- Paperback: 148 pages
- Publisher: CCAR Press (September 25, 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0881230103
- ISBN-13: 978-0881230109
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,162,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Gates of Shabbat: Shaarei Shabbat: A Guide for Observing Shabbat Paperback – September 25, 1991
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Top customer reviews
As a starting guide, this is an Ok book. However, Reform Judaism is supposed to be about choice, and it seems to me that no one really has a choice if they don't know what all the options are. What are all the customs and laws regarding Shabbat, and how did they develop? What purpose do they serve? Why do people do them? Unless you comprehensivle look into these questions, you deny yourself the ability to make an informed choice.
As such, I would also reccomend reading the chapters on Shabbat in in Issac Klein's "A Guide to Jewish Religous Practice" and Michael Strassfeld's "The First Jewish Catalog".
Another book I would reccomend is "The Shabbat Seder" by Ron Wolfson. It is a step-by-step guide teaching the meaning and practices of the Sabbath, and has an easy-to-read format for people with varying degrees of Hebrew skills, with most blessings written in both Hebrew and English, and transliteration. On a more technical level, one might want to read through "The Sabbath: A Guide to Its Understanding and Observance, by Dr. I. Grunfeld.
Now, having said that, I think the book can still be a useable gate for the absolute beginner, coming from a secular or Reform background, who is trying to bring Shabbat observance into the home. It does have good "how-to" instructions for the home rituals, non-sexist translations, and clear transliterations of the Hebrew text. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the how-tos for the rituals are very traditional, reflecting, perhaps, the recent movement within Reform to introduce more Hebrew into the service and more observance into the home.
Plus it has the written music for the blessings and songs around the table, and there are nice explanations of some of the "whys" for the traditions, such as why we have two candles, etc.
All of which makes it an appealing reference for the non-Orthodox Jew who is trying to explore Shabbat but does not want anything "too heavy." I especially liked the relaxed, user-friendly writing style. (My Orthodox brethren could learn a lesson here, because, sad to say, many Orthodox book in English are just too academic and formal, making them inaccessible to the rank beginner.)
At the same time, because it takes the Reform approach, tending to see Judaism as a man-made culture rather than a divinely-revealed religion, it doesn't really go into much depth about the halachic (Jewish law) details for observing Shabbat, nor does it stress our obligation to God to observe it, etc.
So, if I may use an analogy, "Gates of Shabbat" is more like a fast-food burger, rather than a full Sabbath meal.
My advice would be to use the how-to instructions for making the blessings and singing the songs, and regard the various "models" as essays for helping you to examine your own relationship to God, Judaism, and Shabbat as you evolve toward greater levels of observance. Once you are really inside the Gate, you'll need other resources as well, to deepen your learning.