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Why be Jewish?
Jonathan D. Sarna, acclaimed scholar of American Judaism, believes that ?Why be Jewish?? is the wrong question. Judaism, he believes, is not so much a ?why? as a way?a way of life, a way of marking time, a way of relating to the environment, to human beings, to family, and to God. Judaism is experienced through ...
Why be Jewish?
Jonathan D. Sarna, acclaimed scholar of American Judaism, believes that “Why be Jewish?” is the wrong question. Judaism, he believes, is not so much a “why” as a way—a way of life, a way of marking time, a way of relating to the environment, to human beings, to family, and to God. Judaism is experienced through doing—doing things Jewish, doing things for fellow Jews in need, doing things as a Jew to improve the state of the world. The more Judaism one does, the more one comes to appreciate what Judaism is.
Using the Jewish calendar as his starting point, Sarna reflects on the major themes of Jewish life as expressed in a full year of holidays—from Passover in the spring to Purim eleven months later. Passover, for instance, yields a discussion of freedom; Shavuot, a discussion of Torah; Yom Kippur, the role of the individual within the Jewish community; Chanukah, issues of assimilation and anti-assimilation.
An essential brief introduction—or reintroduction—to the major practices of Jewish life as well as the many complexities of the American Jewish experience, this book will be essential reading for American Jews and the perfect gift for the holiday season.
A Note on Transliteration from, Hebrew
A Note on the Jewish Calendar
1 Freedom: Passover 1
2 Food, Family, and Jewish Distinctiveness: Maimuna 17
3 Remembering the Holocaust: Yom ha-Shoah 27
4 Celebrating Israel: Yom ha-Atsma'ut 41
5 Torah: Shavuot 59
6 Antisemitism: Tishah be-Av 77
7 Love, Marriage, and Declining Numbers: Tu be-Av 89
8 Judgment Without Resolution: Rosh Hashanah 97
9 The Individual and the Community: Yom Kippur 109
10 Making Choices and Improving the world: Sukkot 123
11 Assimilation and Anti-Assimilation: Hanukkah 135
12 Going Green: Tu bi-Shevat 147
13 Continuity and Happiness: Purim 155
For Further Reading 165