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This Is My God Paperback – April 15, 1992
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That said, this is an excellent book on what Judaism means in regards to marriage, history, Israel, prayer, observance, Torah, Talmud, kashrut and study. He writes in a clear concise style concerning the daily life of an observant Jew as well as the history that went into it. Many times he argues for the education of young Jewish children in Judaism (taking issue with the refrain "they can choose it when they grow up" since it is easy to reject what you've learned but hard to learn something you should have learned when you were a child.) and against the rising tide of assimilation. He tells personal stories about studying Talmud with his grandfather and his time fighting in World War II. One particularly amusing one is how he was disappointed to learn that "an eye for an eye" meant compensatory damage payments as it was one of his best arguments for rejecting observance altogether at age 14 when he would have rather gone to Saturday afternoon movies.
A caveat in that if you are an observant Jew, you will probably not learn much from this book. This is the book that rabbis have conversion candidates read in order to make sure that everyone has a good idea as to what is going to happen if the conversion goes through.Read more ›
While his discussions of Shabbat, Hanukah, and other observances are fine reading, Wouk reaches his peak when discussing his own and his family's experiences--his grandfather, whom he obviously admired a great deal, his father, who spent an immense sum of money (for the times) to buy the honor of reading the book of Jonah on Yom Kippur afternoon. Wonderful images of a time in Judaism gone by.
I do not find it limiting that Wouk writes from an Orthodox perspective (he assumes, for example, that only a man would wear a tallit, which is the Orthodox practice, but not the Conservative). Wouk was what he was, and I do not think he should have modified his book to an egalitarian perspective to satisfy the wolves of political correctness.
Well worth an annual read and a place on your shelf.
The best chapters,in my opinion, are related to the experiences related to the secular Jewish people when they got involved in the Jewish religious rituals at the synagogue or at home during childhood, "one feels like he is telling ones own experiences when he was a Jewish kid, so unexplained and uneasy situations at that time become hilarious
Generally speaking, Wouk, who is observant, tried to be very open avoiding dogma and intended to convey to the Jewish reader the precious value of his 4000 years heritage and a way to learn how to feel proud about it.
Wouk did not forget the non-Jewish reader either, he wrote this book with simple concepts and language so anyone interested about Judaism can get a good basic introduction through these pages
One warning: When I read this book for a class on Judaism at a Christian seminary, some of the students had trouble with the extravagantly non-gender-inclusive language. I personally can deal with masculine language for all humanity in books more than a few decades old (this was first published in 1957), but when Wouk assumes that the reader is male, as when he refers to the reader's beard (I'm female)--well, it's almost too funny to be offensive.
In any case, I highly recommend it.
P.S. (eight years later): I assigned this book as the main text on Judaism (along with the Bible) in a college class on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and the students really liked it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's what you're looking for. But don't just stop here, buy other books on the subject too. You know, because you have a lot of time to read.Published 4 months ago by Hu, Yi-Su
Great source of information. Beginners in the Jewish religion and traditions will find ample resources in a simple language.Published 5 months ago by Norma Casas
I have always enjoyed Herman Wouk's informative writings, but this was too scholarly for me.Published 5 months ago by SJ