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Why Be Jewish? Paperback – September 15, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 1st edition (September 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805039279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805039276
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Clearly-at times beautifully-written, Why Be Jewish? does not claim to be a rigorous theological analysis or a detailed guide to Jewish practice. Instead it is "a personal portrait of faith for those who are searching," written for Jews who wish to know more about Judaism, for non-Jews who may be thinking of marrying a Jew or for those who are simply curious. Wolpe, who teaches at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, uses Judaism as a grounding point for a general spiritual quest. He emphasizes that Jews are bound together throughout history by their belief in one God, their resilience and their great gifts to culture. Judaism, he says, as "a religion of joy and affirmation in spite of the sufferings of the Jewish people," honors all features of being human, stresses the importance of deeds as a sign of faith and rejoices in the personal, deep involvement of God.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Judaism shares in the rebirth of interest in traditional religions and, as Wolpe presents it, welcomes that interest in order to both bring secular Jews back to the faith and make converts. In his clear and welcoming primer, Wolpe says a person chooses Judaism "To Grow in Soul," "To Join a People," and "To Seek God," as the titles of his three chapters state. Much of what Wolpe imparts--Judaism's joyousness, dedication to good works, love of learning, community solidarity, concern for justice--will be familiar; other aspects of the religion, particularly the open nature of the Jewish sense of being chosen by God, will pack the power of pleasant surprise for many. Some Christians, especially members of the peace churches (Mennonites, Quakers, Brethren), may think they have heard lots of this sermon before. They have: a great deal of it is bedrock Christianity. Ray Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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The reading is easy yet insightful and intelligent.
L.M.
I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in Judaism--Jews or non-Jew alike.
Brenda Pangborn
Verdict: This book was not really worth the time or the money.
Lemas Mitchell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
This little book is a beautiful read. He describes the essential ideas, attitudes, and perceptions of Judaism with eloquent, if not poetic, language that touches the heart. I am not religious or observant, but I am seeking to find my own spirituality within Judaism. This book goes straight to the heart of Juadaism. I highly recommend it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
I loved this book! In a very few pages, it gives you a sense of why the author, and by extension anyone else, would want to be a Jew. Moreover, the book is written in a beautifully lyric prose, which was beautiful & easy to read. I would love to mass produce this book & give it to every non-Orthodox Jew as well as anyone thinking of conversion. What a treat!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 29, 1998
Format: Paperback
I read this book a long time ago, but I remember how much I liked it. If you ever need to tell somebody why you enjoy being Jewish, you should tell them to read this little book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L.M. on December 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
The author answers the question "Why Be Jewish?" in three organized and artfully written sections from a non-sectarian Jewish perspective. The reading is easy yet insightful and intelligent. I'd recommend this book to anyone considering conversion to Judaism as well as family and friends of the convert. (Of course, conversion to Judaism is a highly personal, serious task and is not encouraged.) Furthermore, the book does not replace a halachic (Jewish law) authority, and anyone with questions should contact their local orthodox rabbi.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lemas Mitchell on November 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This whole book can be read through in a couple of hours, and that's good because I didn't get much out of it. I can say that I became interested to read more by David Wolpe based on some very intelligent answers that he gave during a debate with Sam Harris about the existence of God. His reasoning during that debate was so clear that I thought that anything he wrote would be as tightly reasoned. This book was, however, anticlimactic. (This book was written about 15 years before the lectures, so there is the possibility that Wolpe polished his technique a lot in the intervening years. It doesn't do much, though, to change the fact that this book is pretty sorry.)

The three sections were answers to the question: "Why Be Jewish?"

1. To Grow In Soul

2. To Join A People

3. To Seek God

You can pick what you want out of this and leave the rest, but this writing basically reminds me of what would come out if Thomas Friedman were a rabbi. One jewel, for example: "The master musician must spend agonizing hours practicing uninspiring hand exercising before taking up Brahms; one who would cultivate spirit must realize that discipline and law are the training grounds for spirits that seek to climb." (p.17). Or another: "Spirit contradicts the laws of Physics; in being expended, it grows greater." (p.31).

This book would have been a lot better if he had made some slight modifications. The organization in three sections was great. Within each section, he could have taken up one topic. One single topic for one page or two. (So, he could have talked about the Jewish view of God or of sin in contradistinction to Christianity/ Islam. He could have talked about the Jewish view of intimacy.
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By Lulu-Guru on July 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Such a valuable book! It totally helped me commit to converting to Judaism. In answer to the title question, he poses three answers: To grow your soul, to develop a relationship with God and to be part of a community, and then supports those answers with Judaism's beliefs, practices and history in totally undogmatic fashion. While some books can get hung up in the traditions and halakhah (law), which is important, he makes the religion very real, understandable and pragmatically important for today's age.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
rabbi Wolpe book why be Jewish is excellently written.easy to understand.would be useful for Jews to read review to explore their faith. and certainly and certainly a very comprehensive and understandable review for non Jews
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