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Judaism For Dummies

Judaism For Dummies

Rabbi Ted Falcon, David Blatner

ISBN: 978-1-118-05370-6

Mar 2011

432 pages

Select type: E-Book



Judaism isn’t a race or even a particular culture or ethnic group. There are about 13 or 14 million Jews spread around the world, including about 6 million in the United States and about 5 million in Israel – so Judaism clearly isn’t “a nation.” So what does it mean to be Jewish? Here are the basics:
  • Being Jewish (being “a Jew”) means you’re a Member of the Tribe (an M-O-T). The tribe started with a couple named Abraham and Sarah about 4,000 years ago, it grew over time, and it’s still here today. You can become part of the Jewish tribe in two ways: By being born to a Jewish mother or joining through a series of rituals (called converting).
  • Judaism is a set of beliefs, practices, and ethics based on the Torah. You can practice Judaism and not be Jewish, and you can be a Jew and not practice Judaism.

Whether you're interested in the religion or the spirituality, the culture or the ethnic traditions, Judaism For Dummies explores the full spectrum of Judaism, dipping into the mystical, meditative, and spiritual depth of the faith and the practice. In this warm and welcoming book, you'll find coverage of

  • Orthodox Jews and breakaway denominations
  • Judaism as a daily practice
  • The food and fabric of Judaism
  • Jewish wedding ceremonies
  • Celebrations and holy days
  • 4,000 years of pain, sadness, triumph, and joy
  • Great Jewish thinkers and historical celebrities

Jews have long spread out to the corners of the world, so there are significant Jewish communities on many continents. Judaism For Dummies offers a glimpse into the rituals, ideas, and terms that are woven into the history and everyday lives of Jewish people as near as our own neighborhoods and as far-reaching as across the world.


PART I: What Jews Generally Believe.

Chapter 1: That's Funny, You Don't Look Jewish: Who's a Jew and Why.

Chapter 2: One Singular Sensation: Judaism and God.

Chapter 3: Torah, Torah, Torah: The Unfolding of a Tradition.

Chapter 4: Setting Intentions: Judaism as a Daily Practice.

Chapter 5: Jewish Mysticism.

PART II: From Womb to Tomb: The Life Cycle.

Chapter 6: In the Beginning: Birth and Bris.

Chapter 7: Coming of Age: The Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

Chapter 8: Get Me to the Chuppah On Time: Weddings.

Chapter 9: Stepping Through the Valley: The Shadow of Death.

PART III: An Overview of Jewish History.

Chapter 10: Let My People Go: From Abraham to Exodus.

Chapter 11: The Kings of Israel: The First Temple.

Chapter 12: Sects and Violence: The Second Temple.

Chapter 13: From One Exile to Another: The First Millennium.

Chapter 14: The Greatest Horror, The Greatest Triumph.

Chapter 15: Jewish Buddhists and Other Paradoxes of the New Age.

Chapter 16: The Question of Antisemitism.

PART IV: Celebrations and Holy Days.

Chapter 17: Shabbat: Paradise Regained.

Chapter 18: In with the New: Rosh Hashanah.

Chapter 19: Getting Serious: Yom Kippur.

Chapter 20: The Great Outdoors: Sukkot.

Chapter 21: Guilt or Gelt: Chanukkah.

Chapter 22: Planting a Tree on Tu B'Shvat.

Chapter 23: The Jewish Halloween: Purim.

Chapter 24: From Groan to Glee: Passover.

Chapter 25: Spring Is Busting Out All Over: Shavuot.

Chapter 26: Tisha B'Av: A Day of Mourning.

PART V: The Part of Tens.

Chapter 27: Ten Great Jewish Thinkers.

Chapter 28: Answers to Ten Common Questions about Judaism.

Chapter 29: Ten Folks You Should Know.

PART VI: Appendixes.

Appendix A: Oy Vey! and Other Words You Should Know.

Appendix B: A Sampler of Jewish Prayers and Blessings.

Appendix C: Calendar of Jewish Holidays.

Appendix D: Go Now and Learn.


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