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Jews Without Judaism: Conversations With an Unconventional Rabbi Paperback – April 1, 2002

3.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of this primer on Jewish humanism is a founder of the Society for Humanistic Judaism and has served since 1965 as the rabbi of Congregation Beth Or, a humanistic temple in Deerfield, Ill. Espousing beliefs that are formally held by only a tiny segment of the Jewish community, Friedman has had many discussions about the unique views of Jewish humanism. In this book, he presents the essence of those deliberations in eight easy-to-read fictional "conversations," which express his understanding of an authentic Jewish stance on many issues that confront American Jews: intermarriage, observance, creation, spirituality, anti-Semitism, Jews and Christians, God, and differences among the Jewish denominations. Friedman consistently advocates a secular approach, denying the existence of an omnipotent God. The autonomous individual, rather than God, is foremost in his view. He insists that "religion plays virtually no part in the lives of most American Jews," even claiming that "Judaism, the religion, came to an end some two hundred years ago." Friedman notes that Jewish culture, history, traditions and holidays should be studied and appreciated from a naturalistic perspective. Although few Jews will agree with Friedman's opinions, he succeeds in clearly and persuasively presenting the attitudes of Jewish humanism.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

"...a step in the right direction..." -- Humanist in Canada #145, Summer 2003

"excellent introduction to the ways in which being a Jew is readily compatible with being secular and even an atheist." -- About.com
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 108 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (March 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573929247
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573929240
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,632,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on December 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
Daniel Friedman is, along with Sherwin T. Wine (see his Judaism Beyond God: A Radical New Way to Be Jewish) one of the founders of "Humanistic Judaism. He served for 35 years as rabbi of the Congregation Beth Or in Illinois, and is currently (as of when this book was published) Rabbinic Adviser to Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation in north suburban Chicago.

He writes in the Introduction to this 2002 book, "Many Jews wonder whether they are really Jewish after all. Having been taught that being Jewish means being part of a religious community, they ask themselves if they truly qualify. Can one be Jewish without God? Without religion? Without Judaism? Such are the questions to be considered in the following pages."

Here are some quotations from the book:

"It is my contention that Judaism, the religion, came to an end two hundred years ago; that subsequent 'Judaisms' (Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Humanistic, and to some extent, even Orthodox) are, in fact, not religious but secularized modifications of Judaism; and that, aside from a relatively small number of sincerely committed believers and practitioners of Halachic Judaism, Jews have, in effect, said farewell to Judaism." (Pg. 13)
"My brand, as you put it, is natural spirituality, which acknowledges that we are more than our material selves. We are more than highly developed computers. We cannot be reduced to bundles of synapses and electrical charges... we may rationally believe that there is something called 'the human spirit' that is quite real, yet beyond scientific analyses." (Pg. 62)
"I am unaware of distinctive 'Jewish values.
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Format: Paperback
Concise and simple, yet penetrating enough to explain Humanistic Judaism. Provides a helpful discussion of the historical roots of the change in Judaism and the roles of Napoleon and of the establishment of the USA in changing the historical status of Jewish people as a minority. Most interesting is the impact of of anti-Semitism on the religion. The last 3 pages are very useful regarding the understanding of the change in the Jewish identity. The book stands against the common wisdom of most of the Jewish writers who stresse demise of the Jewish identity to assert that the current situation and events will only carry a better future for the Jews. Jews today are freer than any other time in their history.
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Format: Paperback
Concise and simple, yet penetrating enough to explain Humanistic Judaism. Provides a helpful discussion of the historical roots of the change in Judaism and the roles of Napoleon and of the establishment of the USA in changing the historical status of Jewish people as a minority. Most interesting is the role of anti-Semitism on the religion. The last 3 pages are very useful about the understanding of the change in Jewish identity. The book stands against the common wisdom of most of the Jewish writers of the demise of the Jewish identity to assert that the current situation and the future will only become better for the future of the Jews. Jews today are freer than any other time in their history.
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Excellent. Thought provoking. Rational.
Helpful to rational and humanistic people, particularly those from Jewish backgrounds , or connected to them.
Contemporary world events do challenge some if his assumptions about the 21st century .
I will reread this, and recomend to others.
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