To Life: A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking

Overview

Filled with wisdom and gentle humor, here is the essential book on Judaism's traditions and practices from the bestselling author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Both practical and spiritual, Kushner makes Jewish tradition relevant to a new generation as he explores its many facets.

In a remarkable work, the author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People writes movingly and informatively on Judaism for practicing Jews who want to learn more about the ...

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Overview

Filled with wisdom and gentle humor, here is the essential book on Judaism's traditions and practices from the bestselling author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Both practical and spiritual, Kushner makes Jewish tradition relevant to a new generation as he explores its many facets.

In a remarkable work, the author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People writes movingly and informatively on Judaism for practicing Jews who want to learn more about the religion they already cherish.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Kushner, a rabbi and author of the bestseller When Bad Things Happen to Good People , here presents a wise and lucid guide to what it means to be Jewish. Distilling his extensive study and reflection, he defines the goal of Judaism as ``bringing God into the world'' by sanctifying ordinary events and by helping people to become fully human through their relatedness to others. As he sees it, God's covenant with the Jews means that God and humans have obligations to one another. Kushner illuminates this reciprocal relationship, emphasizing that people exercise free choice in what direction they take toward goodness and articulating Judaism's expectation that social justice will ultimately prevail. His exuberant approach and organic bonds to a living faith pervade this book, which includes chapters on rituals, holidays, prayer, anti-Semitism, Jews' attachment to Israel and Jewish-Christian relations. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Kushner ( When Bad Things Happen to Good People , Avon, 1983) has here written a lucid analysis of Jewish life, thought, and customs. Enlightening to those who want to learn more about Judaism, this work serves as an excellent introduction to the roots of Christianity and Jewish belief. Kushner discusses the essence of Judaism in a simple and clear language, touching upon the meaning of Jewish customs and ceremonies and the purpose of prayer. He talks about such topics as the love of Israel by Jews, how Jews and Christians need to understand one another, and anti-Semitism in terms of why people hate. The essence of the book is its tone of optimism, its sense of living and making the ordinary sacred; this tone is enhanced by an ease of writing and the use of examples and memories from the author's life. Recommended to all libraries.-- Maurice Tuchman, Hebrew Coll. Lib., Brookline, Mass.
Kirkus Reviews
Bestselling Conservative rabbi Kushner (Who Needs God, 1989; When Bad Things Happen to Good People, 1981) on the joys of Judaism. Kushner tilts this good-natured panegyric toward practicing Jews, who would be most willing to embrace his view of Judaism as God's greatest gift to humankind. "Life is the question, Judaism is the answer," he exhorts, with such ebullience that even nonbelievers may be swayed. He promotes the Jewish people, tiny in numbers, as "the most influential group on earth," producing everything from the theory of relativity to psychoanalysis to Marxism, and, through the Hebrew Bible, shaping "the way the world thinks about God." Judaism, he emphasizes, is primarily a community rather than a theology, finding expression in its own calendar, holidays, rituals, and land (for Kushner, love of Israel as the ancestral home is incumbent upon all Jews). He's at his best when justifying religious customs—for instance, he explains kosher dietary laws, which may strike non-Jews as needless complications, as "spiritual calisthenics" that "sanctify the act of eating"; the same applies to laws on sexuality, speech, Sabbath behavior, and so on. Discussion of controversies like abortion or homosexuality is glaringly absent, although he argues for traditional religious language—i.e., referring to God as "He" rather than "She" or, God forbid, "It." Kushner never minces his beliefs, explaining why he won't officiate at marriages where one partner is non-Jewish (the "words and rituals do not apply to non-Jews"). This ardency, which has much to do with the rabbi's popularity, doesn't prevent him from striking an alliance with his potentially vast Christian readership; these tworeligions are both part of "God's ultimate plan for the world," allies in a sacred battle against "apathy and selfishness and a neo-paganism that sees Man as an animal and his every urge as legitimate." Kushner at his very best, abubble with enthusiasm. L'Chaim!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446670029
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/28/1994
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 166,148
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Harold Kushner

Harold S. Kushner is Rabbi Laureate of Temple Israel in Natick, Massachusetts, where he lives. His books include The Lord Is My Shepherd, Living a Life That Matters, and How Good Do We Have to Be?

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2008

    A reviewer

    I am a Christian but i appreciate this book. It enabled me to appreciaye my jewish brothers and sisters. I have given it to families who are Jewish as a affirmation of their faith. He is a gentle respectful religious leader. I honor the way he presents the Jewish faith.

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