You're no idiot, of course. You know that in the Jewish religion Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement and that Saturday, known as the Sabbath, is the day of rest. But when it comes to understanding Jewish traditions, rituals, prayers, and holidays, you feel like you're parting and crossing the Red Sea without God's help. Don't put your life preserver on just yet! The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Judaism, written in a warm, conversational style by Rabbi Benjamin Blech, is a fun and easy-to-understand primer to every aspect of this ancient faith. In this Complete Idiot's Guide, Rabbi Blech gives you:
Understanding Judaism has never been easier. . . or more important. One of the Guides' most popular religion titles, Understanding Judaism covers:
Understanding Judaism has never been easier than with this guide, which covers the major denominations of Judaism, a history from ancient times to current events, and new concerns for the 21st century.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Judaism Part 1: The World According to God
1. Oh, My God
Meet God as Judaism defines Him: Not many, not three, not two, but one all-powerful Creator who maintains a personal relationship with people. Learn why He has two different names and a lot more about His personality.
2. Man and Woman
Why man and woman are desrcibed as being "in the image of God"; why God created two sexes; the meaning of free will; and the purpose of human beings on this earth.
Why people who need peopleand help peopleare the luckiest people in the world; social relationships and their significance; the concept of mutual responsibility; Judaism, Jews, and the rest of the world
4. Law and Order
The reason for Laws and a divine "policeman"; Judaism as a religion of deed more than creed; and what part of their lives people will be judged for in the heavenly court.
5. It's a Wonderful World
How Judaism views life; life as a commandment to live, to enjoy, to safeguard, to prolong, and to treasure.
Part 2: Read All About It
6. The World's Best-Seller
Why the Pentateuchthe five books of Mosesis so universally revered and studied; its major ideas, its main messages, some of its greatest quotes, and a brief visit with its heros.
7. There's More to the Bible
Get acquainted with the great works that continue the Bible after the death of Moses. Meet prophets and kings, poets and composers of songs, as well as those immmortal figures whose struggles and spiritual conflicts help us deal with issues of good and evil to this very day.
8. The Laws and the Legends
What the Oral Law, the Mishna, the Talmud, and the Midrash added to the intellectual, spiritual, and the cultural legacy of Judaism.
9. The Later Voices of Judaism
The contributions of later scholarsBiblical commentators, legal experts, disciples of the mystical study of the Kabbalah, and masters of the "Responsa" literatureto the development of Judaism's ideas and traditions.
Part 3: The Time of Your Life
10. The Jewish Calendar
How the Jewish calendar determines years and months; why it differs so greatly from the universal secular calendar; why Judaism recognizes two different New Years; and the spiritual meaning of the weekly Sabbath.
11. The High Holy Days
What makes Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) so special; how Judaism deals with repentance and forgiveness.
12. It's Historical: The Three Feet
The meaning, the symbols, and the rituals of the three Pilgrimage FestivalsPassover, Shavuot, and Sukkotand their historic as well as their agricultural significance.
13. Feasting and Fasting
Spanning the year: An overview of all the other holidays and holy days, the happy and the sad; what they commemorate and how their meaning is remembered.
Part 4: From the Cradle to the Grave
14. "Mazel Tov": It's a Boy/Girl
From birth to Bar/Bat Mitzvah: The way Judaism welcomes a child to the world, as well as to the age of maturity.
15. Members of the Wedding
Join a Jewish wedding and understand its beautiful symbols and rituals; learn how Judaism teaches a couple how to get marriedand stay married.
16. Death Be Not Proud
Understanding the meaning of death, the secrets of the hereafter, and the insights of Judaism for coping with loss of loved ones and mourning.
Part 5: All in the Family: The Home
17. Welcome to My Humble Abode
The things that make the Jewish home differentfrom the strange little box on the doorpost, to the decoration hanging on the eastern wall, to a purposely unfinished part of the house.
18. The Kitchen
What Judaism teaches about proper diet: Understanding the laws of kosher food and why some foods should never be eaten.
19. The Dining Room
The religious rules for eatingbefore, during, and after; a guide to Judaism's suggested special means and why different foods are appropriate for each of the holidays.
20. The Bedroom
A sex manual with advice from the Bible, the Talmud, and a host of rabbis who weren't embarrassed to share their insights to make sexual relations better and more enjoyable.
21. The Child's Room
Bringing up baby with the wise insights of Judaism, instead of Dr. Spock, and learning what children owe parents, as well as what parents owe children.
Part 6: The Synagogue
22. Let's Take a Tour
Understanding the meaning, the purpose, and the symbolism of everything in a synagogue, as well as the specific roles of its religious functionaries.
23. Let Us Pray
A guide to Judaism's book of prayer and an explanation of people's daily conversations with God.
24. Synagogue Fashion
Judaism's "designer clothes" for the synagoguefrom prayer shawl (tallit) to phylacteries (tefillin); the what, the why, and the when.
Part 7: The Crucial Questions
25. What Kind of Judaism?
Which interpretation is true? The different streams of Judaism, their varying approaches to God, to law, and to life; the unanswered questions.
26. What's Most Important?
An attempt to summarize: Can we condense Judaism into a few brief words and ideas that capture the essence of this religion's teachings?
27. Any Questions from the Floor?
Twenty questionsthe Jewish version; an opportunity to learn the answers to some of the most frequently asked, and fascinating, questions people have about Judaism.
Part 8: Welcome to the Twenty-First Century
28. The Times They Are-A-Changin'
The dramatic ways life has changed for the Jews in America today; why it's "in" to be Jewish; how the three major movements of Judaism, Orthodoxy, Conservatism, and Reform, have confronted the challenges of a new age and how they've adapted.
29. Problems, Problems, Problems
The issues that threaten Jewish survival; extremism, fanaticism, and fundamentalism as the key dangers not just to Judaism but to Western civilization; anti-Semitism that camouflages itself as anti-Zionism; the causes of anti-Semitism; what happens when Jews aren't rejected but embraced and they want to assimilate.
30. The Crystal Ball: So What's in the Future?
Can Jews survive without Judaism? Can Judaism survive without Jews? What is the secret of Jewish survival? Who's right, the optimists or the pessimists, and how can we be sure of the answer?
B. Your Guide to the Best Jewish Websites
D. Jewish Organizations
E. Books I Highly Recommend to Start a Jewish Library