Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Review: Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People and Its History
Really interesting for the first 600 pages. Har har.
Exactly what I was looking for in terms of a book on a religion - it's essentially a narrative encyclopedia about Judaism. Goes through the Bible, religious texts, historical periods, and then contemporary practice and custom (the last bit I skimmed through). It picks out events, people, ideas, and places that you should know about to have some sort of literacy when thinking about Judaism (and by extension, good parts of Christianity, Islam, and world history). Really interesting. Each entry is anywhere from a few paragraphs to a few pages, usually brief and well written.
I almost gave it 4 stars because at times he tries to paint Judiasm as logically the best choice of religions, but then I realized he's a Rabbi, writing a book called Jewish Literacy, and my goyim self should be more surprised at how even-handed and restrained it really was.