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Customer Review

15 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars well written but outdated, May 25, 2003
This review is from: A Letter in the Scroll: Understanding Our Jewish Identity and Exploring the Legacy of the World's Oldest Religion (Hardcover)
Rabbi Sacks wrote this to persaude Jews to be better Jews - but I'm not sure he would persuade anyone who isn't already converted, especially in view of recent events.
On the positive side, this book is very well written and easy to read. I started it at 4:30 Shabbos afternoon and was 2/3 done with it five hours later. And when Rabbi Sacks writes as a rabbi, he does quite well - that is to say, I found his analysis of difficult Torah passages (e.g. the almost-sacrifice of Isaac) quite enlightening.
Much of his writing is a historical attempt to show Judaism's contributions to the world and how Judaism differed from paganism; I don't really know enough about paganism to agree or disagree with all of his points. (I generally find his analysis persuasive, but as a Jew who doesn't have a lot of pagan friends, I'm kind of biased).
The only reason I gave this book four stars instead of five is that because of the recent outbreak of anti-Semitism around the world, it is totally outdated. Sacks writes that Jews have no reason to be ambivalent about their identity or scared to be Jews, because "neither now nor in the foreseeable future can [anti-Semitism] hold center stage in the political arena" (p. 221) - words that made sense in the late 1990s when he wrote them. Yet now a worldwide terrorist army, incited by al-Jazeera and other state-supported media in Islamic states, has announced its plan to destroy all of the world's Jews, and is only a few nuclear weapons away from making substantial "progress" in that direction. And Israel is being hammered at by terrorist aggression, and most of the world sympathizes with the terrorists. If Rabbi Sacks writes a second edition (and I hope he does) it will have to be substantially modified to address these unpleasant realities.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 28, 2008 3:15:36 AM PST
Your last point is a good one. It's amazing how fast time can change things. The book was published in 2000.

Posted on Oct 19, 2012 7:01:32 AM PDT
D. Rubin says:
Since the creation of the State of Israel, Jews have re-learned to stand up to bullies. The answer to Jihadists and anti-Semitism, is to be proud to be a Jew. No revision of the book is necessary.
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