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What is a Jew? by Morris N. Kertzer
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What is a Jew? (original 1953; edition 1996)

by Morris N. Kertzer (Author)

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457242,285 (3.75)None
With over 400,000 copies sold,What Is a Jew? is the classic guide that answers 100 of the most commonly asked questions about Jewish life and customs. Completely revised and reorganized, this guide to the traditions, beliefs, and practices of Judaism--for both Jews and non-Jews--tackles a wide range of subjects in a question-and-answer format. Ideal for conversion students, interfaith couples, and congregants seeking answers to essential day-to-day issues.… (more)
Member:shacharr
Title:What is a Jew?
Authors:Morris N. Kertzer (Author)
Info:Touchstone (1996), Edition: 6th ed., 336 pages
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What is a Jew? by Morris N. Kertzer (1953)

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What is a Jew? by Rabbi Morris Kertzer. Library section: 7 A: The Church in the World, World Religions. This guide to the beliefs, traditions, and practices of Judaism answers questions for both Jew and non-Jew. It is divided up into the following sections: The Jewish Community (past and present); The Way of God (a life of Torah); Rituals and Customs (the warmth of tradition); Basic Jewish Beliefs (God, Torah, and Israel); Making Hard Decisions (a guide to the moral landscape); The Shape of Sacred Space (Jewish homes and homeland); The Shape of Sacred Time (festivals and fasts); Growing Up and Growing Old (Jewish life); and Judaism and Christianity (the double helix of western history).
As I read this book it was instructive for me to compare and contrast this information with what Lutherans believe. So much of what Christians do grew out of Judaism and the Old Testament, what Jews call the Torah –the first 5 books of the OT, and Haftorah, the prophets of the OT. However, while Judaism is a religion of the law, Lutheranism is a religion of righteousness and salvation as a free gift of God for all who believe in God.
I was especially struck that while Lutherans depend on a place of worship – a church – in which to express their faith, the Jewish faith is played out, day to day, in the home. So if churches were destroyed our religion would likely falter. Judaism would still remain strong because many of its rituals and festivals, including Hanukkah, Succoth (like our Harvest Home festival), and Passover are all celebrations that take place at home. I posit that the reason for this is that ever since the Jews had to flee Egypt, they have had to flee many other places – England, France, Germany, Spain, Morocco, Ethiopia. Therefore their faith HAD to be portable to survive, and the way to keep one’s faith portable is to keep it largely in the home so that wherever one is forced to move, the religion goes along. Only a minyan, traditionally 10 males, is needed for Jewish community worship.
I imagine world religions as islands in a sea of faith. We live on the Christian island. First we visit other villages (Christian denominations) on our island to see what they believe. Then, as the south sea islanders originally did, we get in our boats and discover other islands. We tour them, we learn about what they believe, and we compare and contrast their beliefs with what we hold dear. If our faith is strong, we can do this with no fear of “contamination,” in fact, it is very healthy for us to satisfy our curiosity so we know exactly what those other islands are, where they lie, and what those peoples believe. This creates greater harmony, deeper knowledge, and deeper faith for all involved. Toleration and reverence for all paths to God is the result. We can meet Jews or Muslims and not feel we should be friendly toward them only in an effort to convert them. We know something about their faith and can find beauty, great good, and solemn purpose in it. There is much to respect in all three faiths, and in most other faiths too, if only we care to learn.
It is only when members of any faith become fundamentalist, or when non-religious madmen come to power, that exclusivity and hatred result, of which the extermination of Christians in the Colosseum, extermination of Jews and Muslims in the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition’s torture and expulsion of the Jews, or the Holocaust (Jews call this the Sho’ah) are all examples.
Wanna know where many of our rituals and beliefs come from? Read this book. ( )
  Epiphany-OviedoELCA | Aug 26, 2011 |
Covers topics of sects, torah, rituals and customs, basic beliefs, morals and ethics, homes and homeland, holidays, Jewish life cycle, Jews and Christianity
  Folkshul | Jan 15, 2011 |
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With over 400,000 copies sold,What Is a Jew? is the classic guide that answers 100 of the most commonly asked questions about Jewish life and customs. Completely revised and reorganized, this guide to the traditions, beliefs, and practices of Judaism--for both Jews and non-Jews--tackles a wide range of subjects in a question-and-answer format. Ideal for conversion students, interfaith couples, and congregants seeking answers to essential day-to-day issues.

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