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A Guide to Jewish Practice, Vol. 1: Everyday Living Hardcover – September 15, 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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About the Author

Rabbi David A. Teutsch is the Director of the Levin-Lieber Program in Jewish Ethics and the Louis and Myra Wiener Professor of Contemporary Jewish Civilization at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 670 pages
  • Publisher: RRC Press (September 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0938945181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0938945185
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 1.5 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,614,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jonathan Groner VINE VOICE on October 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a highly ambitious book. In the first of a planned three-part series, Rabbi Teutsch gathers together the best thinkers of the Reconstructionist movement in an effort to write a guide to all aspects of Judaism -- in the ritual, ethical, spiritual, and many other dimensions -- that is true to the spirit of his movement and of the 21st century.

Teutsch discusses at considerable length such issues as business ethics, the sin of slander ("lashon ha-ra"), the importance of charity and good deeds, spirituality and prayer, and many others. His approaches to these crucial topics are comprehensive, thoughtful, and infused by the spirit of Reconstructionism, which gives Jewish tradition "a vote but not a veto."

In fact, one of the most interesting segments of the book comes toward the end, when Teutsch attempts to explain just how, in practice, modern Jews are supposed to give the Jewish past its vote. He says directly that many present efforts to do that are doing it wrong and are essentially coming to a desired conclusion without grasping with the tradition as one must do.

Evidently in an effort to encourage dialogue and to give representation to diverse views, Teutsch asked dozens of contemporary thinkers to write comments on his main text. These comments appear below the text, attributed to the author in each case. In my view, this technique does not work. The reader can be bewildered by a cacophony of voices rather than educated by a dialogue. Often, a commenter repeats the thought of a previous commenter. It would have been better if Teutsch had used four or five commenters rather than 50 or so. Especially at the beginning, in discussions of Jewish prayer and spirituality, the reader loses track of the key thoughts.
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Format: Hardcover
In my work as a Jewish educator, for a long time I've been making use of sections of this book that were previously published as separate volumes. I've particularly used the section titled "Attitudes, Beliefs, and Values Shaping Jewish Practice" repeatedly in doing adult ed. It's helpful for introducing adult learners to the exercise of identifying values that derive from Jewish tradition and from the larger society in which we live, as part of a values-based decision-making process. Participants in a synagogue committee seeking to make a decision about Jewish practice also would find this to be a valuable resource.

I'm drawn to the format of the book, which models the tradition of Jewish dialog and commentary by presenting comments and glosses from many Jewish thinkers throughout the work. This book isn't intended to replace the process of Jewish text study and meaningful engagement with tradition that should be an important part of any local community's Reconstructionist approach to decision-making; rather, it offers those who are interested in meaningful, contemporary expressions of Jewish life an important resource for identifying core questions, values, and teachings that are essential elements of each area of Jewish practice the book addresses.

This is a resource book, the first volume of what I hope will be several. Rabbis, Jewish educators and others with an interest in serious liberal Jewish approaches to practice will find it helpful.
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Format: Hardcover
"A Guide to Jewish Practice" is an extraordinary book that belongs in every Jewish home, congregational library, and rabbi's study. The title brings to mind I. Kline's celebrated "A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice," but the Teutsch Guide has a far wider sweep, ranging as it does through Kashrut and "Everyday Spirituality," bioethics, the "Ethics of Speech," and "Economic Justice." Though grounded in biblical and rabbinic teachings, this Guide draws on insights from the social and natural sciences, psychiatry, and social work, and, through its commentary, and on the practical experience of today's rabbis and teachers to provide carefully thought-out responses to a wide gamut of contemporary questions and dilemmas that confront thoughtful Jews who seek to meld age-old practices and beliefs of Judaism with the best thinking of our own time. Fundamentally, that is a Reconstructionist enterprise. Dr. Teutsch and his invited commentators have not only set out their positions on a host of issues, some of them controversial, but they have also provided s framework, "values-based decision making," to guide professional and lay Jews in reaching their own conclusions, in the face of new challenges and the ones set out in the guide. The clear and comprehensible language of the book's writing and the great importance of its subject matter enable it to serve a wide spectrum of readers, including men and women affiliated with the Reform and Conservative Movements, unaffiliated Jews, and interested Christian clergy who face many of the dilemmas this worthy contribution to twenty-first-century religious life confronts so ably.

A Guide to Jewish Practice: Everyday Spirituality
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Format: Hardcover
reviewer: Lorraine Hertz, 1175 So. Cleveland, St. Paul, MN 55116

A Guide to Jewish Practice is a very important book because it provides
practical advice which is based on Jewish law. There are many highlights in
this important book. On page 28 a practical suggestion was made that
persons can develop an attitude of thankfulness by making a list every day
of things for which they are thankful.

One suggestion is that statistics could have been provided to back the
statement that" Jews are among the most affluent and mobile Americans" (p.
165). Another significant discussion in the book refers to the fact that at
the present time one does not need to maximize the birthrate and for this
reason contraception is acceptable.

The chapter, "Obligations to Individuals", is very helpful, especially the
discussion about deeds of kindness. A follow-up chapter, Curing" provides
insights on the importance of healing in body and spirit in Jewish life.

This book would be an important addition to the library in every Jewish
person's home.
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