The Complete Idiot's Guide to Jewish History and Culture

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Jewish History and Culture

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by Benjamin Blech, Rabbi Benjamin Blech

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ISBN-10: 0028627113

ISBN-13: 9780028627113

Pub. Date: 12/23/1998

Publisher: Alpha Books

You're no idiot, of course. You're intrigued by Judaism -- who wouldn't be? But whenever you try to get some insights into this fascinating religion, you come up empty ... Don't stop believing! The Complete Idiot's Guide to Jewish History and Culture, Second Edition, gives you an overview of important movements, moments, and people in Jewish history -- from Abraham to


You're no idiot, of course. You're intrigued by Judaism -- who wouldn't be? But whenever you try to get some insights into this fascinating religion, you come up empty ... Don't stop believing! The Complete Idiot's Guide to Jewish History and Culture, Second Edition, gives you an overview of important movements, moments, and people in Jewish history -- from Abraham to Zionism.

Product Details

Alpha Books
Publication date:
Complete Idiot's Guide Series
Product dimensions:
7.38(w) x 9.08(h) x 0.97(d)

Table of Contents

Part 1: Who Are the Jews?

1: That's Funny, You Don't Look Jewish Discover what does--and what doesn't--define the identity of a Jew: Are Jews a race, a nation, a religion or a Chosen People?

2: My Son the Doctor and Other Jewish Types Recognize the different types and characteristics of Jews and learn what makes them so "Jewish."

3: The Children of Israel Don't All Live in Israel Understand the special relationship Jews have to Israel and why they nevertheless live scattered around the globe.

Part 2: In the Beginning

4: Happy Birthday to the World: From Adam to Abraham Discover the fascinating insights and lessons Jews learn from the stories of creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and the first generations of human history.

5: At Last the Jews: From Abraham to Moses Find out how monotheism began with Abraham and was transmitted by the founders of the faith to a family that would eventually become the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

6: Let My People Go: The Birth of a Religion Learn how one man altered history as he freed a horde of slaves, fashioned them into people, and gave them a code of law with a new vision of ethics and morality that was to transform the entire world.

7: Welcome to the Promised Land Follow the journey of a people as they conquered a land which was to define their uniqueness, their aspirations, and their gifts to civilization.

Part 3: Judges, Kings, Prophets--Those Were the Days

8: From Judges to Kings Get to know the fascinating figures--from the Jewish "Joan of Arc" (Deborah), to the schizophrenic King Saul--who turned a small group of tribes into a powerful kingdom.

9: Father and Son: David and Solomon Thrill to the wonders of Jewry's most glorious era and weep as you discover the corruptive influence of absolute power.

10: The Prophets: Hello...This Is God Calling Be stirred by the spiritual greatness of men who lived in our midst bearing the message of God, a message whose "still small voice" reverberates to this very day with its divine wisdom.

Part 4: Confronting Empires: Babylonia, Persia, Greece, and Rome

11: Surving the Destruction of the Temple See how a people found ways to deal with tragedy, exile, and the threat of near total annihilation while preserving their ancient traditions.

12: Hellenists and Hanukkah Find out what happened when two glorious cultures clashed in a seeming fights to the finish--and why the flame of the Jewish spirit was not extinguished.

13: Romans and the (Jewish) Christian Messiah Understand how the mighty Roman empire was instrumental both in bringing the idea of Messiah to life and Jesus to death--and why Jews and Christians differ so greatly about the meaning of this event.

14: The Talmud Instead of the Temple Share in the secret of Jewish survival as those who are to be exiled for centuries compose a work more precious than land and more valuable than country.

Part 5: The Crescent and the Cross

15: The Crescent of Brotherhood Be pleasantly surprised by the friendship and brotherhood possible between Arab and Jew as a Golden Age flowers with fruits of great scholarship, both spiritual and secular.

16: The Cross of Shame: Western Europe Learn how the Dark Ages inflicted unspeakable cruelty against the Jews, often in the name of religion, and left a legacy of guilt for the perpetrators and endless wanderings for the victims.

17: An Offer Too Good to Refuse: Eastern Europe Meet the world of Russian and Polish Jewry, as weary travelers come to lands that at first offer welcome, warm hospitality and the opportunity to develop a form of independent self-government.

18: Saving Our Souls: Spiritual Responses to Persecution Discover the daring new approaches to spirituality-from the mystics of the secret world of Kabalah to the merry storytellers and sages of the Hasidic movement-whose insights and influences would in due time help to shape modern Jewry.

Part 6: Emancipation and Enlightenment

19: The French Revolution Frees the Jews Learn how the cry of "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite" stirred a revolution not only for France, but for Jews around the world as well.

20: When the Walls Came Tumbling Down: Germany See how the confining walls of the ghetto, as both physical and mental realities, were finally broken in that very land that in the twentieth century would become identified with the Holocaust.

21: The Yiddish British: From Shylock to Lord Be intrigued by the slow pace in which Jews were allowed to become part of English life--politically, socially, culturally--and shed their image of Shylock.

22: America the Beautiful Find out why Jews believe the United States is truly "One Nation Under God," blessed with special divine protection and blessing, because of its unique status among all the nations of the world as a special haven of freedom.

23: East Side, West Side, All Around the Globe Journey to the world of Fiddler on the Roof and the "shtetel," travel on to the major countries and cities of the world, and see how an ancient people moved forward on the road to Eternity.

24: The Ten Lost Tribes? Take some fascinating detours to places where you would never expect to find even a single Jew--and wonder whether the Ten Lost Tribes might not have found their way back to a few of the most unusual spots on earth.

Part 7: Death and Rebirth: The Twentieth Century

25: The Final Solution Try to understand the horrors of the Holocaust, the response of the world and the Jewish people and the lessons that can be learned from this dark page of history so that we never again repeat it.

26: The Final Return Be a witness to the miraculous return of a people to their original homeland after an absence of almost two thousand years as the Zionist dream is transformed into the modern-day State of Israel.

27: Israel at Fifty Celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of modern Israel by reviewing its struggles, its victories and its achievements as well as by reflecting on the lives of its major heroes.

28: What Have the Jewish People Accomplished? Review the achievements of this amazing people of survivors and grasp the awesome scope of their gifts to the civilized world in spite of ongoing oppression and hatred.

Part 8: The Hall of Fame: A Jewish Who's Who

29: Welcome To Hollywood Be amazed by the major role Jews played in creating Hollywood as we know it, from the "founding fathers" who created the most important studios to the stars (with non-Jewish sounding names, so you might not recognize them), the directors, producers and writers who gave us the cinema's version of "The American Dream."

30: Let Me Entertain You Meet the Jewish entertainers who have added so much to our culture-the stars of radio and TV, the Yiddish and Broadway theatre, the musicians and singers, as well as the heroes of the world of sports.

31: The Doctor Is In Find out why the healing arts of medicine, for the mind as well as the body, have been so tremendously influenced by Jews and note some of their most important contributions, which have been acknowledged by Noble Prizes and that have changed the practice of medicine and psychiatry.

32: Changing The World Let the final chapter give you a broad sense of the impact Jews have had on the fields that define Western culture and civilization--science, literature, the arts, and philosophy-in order to fully appreciate their lasting contributions and legacy to the world.


A: How Many Jews Are There? A Population Guide
B: If You Want To Be Even Smarter: Suggested Reading List


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