On Being a Jew
Composed as a meandering dialogue between a wily Syrian-Jewish banker and an American graduate student of literature, this engaging book explains all the basic beliefs and practices of Judaism—Jewish teachings on intermarriage and conversion, keeping the Sabbath, prayer and Torah, midrash and mitzvot, and God's presence in the world. Although the book has plenty of the "how to" of religious practice, Being a Jew is in the end an eloquent reflection on Judaism's deepest theme: living life as a way of serving God.
About the Author
James Kugel is the Starr Professor of Hebrew Literature at Harvard University and Professor of Bible at Bar Ilan University, Israel. He is the author of Poetry and Prophecy, Early Biblical Interpretation and The Idea of Biblical Poetry, the last available from Johns Hopkins. His The Bible as It Was, an introduction to the Torah's ancient interpreters, was published in 1997.
"Ideal for students, parents, and rabbis, and those who wish to resolve what it means to be a Jew."
"This book is more than a highly readable presentation of the basics of Judaism. It is a provocative and persuasive argument that the true meaning of being a Jew has been obscured for many Jews today as well as a stirring reflection on some of the deepest themes in Jewish practice and belief."
"A compelling introduction to being a religious Jew."
"An honest, provocative and important work."
"For today's generation, this book is a necessary acquisition."
"No apologist, and no fan of what he terms the 'halfway affair'of American Judaism, [Kugel] demonstrates the deepest continuities of Jewish history."
"I hope that readers will not only savor Jim Kugel's engaging conversation about Judaism, but will participate in it."
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