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Essential Judaism

Essential Judaism

A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs & Rituals

What happens at a synagogue service? What are the rules for keeping kosher? How do I light the Hanukah candles? What is in the Hebrew Bible? What do the Jewish holidays signify? What should I be teaching my children about being Jewish?
A landmark reference, here is an indispensable one-volume guide to the religious traditions, everyday practices, philosophical beliefs, and historical foundations of Judaism -- everything you need to know about being Jewish. In Essential Judaism, George Robinson has created the accessible compendium that he sought when he rediscovered his Jewish roots as an adult. Robinson illuminates the Jewish life cycle at every stage, and lays out many fascinating aspects of Judaism -- the Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, the evolution of Hasidism, and much more -- while keeping a firm focus on the different paths to living a good Jewish life in today's world.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 672 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780671034818 | 
  • September 2001
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Service of the Heart: Prayer and Ritual

The Jewish Idea of Prayer

In the beginning, the Jews were a tribe, a band of nomads, probably shepherds. Had they remained merely shepherds, they would have eventually died out, one of many tiny "nations" to be found in the ancient Near East, forgotten by all but the archaeologists.

But the Jews became something more. They were the bearers of a radical new concept, ethical monotheism, and that concept became the basis for a new kind of religion, Judaism. The latter was a religion marked by a new relationship between people and Deity.

Some would say that it was... see more

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