How did the Ten Lost Tribes become lost? Are circumcisions performed in the Sabbath? Which country first granted Jews Equal rights? When was polygamy outlawed for Jews? Why does Jewish law compare gossiping to murder? All the answers are here. Jewish Literacy, written by an esteemed rabbi, is a compendium of 346 short chapters on the essential trends, concepts, and personalities of Jewish history, religion and culture. This is a reference book designed to be read straight through. Encyclopedic in scope yet arranged by subject, it distills a vast body of scholarship into a warm, readable review. Its 15 sections discuss: History and Contemporary Life: From the biblical and talmudic periods through the Spanish Inquisition up through modern times, with special sections on the Holocaust, Israel, and American Jewish life. Beliefs, Ethics, and Rituals: From monotheism to Judaism's views on the afterlife, "choseness," and human relations with G-d; ethical concerns ranging from the proper treatment of animals to the real meaning of "an eye for an eye" along with explanations of the major prayers and synagogue practices. Jewish Holidays and Life Cycle: The origins and distinctive customs of each holiday, and the rites sanctifying every major life event from circumcision and baby-naming to burial and mourning. Authoritative and rigorously scholarly, yet leavened with folklore, anecdotes, and humor, Jewish Literacy is the "core curriculum" of Judaism. This is the book for everyone who wants a solid overview of the fundamentals of Judaism or who feels that his or her Jewish education is incomplete.
by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin