The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions: A JPS Desk Reference

The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions: A JPS Desk Reference

The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions: A JPS Desk Reference

The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions: A JPS Desk Reference


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.


The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions originated from my own search for answers to questions relating to a variety of Jewish issues, and thus it is ultimately a book that I wanted to read. As proven by my own experience, I am convinced that many Jews could gain a substantially greater spiritual satisfaction from the rituals and life-cycle events they observe by understanding the profound meanings underlying them. This is somewhat analogous to reading the prayers in Hebrew. Only with a grasp of the language can one fully appreciate the depths of the prayers; only with the knowledge of how the prayers developed and interrelate can one see the brilliance and inspiration of the sages who wrote them.

The book opens with a discussion of the major life-cycle events, encompassing the first 16 years of life, from birth through confirmation, marriage, and death. The next major section deals with the Sabbath and festivals, detailing the historical development of this superstructure of the Jewish year. This is followed by a section on synagogue and prayers, which afford Jews the opportunity for a formalized approach to a relationship with the Divine. The next major topics are the Bible and rabbinic literature, the written and philosophical cornerstones of Jewish belief; and the mitzvot, which detail the prescribed daily activities and the ethical value system that are the essence of traditional Jewish behavior. Following a discussion of symbols of Judaism and the State of Israel, there are alphabetically arranged sections on a broad spectrum of topics of Jewish interest that do not conveniently fit into any other area. The final parts of the book deal with the role of food in Jewish tradition and daily life, as well as those plants and animals that are mentioned in the Bible and Talmud. For the convenience of the reader, the appendix contains a listing of the Torah and haftarah readings for Sabbaths and festivals as well as a listing of the tractates . . .

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