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The 9 Books Everyone Should Read On Judaism

Whatever your religion, these are the 8 books that everyone should read to understand Judaism a little better.

#1 Seasons for Celebration by Rabbi Karen Fox & Phyllis Zimbler Miller

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From the Contributor: Karen and I wrote this book about Shabbat and Jewish holidays with the intention of encouraging people new to Judaism as well as to provide insights for long-time Jews. We also included material especially for children.

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Contributor: Phyllis Zimbler Miller from Phyllis Zimbler Miller Blog

  1. As an Episcopalian in Alabama I enjoy using this book year-round to better understand my Jewish friends’ celebrations and traditions.

#2 Beyond the Instant by Rabbi Mark Wildes

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Beyond The Instant, which aims to help millennials answer some of life's toughest questions through Jewish wisdom, such as: 

  • What is the purpose of sex in dating and relationships? 
  • How do I find sustained happiness? 
  • Why is it necessary to fail? 
  • What's my mission in life? 

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Contributor: Rabbi Mark Wildes from Manhattan Jewish Experience

#3 Eichmann and the Holocaust by Hannah Arendt

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The book provides great insight in Adolf Eichmann's 4-year apprenticeship on 'The Jewish Question'. Eichmann then lead the Nazi deportation of the Jews, and would inevitably push for extermination with questionable justifications often based on Eugenics, or advice from Jewish Councils and the Jewish Police. 

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Contributor: Shaneka Knight from The Sociological Mail

#4 Man’s Quest for God: Studies in Prayer and Symbolism

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From the Contributor: Because I deal with personal development, I love these book that help me grow and bring light and depth into my life as a person and as a Jew. As a rabbi, philosopher and civil rights activist, he brings out the humanistic aspects of Judaism, which anyone can find inspiring, regardless of faith and religiosity. 

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Contributor: Talya Miron-Shatz from Buddy&Soul

#5 Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

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The Holocaust was a pivotal aspect of the Jewish Diaspora. If you know nothing about it, you should start here. It’s a personal journal of a young Jewish girl who lived then. 

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Contributor: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics

#6 Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers by Stephanie Wellen Levine

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Most people have come across groups of Jewish men in black hats asking “Are You Jewish?” You may have seen them, but you don’t know anything about their sisters or their wives. The book takes you behind the curtain and reveals the distinct lives of these women. Women who live as Hassidim- preserving their faith and religion in the modern world.

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Contributor: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics

#7 Not in God’s Name by Jonathan Sacks

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This book shows how violence can pervert even the most sympathetic religions. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks challenges the people who claim religion is a cause of violence. This book was written as a response to all those people who fight and wage war in the name of a peaceful God.

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Contributor: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics

#8 How to Improve Your Marriage One Jewish Holiday at a Time

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This is a book that shows how Jewish teachings can impact your life in a very personal way. Learn essential concepts from each Jewish Holiday and apply them to transform your marriage.

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Contributor: Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin from The Marriage Restoration Project

#9 Tough Jews by Rich Cohen

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Most of us think of gangsters with names such as Capone, Luciano or even the fictional Vito Corleone. Or we might think of the Irish mobsters. However, when organized crime reared its ugly head in the late 1920sin New York, leading the effort were members of the Jewish community, men like Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel--bothJews. 

Rich Cohen's account of Jewish gangsters,  Tough Jews, brings to life that story of Jewish involvement in the world of organized crime. Cohen starts his history with stories heard from family members, They provided him a glimpse into a world that can barely be related to today's generation of Jews living in America. These Jews went to prison for committing violent felonies, not white-collar crimes. 

Cohen conducted extensive research through old journals, police records, and court reports to uncover some of the stories. His book serves two purposes. It reminds us that Jews in American were truly part of the immigrant experience and that they were no different than any of the immigrants who came to this land.

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Contributor: Stuart Shiffman, Retired Judge

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Written by Taegan Lion