there so many rules observant Jews are supposed to follow? (and kashruth is just one of them), how can Jews believe in a God whose name and image are hidden from them?, what about inequities between men and women in Judaism?, and finally, why has God allowed so many bestial things to happen to Jews and all of mankind throughout history? His answers are thought provoking, and things you probably never learned in Hebrew School.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars David Gelernter is Smarter Than You, April 19, 2012
By 
Eric Maroney (Trumansburg, NY) - See all my reviews
There is no doubt that David Gelernter's Judaism: A Way of being is an interesting book. He has many sharp and insightful things to say about being Jewish and the Jewish experience, and his image of the overlapping translucent layers of Judaism (an image he is fond of in his other creative and academic endeavors) is somewhat useful to see the interconnected tissue that runs between Judaism's vast field customs, literature, languages, and religious practices.

Gelernter, a noted computer scientist at Yale, knows he is smart, and if he does not openly proclaim it, his lack of humility and somewhat dismissive attitude towards perspectives that differ from his denote it clearly. After all, he states at the beginning of the book: "This is a book about Judaism, but I believe you'll find it unlike any other book on Judaism you've ever read or are likely to read." This book, he seems to proclaim, will somehow trump all other books on the vast subject of Judaism now and forever more.

His views on women and Judaism are conservative and I believe, regressive. His tone about innovation in Judaism is dismissive and insulting. Even though he claims halakah is ridged but Judaism, somehow, is not, he wants adjustments made to Judaism only by those who are "learned in Torah and Talmud and the rabbinic tradition. Changes cannot be decreed by amateurs, kibitzers, or scholars learned not in the Torah but something else."

Who these authorities are to makes changes, and who are the amateurs and kibitzers we are not told. I have a sense those who can make changes are those who Gelernter conveniently agrees with. The rest of his, the woman who wants to be a rabbi, the gay person who wants to be married under Jewish law, well, they are just bumbling amateurs and kibitzers. How nice to dismiss people's humanity and aspirations to be fully human and fully Jewish with one cute sentence.

Gelernter's book is smart but narrow. It is too self serving of a narrow set of concerns of an ideological Judaism.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good For Non-Jews Also, March 10, 2010
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This review is from: Judaism: A Way of Being (Hardcover)
I'm not Jewish, but am interested. This book won't tell you why Jews do certain things or explain any rituals or holidays. It will tell you what Jews believe as far as certain things like, does Judaism put down women, or why does God let bad things happen.
If you're looking for something about Judaism but don't want a list of whys and holidays, you'll like this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishingly erudite and moving exposition on the core of Orthodox Judaism, October 4, 2012
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Professor Gelernter's book is an true feat of erudition and gives us a window into an extraordinary mind at the height of its powers. Not incidentally, it explores the "why" of being Jewish, as well as the how, when, where, etc. By usefully distilling the essence of Judaism via four lenses, this work helped me gain a new appreciation for the religion of my birth and the ways of our people. I would recommend this book for anyone who struggles with religion in the face of a modern world--I found it to be a true antidote to the cynical atheism and ironic detatchment that characterize our secular culture.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, January 24, 2015
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This review is from: Judaism: A Way of Being (Hardcover)
Excellent insights, written clearly with a deep love and commitment to Judaism
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Judiasm: A way of being, September 9, 2012
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What an education. I recommend every Evangelical Christian read this book. It is short, but loaded.
We need to understand what Zionism really is.
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Judaism: A Way of Being
Judaism: A Way of Being by David Hillel Gelernter (Hardcover - November 24, 2009)
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