Judaism For Dummies

"Jews, gentiles, non-believers, and people from all faith traditions can benefit from Falcon and Blatner's fair, fun account of Judaism."
--Senator Joseph Lieberman

Table of Contents

Explore the Jewish Faith from Chanukkah to the Kabbalah!

Part I: What Jews Generally Believe

We begin by exploring the different groups within the Jewish community, like Ashkenazi and Sephardic, and denominations, like Orthodox, Reform, and so on. Then we target two of the most important issues in Judaism -- God and Torah -- before discussing the basic practices of Judaism, like the kosher laws and what happens in worship services. Part I ends with a look at the ancient (and really cool) practices of Jewish mysticism (usually called Kabbalah).

Chapter 1: That's Funny, You Don't Look Jewish: Who's a Jew and Why
Chapter 2: One Singular Sensation: Judaism and God
Chapter 3: Torah, Torah, Torah: The Unfolding of a Tradition
Chapter 4: Setting Intentions: Judaism as a Daily Practice
Chapter 5: Jewish Mysticism

Part II: From Womb to Tomb: The Life Cycle

In Part II we discuss how Judaism honors and celebrates the major stages of life with rituals, including the bris (circumcision for boys), Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, weddings, and funeral rites.

Chapter 6: In the Beginning: Birth and Bris
Chapter 7: Coming of Age: The Bar/Bat Mitzvah
Chapter 8: Get Me to the Chuppah On Time: Weddings
Chapter 9: Stepping Through the Valley: The Shadow of Death

Part III: An Overview of Jewish History

You can't understand Judaism (or even Western civilization) without knowing something about Jewish history. But that doesn't mean that the history has to be boring! In Part III we delve into the highlights and the low points -- from the Biblical stories to modern day -- focusing on what you need to know and why you need to know it.

Chapter 10: Let My People Go: From Abraham to Exodus
Chapter 11: The Kings of Israel: The First Temple
Chapter 12: Sects and Violence: The Second Temple
Chapter 13: From One Exile to Another: The First Millennium
Chapter 14: The Greatest Horror, The Greatest Triumph -- The Second Millennium
Chapter 15: Jewish Buddhists and Other Paradoxes of the New Age
Chapter 16: The Question of Antisemitism

Part IV: Celebrations and Holy Days

Okay, so it's Chanukkah again (or Passover or Sukkot, or whatever) -- how do you "do it right"? In Part IV we explore every major Jewish holiday, from the weekly Shabbat to the week-long Sukkot. If you want to know what, where, when, why, how, or who, this is the place to look.

Chapter 17: Shabbat: Paradise Regained
Chapter 18: In with the New: Rosh Hashanah
Chapter 19: Getting Serious: Yom Kippur
Chapter 20: The Great Outdoors: Sukkot
Chapter 21: Guilt or Gelt: Chanukkah
Chapter 22: Planting a Tree on Tu B'Shvat
Chapter 23: The Jewish Halloween: Purim
Chapter 24: From Groan to Glee: Passover
Chapter 25: Spring Is Busting Out All Over: Shavuot
Chapter 26: Tisha B'Av: A Day of Mourning

Part V: The Part of Tens

If you've only got time for a quickie, make sure to put a bookmark at the beginning of Part V. We include a "who's who" of people you should know about, plus answers to common questions about Judaism.

Chapter 27: Ten Great Jewish Thinkers
Chapter 28: Answers to Ten Common Questions about Judaism
Chapter 29: Ten Folks You Should Know

Part VI: Appendixes

If you're in a heated debate with a Jewish person, you'd better know the differences between "shlemiel" and "shlemazl," and between "tuchis" and "tsuris." Don't worry, we cover all this in the Appendixes, along with a quick easy-in/easy-out guide to prayers and blessings and a calendar of Jewish holidays.

Appendix A: Oy Vey! and Other Words You Should Know
Appendix B: A Sampler of Jewish Prayers and Blessings
Appendix C: Calendar of Jewish Holidays
Appendix D: Go Now and Learn

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Note that the "For Dummies" series is a trademark of Hungry Minds. The authors make no representation other than they are the authors of Judaism For Dummies, published 2001 by Hungry Minds, Inc.