Your Guide to the Jewish Holidays: From Shofar to Seder

Your Guide to the Jewish Holidays: From Shofar to Seder

by Cantor Matt Axelrod
     
 

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Recent years have seen an increased interest in Jewish life, its culture, and its celebrations. There are many new students of Judaism, often potential converts or members of interfaith families who are seeking to learn more about the religion and its rituals. Unfortunately, many of the existing texts that examine the Jewish holidays are written in a dry, unexciting…  See more details below

Overview

Recent years have seen an increased interest in Jewish life, its culture, and its celebrations. There are many new students of Judaism, often potential converts or members of interfaith families who are seeking to learn more about the religion and its rituals. Unfortunately, many of the existing texts that examine the Jewish holidays are written in a dry, unexciting way, making it difficult for the reader to retain much information. For those seeking to learn more about Jewish celebrations, Cantor Matt Axelrod has written Your Guide to the Jewish Holidays: From Shofar to Seder. Intended for the reader who has no prior knowledge about the Jewish holidays as well as the reader who knows the basics about the holidays but wants to understand the holidays on a deeper level, Axelrod’s book takes a humorous, light-hearted look at the 11 most important Jewish holidays. Instead of simply explaining that Jews are obligated to observe in a certain way because of a biblical text, Axelrod shows where each holiday, along with its rituals, came from in a historical context. He provides a humorous retelling of the biblical passages relating to the holiday, explorations of rituals associated with each holiday, and descriptions of traditional foods. Your Guide to the Jewish Holidays also features special sections labeled “In Depth” or “Perfect for Families” that expand upon elements of each holiday in ways that provide greater understanding of traditions or that invite the reader to get the rest of the family involved.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
03/15/2014
If you want to know the story behind the Jewish a cappella group the Maccabeats' latest video, look to this book. If you are one of a burgeoning number of interfaith families, this guide will help you. Axelrod (cantor, Congregation Beth Israel, Scotch Plains, NJ; Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah) has a facility for making the shofar and the seder accessible to all. Without compromising their theological importance, he sets the 11 most important Jewish holidays in their historical and ritual contexts, adding wit and a bit of whimsy. In explicating a holiday, he titles sections with such headers as "The Back Story," "Let's Eat," and "The Bottom Line." Certain celebrations require additional headings such as "Come on Baby, Light My Fire." There are "Tips for Parents" and "In Depth" segments throughout. He describes the holidays also through real-life applications and scenarios such as alternatives to camping in a tent for seven days during Sukkot. The three appendixes—a "Quick Guide to the Holidays," a Jewish calendar, and a glossary—offer great value on their own. VERDICT A lighter alternative to Michael Strassfield's The Jewish Holidays, this is an excellent choice for readers new to Jewish holidays and history and anyone wishing to incorporate these meaningful celebrations into their own lives.—Elizabeth Heffington, Lipscomb Univ. Lib., TN
Booklist
The book opens with the familiar but still funny line some Jews use to describe their holidays: “They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.” Happily, this book takes things further and does so in highly readable manner. All the major holidays are covered, as well as some of the lesser ones, including Tishah-b’Ab, a day that commemorates the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Ironically (or not), it is also the day the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. Because the book is written without affectation, those new to the holidays will find it a way to understand both the meaning and the observance of Judaism’s special days. The text is full of interesting facts, from the origin of the Kol Nidre service to the story behind gift giving at Hanukkah and the derivation of Moses’ name. And, appropriately, each holiday gets a section, called “Let’s Eat,” that details the foods associated with the day (or in the case of Yom Kippur, how to fast). A good starting point for both Jews and their non-Jewish friends who want to know more.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765709905
Publisher:
Aronson, Jason Inc.
Publication date:
12/24/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
214
File size:
921 KB

Meet the Author

Cantor Matt Axelrod is the author of Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide (Jason Aronson, 2012). He has served Congregation Beth Israel in Scotch Plains, NJ for more than twenty years.

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