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The Jewish Book of Why

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Overview


  • Why do Jews eat gefilte fish?
  • Why is a glass broken at the end of a Jewish wedding ceremony?
  • Why must the chapter of curses in the Torah be read quickly in a low voice?
  • Why are shrimp and lobster not kosher?
  • Why do Jews fast on Yom Kippur?
  • Why are some Matzot square ...
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Overview


  • Why do Jews eat gefilte fish?
  • Why is a glass broken at the end of a Jewish wedding ceremony?
  • Why must the chapter of curses in the Torah be read quickly in a low voice?
  • Why are shrimp and lobster not kosher?
  • Why do Jews fast on Yom Kippur?
  • Why are some Matzot square while others are round?

If you've ever asked or been asked any of these questions, The Jewish Book of Why has all the answers. In this complete, concise, fascinating, and thoroughly informative guide to Jewish life and tradition, Rabbi Alfred J. Kolatch clearly explains both the significance and the origin of nearly every symbol, custom, and practice known to Jewish culture-from Afikomon to Yarmulkes, and from Passover to Purim. Kolatch also dispels many of the prevalent misconceptions and misunderstandings that surround Jewish observance and provides a full and unfettered look at the biblical, historical, and sometimes superstitious reasons and rituals that helped develop Jewish law and custom and make Judaism not just a religion, but a way of life. L'chaim!

"Magnificent."--Rabbi Saul I. Teplitz

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Why are there kosher dietary laws? Why are yarmulkes worn? What are the most important Jewish holidays? Can women be rabbis? Why do Jews eat gefilte fish? These questions and thousands of others are answered in The Jewish Book of Why, Rabbi Alfred J. Kolatch's intriguing primer on a major world religion.
Publishers Weekly
This book is for Jews and Gentiles alike, offering an encyclopedic compendium of concise, cogent explanations of Jewish rituals and practices. Kolatch, a rabbi and author of Great Jewish Quotations, treats every facet of Jewish religious observance, including births, weddings and funerals, sabbath and synagogue, holidays from Passover to Purim and the intricacies of the Jewish calendar. He teases apart the variations that distinguish different Jewish communities and denominations, and carefully notes whether a practice derives from the Torah, the Talmudic law or custom. Kolatch's catechistic format fields queries about the grand imponderables ("Why is marriage such an important institution in Jewish life?") and the most exquisite niceties ("Why do some people remove their tefilin after concluding the Amida, and then immediately put on a second pair for the balance of the service?"). In answering such questions, he sticks to Jewish law and history; on the particularly vexed issue of Kosher dietary rules, he rejects speculation about nutritional or sanitary benefits and insists that their rationale lies in the Divine injunction of "holiness" and the Jews' destiny as a people apart. While there are alternatives to some of the explanations offered here, Kolatch writes in an erudite but straightforward style, providing an intelligent, loving introduction to Jewish tradition and culture. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The Jewish Book of Why is designed to explain the reasons behind various Jewish customs. Aspects of Jewish life including marriage, death and mourning, dietary laws, synagogue rituals, holidays, and the Jewish calendar are explained. The author does not judge the value of Jewish customs; rather, he offers a thoroughly respectful guide to the major how, where, and when questions the average layperson may have regarding Jewish life. In pointing out that Jewish law has never been static, Wallach stresses the importance of the Talmud, respected rabbinical traditions, and the Old Testament to contemporary Jewish observance. Wallach, who also serves as reader, explains the differences that have evolved in the manner in which Orthodox, Conservative, and Reformed Jews practice their faith. Highly recommended for religion collections.-Ravonne A. Green, Emmanuel Coll. Lib., Franklin Springs, Ga.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142196199
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/25/2003
  • Series: Compass Series
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 129,160
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author


Rabbi Alfred J. Kolatch is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He is the author of numerous books including The Second Jewish Book of Why, The Jewish Book of Why: The Torah, Handbook for the Jewish Home, The New Name Dictionary, and The Jewish Child's First Book of Why.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
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(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2006

    Easy to understand

    I have a couple of much bigger volumes on Judaism, but this book is great because the book is in Q&A style organized by topic. The answers are not overly lengthy nor cumbersome and are easy to read and understand.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2000

    If we have questions they have the answers!

    This book is wonderful. It helps you with some questions you may have about customs and traditons about judaism or maybe just about life! The answers are easy to understand, and the questions are some that people may be afraid to ask, thinking people will consider them uneducated. Read this book and youll know many things about Jewish lifestyles and customs.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 8, 2010

    Always brisk, and never in doubt

    There's a niche, and it needed filling. Some answers are about tradition, some about ritual, some about dogma. The answers are always brisk and never in doubt. But I'm inclined to ask "Are they so? Are they good? Should we care?"

    The occasional conflict between one rule and another makes clear why serious scholars of the Talmud become crackerjack lawyers - they spend all their days studying and debating these matters.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews

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