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Judaism For Dummies Paperback – April 10, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: For Dummies; 1 edition (April 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764552996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764552991
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Like the many other Dummies books, Judaism for Dummies organizes a wealth of material into an easy-reading format with a warm, accessible voice. Readers can expect to find translations of common Yiddish words, the difference between Orthodox and other denominations, the meaning and rituals of high holidays, the origins of the Jewish people, and a stirring passage about the Holocaust.

The authors make this book especially engaging by deftly tackling those "I've always wondered..." kinds of questions about Judaism. For instance, what are the guidelines for kosher food? What's the Jewish version of sin? Was Marilyn Monroe really Jewish? (Yes, she converted.) And what exactly do Jews believe about God? The authors answer this last question with characteristic reverence and humor: "Some Jews see God as an external force, a Being outside of the universe.... Some Jews say that God contains the Universe.... Other Jews say that God is the universe.... The one thing that Jews won't argue about, period, is that God--whatever you imagine God to be--is ultimately unknowable and therefore un-nameable." They also note that Jews argue with God in order to know God better. They're called "Children of Israel" because of the biblical story in which Jacob wrestles with an angel and gets his name changed to Israel, meaning "one who wrestles with God."

The authors' lively voices give this stylistically formatted book a unique personality. Sometimes they sound as though they're telling jokes at a dinner party: "Have you heard the one about the two rabbis arguing over the Torah?" and "Yom Kippur means always having to say you're sorry." Other times they sound like fireside elders sharing the old stories of an ancient faith. This is an excellent book for someone preparing to become a bar or bat mitzvah. It could also be helpful for gentiles marrying into Jewish families, or any adult who is planning on converting. --Gail Hudson

Review

“A concise and upbeat primer on the Jewish faith, Judaic history, and what it means to be a Jew.” -- Senator Joseph Lieberman

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Customer Reviews

I agree that this book respectfully potrays all movements of Judaism.
"suzannabegins"
For a good Bible translation, read: Artscroll English Tanach, avoid the poor-quality JPS version.
FYI
I recommend Judaism for Dummies as a first-read for anyone interested in Judaism.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Liora Hess TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
This was the first book I ever read about Judaism, and it was a great place to start. Judaism for Dummies gives you an overview on Judaism in a lighthearted way that prepares you for later "heavier" reading on Judaism if you're interested.
The book covers everything from the holidays and food, to history and various sects of Judaism. The authors manage to do this without your really being able to distinguish whether they're Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or something other.
As someone who is exploring and thinking about attending a synagogue service, the book settles your mind and lets you know what the service will be like, what will take place, what is appropriate for you to participate in and what isn't. Finally, the end of the book is filled with a glossary to help with your growing vocabulary of Jewish terms and other references. Very helpful and not overwhelming for those just beginning to learn about Judaism.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
If this had been the first book I had read about Judaism, I probably would have gotten much more interested much more quickly than I did. Judaism for Dummies presents all the basic concepts of Judaism in just over 300 pages of delightful commentary. With informative sidebars and appropriate humor, this book is an excellent introduction to the Jewish faith. Appendixes include a table of the holidays for until the year 2010, an introduction to Yiddish words as well as less well known Yinglish words and basic Jewish vocabulary, and a smattering of useful blessings presented in Hebrew, transliteration, and English.

I recommend Judaism for Dummies as a first-read for anyone interested in Judaism. The one downside is that that it may be a bit simplistic for people who are already on their way to discovering the joys of the Jewish faith.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Hurley VINE VOICE on February 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
Very detailed and fun guide to Judaism. A wonderful book particularly for the non-Jew, Goyim, and possibly as a basic teaching guide for Jews who are less studious with their faith. Captures everything from who Jews are to their origins and discusses different types of worship from conservative to orthdox to the Hasidism. The book not only covers the basic beliefs but also a modest history along with chapters on the specific holidays with straight forward explanations. Even includes a glossary of frequently used Jewish words, frequently asked questions, reference information and detail on the types of cultural food with recipes. Strong points are not only the description of the beliefs but the break down of the meanings of the holidays with guides on how to act, what to expect and what to bring. This book provides a very pleasant and positive look at the faith, capturing the celebration of life along with soulful reflection. The only criticism, which is mild, is that I wish the book had a broader glossary for quick reference utilizng more terms with small bios of the critical people involved.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on February 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech ha'olam asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav
Dont know what this means? Read this wonderful introduction and find out. This wonderful book gives the reader many fascinating introductions to Judaism, from basic prayers and blessings to a valiant history to the many ways in which Judaism has influenced the world. From the ancient rituals to the structure of the Torah and the nature of the High Holidays. From Abraham in the desert to Judah the Maccabbee and Bar Kochba and their wars against the idol worshipers of Greece and Rome. You will not be disappointed if you are interested in Judaism or interested in what Jews believe and who Jews are and how Jews relate to Israel.
Probably the only flaw with this book is that its called 'for Dummies' and no one who wants to learn about Judaism can be called Dummy in any sense of the word.
Seth J. Frantzman
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By "suzannabegins" on July 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is a great book for ANYONE even slightly interested in Judaism--and it's very easy to understand...even for 16-year-olds like me. I agree that this book respectfully potrays all movements of Judaism. The authors display a love of tradition, but understand the importance of common sense, and seek to maintain that balance. As a former Christian (considering Judaism as an option), I also appreciate their respect for Christianity... But anyway...I like how they don't assume you're a complete idiot, but they make sure you understand the important things before you head of to a service, where you might embarass yourself...Well my point (and I do have one) to all of this is that Judaism for Dummies is worth every penny I spent.(duh.) :)
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
My friend recommended this book to refresh my memory for all I forgot from my University studies over 20 years ago. This book is quite wonderful and gives a magnificent, quick synopsis of all the basics of Judaism; especially helps now with all the compassion and empathy contained therein. No matter what your beliefs, you will find comfort here in all the basics principles of all of our struggles for the meaning of life.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Mcclendon on March 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
Falcon and Blatner really dive deep into the Jewish faith and give details on stuff like basic beliefs, the festivals, Jewish history, and the whole Jewish mysticism/Kabbalah thing. There are some sidebars about what to do if you're not Jewish and you've been invited to something like a synagogue service or a wedding which should be really helpful. So enjoy.
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