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Jewish Traditions
Cover of Jewish Traditions
Jewish Traditions
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Thanks to these generous donors for making the publication of this book possible:
Miles z"l and Chris Lerman; David Lerman and Shelley Wallock

The bestselling guide to understanding Jewish traditions, now in paperback

This is a comprehensive and authoritative resource with ready answers to questions about almost all aspects of Jewish life and practice: life-cycle events, holidays, ritual and prayer, Jewish traditions and customs, and more. Ronald Eisenberg has distilled an immense amount of material from classic and contemporary sources into a single volume, which provides thousands of insights into the origins, history, and current interpretations of a wealth of Jewish traditions and customs.

Divided into four sections—Synagogue and Prayers, Sabbaths and Festivals, Life-Cycle Events, and Miscellaneous (a large section that includes such diverse topics as Jewish literature, food, and plants and animals)—this is an encyclopedic reference for anyone who wants easily accessible, accurate information about all things Jewish. Eisenberg writes for a wide, diversified audience, and is respectful of the range of practices and beliefs within today's American Jewish community—from Orthodox to liberal.

Thanks to these generous donors for making the publication of this book possible:
Miles z"l and Chris Lerman; David Lerman and Shelley Wallock

The bestselling guide to understanding Jewish traditions, now in paperback

This is a comprehensive and authoritative resource with ready answers to questions about almost all aspects of Jewish life and practice: life-cycle events, holidays, ritual and prayer, Jewish traditions and customs, and more. Ronald Eisenberg has distilled an immense amount of material from classic and contemporary sources into a single volume, which provides thousands of insights into the origins, history, and current interpretations of a wealth of Jewish traditions and customs.

Divided into four sections—Synagogue and Prayers, Sabbaths and Festivals, Life-Cycle Events, and Miscellaneous (a large section that includes such diverse topics as Jewish literature, food, and plants and animals)—this is an encyclopedic reference for anyone who wants easily accessible, accurate information about all things Jewish. Eisenberg writes for a wide, diversified audience, and is respectful of the range of practices and beliefs within today's American Jewish community—from Orthodox to liberal.

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About the Author-
  • Dr. Ronald Eisenberg is the author of Jewish Traditions: A JPS Guide.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 11, 2004
    A number of different handbooks exist to help Jews observe the many holiday rituals and life cycle events required by Jewish tradition. Eisenberg, who is not a rabbi but rather a radiologist and a lawyer, produces a major volume that attempts to encompass all the rituals in one useful compendium. He begins with the traditions associated with the ages and stages of life from birth to death; moves to a consideration of Sabbath and festivals; and follows with a section on the synagogue and prayer. A segment on the Bible and rabbinic literature interrupts the discussion of rituals but it is then resumed by identifying prescribed daily activities (mitzvot)
    . Before getting to the dietary laws and the role of food in Jewish tradition, Eisenberg deals with miscellaneous topics such as symbols, superstition and conversion. One appendix lists the Torah portions for weekly readings, holidays and special Sabbaths; a second sets forth the tractates of the Talmud and their topics. The presentation shows a great deal of research, and Eisenberg's behavioral prescriptions sensitively take into account differences among the various Jewish denominations. Like an encyclopedia, this is not a book to read from cover to cover. Instead, it is a handy and readable reference, based on the Jewish contention that creed follows deed and that behavior precedes belief.

  • Booklist

    March 1, 2005
    The ongoing debate about the growing role of religion in American life raises another important issue: the urgent need to understand the beliefs and practices of each of the many religions in our multicultural society. This highly informative work covers the major elements of Jewish life, including life-cycle events (birth, bar and bat mitzvah, marriage, divorce, parenting, and death), the Sabbath and holidays, the synagogue, prayer, and the Bible and Jewish literature, among many other topics. In addition, the volume surveys a variety of other fascinating issues, including popular superstitions, attitudes toward specific foods and animals, the Israeli flag, and conversion to Judaism. Informative sidebars scattered throughout the book provide more specific information on a variety of Jewish practices and customs; a "Notes" section offers useful bibliographical references from each chapter to other pertinent works. The book concludes with a long bibliography, a list of weekly and holiday Torah readings, and an excellent keyword index.

    Although " Seasons of Our Joy: A Handbook of Jewish Festivals " (Bantam, 1982) is more graphically pleasing, " The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions " is a much more comprehensive work. The author has done a masterful job in distilling the major beliefs and practices of a 3,000-year-old religion into lively and informative prose and in creating an accessible, essential reference work. Highly recommended. (Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2005, American Library Association.)

  • Jewish Exponent "The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions is the jewel in the crown, to date, in the esteemed ... reference series. It's the perfect gift for the curious Jew, scholar or layperson."
  • Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin, author of Putting God on the Guest List "... offers a startling range of wisdom, history, and nuance behind every Jewish custom."
  • Francine Klagsbrun, author of The Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day "... a reference work for all time—clear, complete, and compelling."
  • Rabbi Reuven Hammer, author of Entering the High Holy Days "... a one-volume work that enables [us] to find information on virtually any aspect of the tradition — the festivals, the cycle of life, and ethical behavior."
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    The Jewish Publication Society
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