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The Jewish Book of Why
Penguin Putnam Inc. / 2003 / Paperback
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"Aspects of Jewish life, including marriage, death and mourning, dietary laws, synagogue rituals, holidays, and the Jewish calendar are explained. Kolatch stresses the importance of the Talmud, respected rabbinic traditions, and the Old Testament to Orthodox, Conservative, and Reformed practices. Highly recommended,"---Library Journal. 336 pages, softcover.
If you've ever asked or been asked any of these questions, The Jewish Book of Why has all the answers. In this complete, concise, fascinating, and thoroughly informative guide to Jewish life and tradition, Rabbi Alfred J. Kolatch clearly explains both the significance and the origin of nearly every symbol, custom, and practice known to Jewish culture-from Afikomon to Yarmulkes, and from Passover to Purim. Kolatch also dispels many of the prevalent misconceptions and misunderstandings that surround Jewish observance and provides a full and unfettered look at the biblical, historical, and sometimes superstitious reasons and rituals that helped develop Jewish law and custom and make Judaism not just a religion, but a way of life. L'chaim!
Alfred J. Kolatch is a graduate of the Teacher's Institute of Yeshiva University and its College of Liberal Arts and is an ordained rabbi in the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He is the author of numerous books, including The Jewish Home Advisor.
This book is for Jews and Gentiles alike, offering an encyclopedic compendium of concise, cogent explanations of Jewish rituals and practices. Kolatch, a rabbi and author of Great Jewish Quotations, treats every facet of Jewish religious observance, including births, weddings and funerals, sabbath and synagogue, holidays from Passover to Purim and the intricacies of the Jewish calendar. He teases apart the variations that distinguish different Jewish communities and denominations, and carefully notes whether a practice derives from the Torah, the Talmudic law or custom. Kolatch's catechistic format fields queries about the grand imponderables ("Why is marriage such an important institution in Jewish life?") and the most exquisite niceties ("Why do some people remove their tefilin after concluding the Amida, and then immediately put on a second pair for the balance of the service?"). In answering such questions, he sticks to Jewish law and history; on the particularly vexed issue of Kosher dietary rules, he rejects speculation about nutritional or sanitary benefits and insists that their rationale lies in the Divine injunction of "holiness" and the Jews' destiny as a people apart. While there are alternatives to some of the explanations offered here, Kolatch writes in an erudite but straightforward style, providing an intelligent, loving introduction to Jewish tradition and culture. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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