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Living a Jewish Life: Jewish Traditions, Customs, and Values for Today's Families

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Overview

Living a Jewish Life describes Judaism as not just a contemplative or abstract system of thought but as a blueprint for living fully and honorably. This new edition builds on the classic guide, which has been a favorite among Jewish educators and students for years. Enriched with additional resources, including online resources, this updated guide also references recent changes in the modern Jewish community, and has served as a resource and guide for non–Jews as well as Jews.

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Overview

Living a Jewish Life describes Judaism as not just a contemplative or abstract system of thought but as a blueprint for living fully and honorably. This new edition builds on the classic guide, which has been a favorite among Jewish educators and students for years. Enriched with additional resources, including online resources, this updated guide also references recent changes in the modern Jewish community, and has served as a resource and guide for non–Jews as well as Jews.

Addressing the choices posed by the modern world, Living a Jewish Life explains the traditions and beliefs of Judaism in the context of real life. It explores the spectrum of liberal Jewish thought, from Conservative to Reconstructionist to Reform, as well as unaffiliated, new age, and secular. Celebrating the diversity of Jewish beliefs, this guide provides information in ways that readers can choose how to incorporate Judaism into their lives.

Readers will learn how to choose the right synagogue, and discover the meaning and significance of lighting Sabbath candles. "Shabbat," "Torah," "kosher," "mitzvah" and other key words are all defined in all of their complex and potent meanings.

On the most basic level, this book explains the essential Jewish vocabulary, but more importantly, LIVING A JEWISH LIFE is a sensitive and comprehensive introduction that reveals the timeless nature of Jewish tradition, rich with history and relevant in the modern world.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061173646
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/27/2007
  • Edition description: Revised and Updated Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 152,909
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Anita Diamant

Anita Diamant is a prize-winning journalist whose previous books include The New Jewish Wedding and The New Jewish Baby Book.

Biography

Anita Diamant is an award-winning journalist and the author of several bestselling novels (The Red Tent, Good Harbor, The Last Days of Dogtown, Day After Night), a collection of essays (Pitching My Tent, and six nonfiction guides to contemporary Jewish life.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Anita Diamont:

"Modern dance concerts inspire me like little else. I'm amazed at the creativity and the range of the human imagination in the human body. Along a similar vein, I tend to prefer contemporary art museums and galleries for the visual/mental kick-in-the-pants. I don't go in expecting to like everything I see; I'm just... looking!"

"I unwind by walking on the beach. Sky, sea, sand, rocks, birds -- the great noisy emptiness. Nothing like it."

"I'd rather be home, or close to home. Traveling around the US or abroad is fascinating, but I lack the bug or gene that inspired people to visit the four corners of the globe. I'm not uncurious, honest. Maybe I'll grow into it..."

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    1. Hometown:
      Boston, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 27, 1951
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      M.A. in English, SUNY, Binghamton, NY, 1975; B.A. in Comparative Literature, Washington Univ., St. Louis, MO, 1973.
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Home

The Jewish home has been called a mikdash ma'at, a little sanctuary. It is an evocative image. From the moment you walk through the doorway of a sanctuary, you know you are entering a place that defies the idea that space is always neutral.

A sanctuary looks different from other places. It is defined and ornamented by ritual objects, books, and art. A sanctuary feels different from the workplace and the marketplace. In a sanctuary, the mundane criteria for success and failure fall away. What matters is not what you do but who you are.

A sanctuary is a place of safety and asylum. It is where the dispossessed go for shelter, where the hungry go for food, where the weary find rest. Sanctuaries are filled with voices, sometimes singing in unison, sometimes raised in disagreement. And sometimes, a sanctuary is as still as a garden.

Today, when many American families feature two wage-earners and a constant juggling of roles, needs, and schedules, making a home into a sanctuary seems more difficult than ever — and more important. The tools for making a home into a mikdash ma'at are the mitzvot described in the following pages.

"A Little Sanctuary" elaborates the Jewish vision of the peaceful home as a place of hospitality and beauty. "Shabbat — The Sabbath" is an introduction both to Judaism's core insight and to creating a personal and family day of rest. "Good Deeds" explains the Jewish view of charity and social justice, and how they can be incorporated into daily life. "The People of the Library"is divided into two sections: the first defines and explains some of the major Jewish texts, such as the Bible, Torah, Talmud, and Midrash; the second contains suggestions for building a home library. "What Jews Eat" explains the Jewish dietary laws and their contemporary relevance and practice. Finally, "Travelling Jewish" discusses the portability of the insights and practices of the Jewish home.

No sanctuary is perpetually filled with all the beauty or meaning it might contain. No home is ever fully or finally a sanctuary. But the ongoing process of making Jewish choices is what makes a home into a mikdash ma'at, a little sanctuary, an island of peace, a safe harbor, a beautiful Jewish place.



Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, when people live together as one.

Psalm 133                 


Living a Jewish Life: Customs and Values for Today's Families. Copyright © by Anita Diamant. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 28, 2012

    Academically focused but great.....

    This book is a great but certainly for 'heavy hitters'. Although the author conveys principles fluidly, she details instructional practices with a dry delivery. For someone interested in a serious study for initially returning to traditional Jewish observance, I would recommend this book. For readers that are interested in more of an overview, and a light read, this is not a great selection.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2011

    highly recommended

    Great read good insight and information

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2014

    Love this boom

    Highly recomend

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    Posted February 18, 2011

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    Posted May 27, 2011

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