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Judaism: Theology, History and Practice

A Book Review from the Epiphany Library

Judaism: Theology, History and Practice

by Naftali Brawer

Library section 7 A: The Church in the World, World Religions.

judiasm_naftali_brawer

This book explains Judaism. Part 1, Theology, tells about the Jewish concept of God (1 God, not 3-in-1); the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible); Mitzvot (obedience to biblical law); Man; The Jewish people; and Israel. Part 2, History, discusses the origins of Judaism, Judaism from the middle ages to the present, and where Jews live in the world today. Part 3, Practice, explains a day in the life of a practicing Jew, the Jewish liturgical year, and life cycle: from brit (circumcision ceremonies), bar and bat mitzvahs, to weddings and funerals. An epilogue discusses Judaism in the coming century.

Because my husband is Jewish, much of this was familiar to me. If the first part on theology seems too dry for you, flip to parts 2 and 3. Part 3 is especially interesting because it gives us a glimpse of how observant Jews live day by day: prayers, worship, kosher eating, observations of the Sabbath and holidays, and so on.

Only by exploring other faiths can we surmount the most pressing problem of our time religious intolerance based on misunderstanding or ignorance about the beliefs of others. Christianity was an outgrowth of Judaism, so we share with Jews basic law, scriptures, a similar liturgical year and life ceremonies. This book teaches you what Jews believe and how they express those beliefs, and also what Christians believe and why we do so. Lots of “A-ha!” moments here.

Interesting tidbit: On librarything.com, where our church library card catalog is online at (www.librarything.com/catalog/Epiphany-OviedoELCA), I found out that a couple in Croatia also has this book in their home library, as well as four other books in common with our library, including Roland Bainton’s Martin Luther. Their books are listed in Croatian, but the author’s names are the same.

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