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Letters to Josep: An Introduction to Judaism Paperback – March 29, 2016
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About the Author
Daniella Levy is a writer, translator, and educator living in Israel with her husband and three sons. Her work has appeared in print and online on several platforms, including Pnima Magazine, Kveller, and Ynet News. She enjoys teaching women’s self-defense, learning new languages (which she then refuses to speak), and, as evidenced by this book, composing unreasonably long e-mails to people.
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Top Customer Reviews
If Mrs. Levy had Ezekiel 37 in mind when she named her book then I tip my hat to her prophetic insight. If not then this book and its title is even more prophetic. Either way, I expect “Letters to Josep” is a step in the direction of re-joining the two sticks.
The book is about two friends that live in opposite sides of the Mediterranean and have two different backgrounds, but despite that, they establish a friendship that lasts for years, and discuss many topics, mainly related to Josep's interests in Judaism, from a Catholic and secular point of view.
It is a well written book, full of wit, sarcasm, history, love, intrigue and describes a lovely friendship between two people of a totally different background.
Please make my words: You will not regret buying this book.
In each chapter Daniella Levy tackles a different area of what it is to do Jewish: how and why Jews observe a weekly day of rest, family and spiritual endeavors; the rules of keeping Kosher, several of which I'd never heard of before; the holidays and their meanings as well as their ritual practices; , prayer, and more.
In each chapter, Levy sprinkles gentle humor plus insightful pithy, wisdom comments to convey easily and yet in depth the essence of being and doing Jewish. By the end, my own sense of what it means to be and to do Jewish felt clarified and justified.
Bravo Daniella Levy on a brilliant contribution, a short book that every Jew should read, as well as every non-Jew who wants an insiders' glimpse into what Jewish is about.
I would contend that this is indeed a book for those readers -- but it is something more.
One of the nicest experiences for someone who has lived in Israel for a long time is meeting a new immigrant, or even spending time with someone who is visiting, who sees the country with fresh eyes. One of the nicest experiences for a person who has always been religious, or has been religious for a long time, is meeting someone new to Jewish practice, whose eyes are alight with love and fascination for all things Jewish. All of the things that made us fall in love with this place, with this people, with this life -- all is refreshed, like dew on roses, through the love of someone showing it to us again, through new eyes.
I have been living a Torah life for nearly 30 years. I love my life -- yet I feel that I am permitted to see Judaism freshly and to love it anew through the prose, humor and wisdom of Daniella Levy, as she explains it to her non-Jewish friend. And -- after thousands of years of knowledge -- there are always new things to learn, which even a seasoned observant Jew might find fascinating. Here is a sample of Daniella's wisdom with wit, explaining a certain practice during the havdalah ceremony that separates the Sabbath from the new week:
"...we use the light of the candle to examine our fingernails.
"No, this is not because we're bored teenage girls. It's because our nails are the only reflective surface on our bodies, and with the flame representing the Divine, we're meant to reflect that light, like the moon reflects the sun."
Curious non-Jews, Jews hoping to expand their knowledge, and Jews who delight in finding ways to rekindle their love affair with their heritage will find this book a wonderful educational tool. Highly recommended reading!
Your life and your soul will be enriched by the collection of letters in this book. Buy two - one for yourself and one for a friend who has a lot of questions.