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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Judaism, 2nd Edition

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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Judaism, 2nd Edition

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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Judaism, 2nd Edition
A Guided Tour Through the Beliefs, Laws, and Traditions of Judaism
By Rabbi Benjamin Blech
Alpha Books - A Member of the Penguin Group (USA) Inc.: 2003
ISBN: 978-1-59257-131-4

Reviewed by Boris Segel - January 26, 2009

Rabbi Benjamin Blech is a respected educator, religious leader, and author. He is also an assoicate professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University in New York City. In The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Judaism, 2nd Edition, Rabbi Blech provides a concise, readable, and and understandable overview of the basics of Jewish beliefs, laws, and traditions. This book is divided into eight stimulating sections. Each section is devoted to a specific aspect of Judaism such as the Synagogue, life cycle, spirituality and Jewish mysticism, and Jewish literature from the Torah to the Kabbalah. Along the way you will discover the basics of the Jewish creed, how a Jew lives, and a bit about the Jewish traditions that have developed over the years.

If you are Jewish, and just starting to learn about your heritage, or if you are a non-Jew interested in learning about the foundations of Judaism, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Judaism, 2nd Edition is the perfect place to start. It is also a useful reference book on the fundamentals of Judaism. After reading and studying this book you will find that you are well versed in the basic tenets of Judaism and that you have acquired a basic Jewish vocabulary. You'll understand the meaning and purpose of Jewish prayer, the fundamental Jewish Laws such as the laws concerning what is kosher and what is not, and you'll learn about the different branches of Judaism. Best of all, along the way, you'll also absorb a goodly dose of Jewish trivia!

Despite the book's title, this is not a book for idiot's - it is a book for the inquisitive seeking a solid grounding in what is a very complex and serious subject. Within the pages of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Judaism, Rabbi Blech breaks the subject matter down into digestible and understandable parts and takes what at first seems perplexing, and makes into something amazing and extremely comprehensible. Rabbi Blech's writing style is engaging and he has spiced up his narrative with short stories, examples, and insightful tidbits of information that make the text a very user-friendly book that never talks down to you or lapses into academicism. In short, if you are looking for a lively, self-contained, Judaism 101 course, this is the book for you. Once you finish this book, you'll want to read Understanding Judaism: The Basics of Deed and Creed by Rabbi Blech, as it delves deeper into many of the topics introduced in The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Judaism.

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