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How to Raise a Jewish Child: A Practical Handbook for Family Life Paperback – August 26, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Parenting is a wholly human practice, and a holy one." This description of parenting comes from the Preface of How to Be a Jewish Parent by Anita Diamant, with Karen Kushner. At a time when statistics predict continued dilution of Jewish identity, when many "discussions of Jewish parenting seem like a last-ditch effort to preserve an endangered way of life," Diamant and Kushner instead consider parenting to be the project of "raising healthy, joyful human beings within our rich, diverse, life-giving tradition." The first part of the book, "Parents as Teachers," describes how to create Jewish spaces within the home, how to involve children in a Jewish community, and how to teach them about the Jewish calendar. The second part of the book, "Ages and Stages," addresses the particular challenges of raising children in various age groups. And the third section, "Modern Life," speaks to some particularly challenging situations, such as physical, mental, and learning disabilities. Throughout, Diamant and Kushner combine insights from scripture, psychology, education, and everyday experience. Like Diamant's previous books, How to Be a Jewish Parent arrives as the definitive reference in its field. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

How do you advise anyone how to be a parent? With so many parenting styles and types of families today, the answer is almost necessarily to offer choices. In fact, Diamant, author of several Jewish handbooks and the best-selling novel The Red Tent, and Kushner, a clinical social worker, call their easy-to-read guide "a book of choices" whose agenda is "to raise happy, healthy children by providing a window into Judaism's rich, varied and life-affirming traditions and values." Sections on making a Jewish home, finding community, celebrating holidays and observing life-cycle rituals from birth to death are chock-full of innovative strategies, practical explanations, age-appropriate suggestions and bibliographies to foster Jewish literacy. The book explores every avenue for enriching Jewish life, from affixing a play mezuzah on a doll's house and having a family joke fest on the joyous Purim holiday to shopping for a synagogue, school or camp. A chapter on conflict acknowledges the tensions that arise between spouses, or between parents and children, based on differing perceptions of "how to be Jewish and how Jewish to be." Diamant and Kushner gear their recommendations to the liberal Jewish community. Parents who are just beginning their Jewish journeys as well as those who are already knowledgeable and experienced will benefit from their wise, creative ideas. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken; Revised, Updated ed. edition (August 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805212213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805212211
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #361,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By F. Greene on September 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
This wonderful, accessible book is a great start for a new or not-so-new Jewish family. The explanations, historical accounts, resources, and suggestions are all shared with sensitivity and clarity for those not familiar with their Jewish heritage, but eager to learn so that they can transmit our memories and traditions to another generation. A "must buy" for Jewish parents who want to share Judaism with their children but are unsure or insecure about how to begin. It is also a great gift. Use it well.
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i bought this book hoping to gain some insight into things i can do to make our household more 'jewish' and ways to guide our new baby to a life of 'jewishness' that we didn't have until we had her.

i thought this book would at least give me some ideas...and it does this plus so much more.

i have actually learned tons from just reading the first few chapters (with new baby -not alot of time for reading)...things that i never learned in my childhood about jewish traditions and prayers and holidays.

i even impressed my brother who married into an orthodox family when i recited the prayer for 'firsts' when he was with us when the baby saw her first snow.

i really feel much more confident that i can teach my daughter some valuable lessons that i hope will become a part of her life that will always be with her.

i recommend this book to those of us who just never got the 'jewish stuff' from our growing up and want to give their kids more than just bagels and lox.

it also gives us tools for answering so many of the questions that jewish kids will ask their parents, and i firmly believe that the way we answer these questions will make a difference in our kids level of commitment to their jewish heritage.
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Format: Paperback
First published in 2000, How to Raise a Jewish Child has been updated with a new introduction by Anita Diamant, author of The Red Tent. This is a book written by Diamant and Kushner because in their words, it is a book that "is about raising healthy, joyful human beings within our rich, diverse, life-giving tradition....Jewish parenting is about giving your children a gift that will help them become the wisest, strongest, happiest people they can be."

If only it was that easy. As a parent of two Jewish teenagers, do I wish I had this book 14 years ago? Maybe so! The subtitle of this book is, A Practical Handbook for Family Life. I would have rather seen it titled a guide versus a handbook. Then I wouldn't feel guilty for the pages I skimmed through and for those I didn't even read.

The authors state this is a book of strategies and tools in raising your children. They stress that this book is also a celebration of Jewish life. The celebration focus is what makes this book so versatile because it allows the Jewish or non-Jewish reader a wonderful overview of the Jewish cycle of life. Chapter titles range from "Creating a Jewish Space" to "Making Community" to chapters broken down into the child's respective age. The chapter "Defining Jewish Time" gives a wonderful look at the Jewish holidays, including the Sabbath, and supplies a variety of prayers necessary to each important holiday.

I found this chapter the most educational. Because of this chapter not only is this book helpful for parents raising Jewish children but helpful to couples entering interfaith relationships.
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I should probably finish the entire book (I'm only through Chapter 2), but this is a great resource for a "beginner". As a Jew by choice, I feel at a disadvantage in instinctively knowing how to raise Jewish children (ie, my parents didn't model it for me). This book takes a very open minded approach and is certainly geared toward liberal Jews. The tone is not at all condescending, and the authors provide excellent concrete examples of what you can do for/with your children. This includes book recommendations, art projects, and other age appropriate suggestions. If you need some moral support for raising your child Jewish, I would highly recommend this book.
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I bought the book hoping to get some insights on making Judaism and morality part of my child's everyday life. The book didn't really get into that, but rather focused on some basic concepts of Jewish holiday observance and personal opinions from the authors. We got a lot more out of Sacred Parenting: Jewish Wisdom for Your Family's First Years, and have recommended that to friends who are planning to have children soon.
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My wife and I have enjoyed Anita's books over the past year and does an excellent job helping anyone understand the topics of her books. Easy to read and keeps your attention. Would highly recommend any of her books related to Judaism.
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As a christian who gets a lot of wisdom from the Old Testament of the Bible, I am excited to read this book and learn more about how God's people have instructed children in the past. Just reading the first few pages made me even more excited.
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