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The Jewish Book of Why Hardcover – January 1, 1981


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The Jewish Book of Why + The Second Jewish Book of Why + The Jewish Book of Why--The Torah
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan David Publishers; Revised Edition, 2007. edition (January 1, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824602560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824602567
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Why are there kosher dietary laws, why must the chapter of curses in the Tora be read quickly in a low voice, and what's the point of visiting a body of water to empty pockets of crumbs on Rosh Hashana? Kolatch writes lucidly and knowingly, explaining the biblical, traditional and superstitious sources of thousands of questions pertaining to Judaism; the comprehensive index is expertly organized.

From Publishers Weekly

This book is for Jews and Gentiles alike, offering an encyclopedic compendium of concise, cogent explanations of Jewish rituals and practices. Kolatch, a rabbi and author of Great Jewish Quotations, treats every facet of Jewish religious observance, including births, weddings and funerals, sabbath and synagogue, holidays from Passover to Purim and the intricacies of the Jewish calendar. He teases apart the variations that distinguish different Jewish communities and denominations, and carefully notes whether a practice derives from the Torah, the Talmudic law or custom. Kolatch's catechistic format fields queries about the grand imponderables ("Why is marriage such an important institution in Jewish life?") and the most exquisite niceties ("Why do some people remove their tefilin after concluding the Amida, and then immediately put on a second pair for the balance of the service?"). In answering such questions, he sticks to Jewish law and history; on the particularly vexed issue of Kosher dietary rules, he rejects speculation about nutritional or sanitary benefits and insists that their rationale lies in the Divine injunction of "holiness" and the Jews' destiny as a people apart. While there are alternatives to some of the explanations offered here, Kolatch writes in an erudite but straightforward style, providing an intelligent, loving introduction to Jewish tradition and culture.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

For more jewish reading I reccomend the second Jewish Book Of Why.
rzaster
I read this book first galance, started reading one page at time and not done yet.
Madhu S. Vashist
A lot of ground is covered in an easy to understand question and answer format.
David E. Levine

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By David E. Levine on December 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book was originally published nearly 20 years ago so the fact that it is still a popular seller is a testament to how good a volume this is. A lot of ground is covered in an easy to understand question and answer format. The first few chapters cover Jewish life cycle events such as birth and childhood, marriage and divorce, and finally the end of life itself .. death and mourning. Then the book covers other areas of Jewish life such as rituals, holidays, etc. Obviously a basic book on Judaism written in this format cannot be exhaustive (of course there is now a Second Jewish Book of Why). However, in a very understandable manner, this book explains a lot. This book is very informative but I recommend that it not be considered the last word, ie, it is not authorative. If there is an argument as to what Jewish law requires, this book is a valuable guide but the authority would be original sources.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By G. J Wiener on October 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book makes an excellent reference because it answers many important questions about Jewish beliefs. Whether its customs related to holidays, marriage, death, clothing, food or otherwise each questions is answered in ane asy to read manner. The authortakes an open minded stance which further adds to the book's value. I frequently look back at this book and learn something new each time I pick it up. Just timeless!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By rzaster on January 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The Jewish Book of Why is among the best Jewish books ever published. The book gives insight to Jewish customs like marriage, birth, divorce, holidays, and a lot of Jewish history. Whether reading the book or just leaving it on the coffe table to peruse through, The Jewish Book of Why will be great for a jew, a person that is interested in Judaism, and yourself. I highly reccomend this book. For more jewish reading I reccomend the second Jewish Book Of Why. This is a great book that you will definitley enjoy.
HAPPY READING!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book to own or give as a gift. It contains a thoughtful array of Jewish traditions, some significant and some trivial, but all heart-warming and colorful. It's an easy book to read from cover to cover, but it is written in a way that encourages the reader to flip it open to any page and enjoy for a few minutes. An ideal book for elderly relatives who may not have the interest in reading for long periods. Learn why Jewish holidays are celebrated differently when in Israel. Understand the differences between Sephardic and Ashkenazic practices. Learn about Jewish customs in Africa, the Orient, Western and Eastern Europe, Germany, Turkey, Kurdish regions, the US, Israel, and other Middle Eastern countries. Incredibly well researched and a pleasure to explore.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Thelma on May 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very disappointed in the book. The book I received was a Miniature Edition, however, no where in the advertisement was this indicated. The book was 2-1/2" x 3" and there was very little information in the 175 pages.
Had I known the book was so small, I would not have ordered it. This book was misrepresented. I plan to order another regular size printed version from another company.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book makes Judaism accessible to a wide range of people. If you are Jewish and you do not remember or do not know the reasons underlying some Jewish symbols, practices and ways (or you just remember one reason out of the 2? 3? 4? ... reasons for one thing), the "Jewish Book of Why" is incontestably a good reference (although not authoritative). Its handy and easy-to-read format favours learning because it renders the answers to your questions, clear and "to the point", pretty much in the same way as a dictionary. But what is most interesting is that the book does not only ask "why" and answers "because" to all the questions one might ALREADY have about Judaism. By going through the entire book like a novel, others will also discover all these Jewish symbols, practices and ways that make Judaism very rich and inspiring as a religion, an art, a culture. That is why, I rank this book as a Jewish Work of Art.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Richard Klein on May 10, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My wife and I use The Jewish Book of Why as a reference book for Jewish beliefs, customs, and holidays. We often give the book as part of a Bar/Bat Mitzvah present. We also give it to friends and family to encourage their interest in Judaism. It is extremely well-written and understandable.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K.A.Goldberg on December 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book's question-and-answer format makes for easy reading, and should be of equal interest to both Jews and non-Jews alike. Want to know about Jewish marriage, divorce and family life? How about holidays, rituals, differences between orthodox and reform branches, or after affects of the Nazi holocaust? The answers are found here in this slightly dated book, one that was soon followed by a sequel (the Second Book of Jewish Why). This is an informative and nicely readable reference - one can only hope that authors from other religions and traditions will write books with a similar format.
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