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This is my God [Unknown Binding]

Herman Wouk
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Cape (1960)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0018ICSM6
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Broad and Balanced Account of the Jewish Faith 17 Jun 2008
This is the perfect starting point for anyone-Jew or Christian -who wants to learn about Judaism. It is thoughtful, insightful, entertaining and sensitively explains Judaism to a broad readership
This is not simply a guide to the Jewish religion .Herman Wouk-a well known novelist and playwright - is clearly a man of the world but is also an observant Jew
He speaks about his own illuminating insights and experiences
Written in 1959 it is still equally relevant today as then . He points out the contradiction of leftwing secularists who claim that their rejection of religion is a result of the conformity in inherent therein , when their own entire ways of life and thought processes are based on conformity
He explains a conversation he had with a radical young student thus:
`She had been reading sociology and was full of terms like anomy , other-directedness , acculturation and similar jaw-breakers which she got off with athletic ease. The burden of her tale was that Judaism meant ritualism , and ritualism meant conformity which was a great evil.
`The interesting thing about my charming enlightener while she delivered her polemic against conformity , was dressed in a garb as ceremonious as a bishop's from the correct wrinkles in her sweater sleeves to the prescribed smudge on her saddle shoes. She spoke her piece for autonomy in a vocabulary of the teens as rigid , as circumscribed , as repetitious , as marked in intonation , as a litany'
His social commentary is one of observation rather than of judgement and he states for example that while his preference is for Orthodox Judaism he is unable to join the wringing chorus of denunciation of Reform and Conservative Judaism of some fellow Orthodox Jews.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The great advantage of this book has, is the readablity of it. It almost reads like a novel. It covers a huge period, in time and history, in distance and thinking, yet keeps it all within manageable proportion, eminently suitable for a layman.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Telling it as it is. 26 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the definitive book for Jews and non Jews. It tells you everything you need to know as a "layman".
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  42 reviews
102 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books about Orthodox Judaism 19 Sep 2000
By Tim Lieder - Published on Amazon.com
In 1959, Orthodox Judaism was a dinosaur. Its members didn't have to fight against being arrogant as they must do today. It took a great deal of Chutzpah for Herman Wouk to write this book where he discusses and then dismisses Reform and Conservative Judaism in a chapter. Without rancor or overt criticism he discusses these movements within Judaism but he doesn't accept them as Judaism.
That said, this is an excellent book on what Judaism means in regards to marriage, history, Israel, prayer, observance, Torah, Talmud, kashrut and study. He writes in a clear concise style concerning the daily life of an observant Jew as well as the history that went into it. Many times he argues for the education of young Jewish children in Judaism (taking issue with the refrain "they can choose it when they grow up" since it is easy to reject what you've learned but hard to learn something you should have learned when you were a child.) and against the rising tide of assimilation. He tells personal stories about studying Talmud with his grandfather and his time fighting in World War II. One particularly amusing one is how he was disappointed to learn that "an eye for an eye" meant compensatory damage payments as it was one of his best arguments for rejecting observance altogether at age 14 when he would have rather gone to Saturday afternoon movies.
A caveat in that if you are an observant Jew, you will probably not learn much from this book. This is the book that rabbis have conversion candidates read in order to make sure that everyone has a good idea as to what is going to happen if the conversion goes through. This is a great book for non-observant Jews and Jews who consider themselves Reform or Conservative, as Wouk has a talent for saying potentially explosive perspectives with enough humility and candor that you aren't personally insulted if you disagree. This is also a good book for non-Jews wanting to know what Judaism is all about.
What makes this book exceptional is that Herman Wouk's perspective is becoming a rare voice in Orthodoxy. Orthodox Judaism is increasingly moving to the right partly as a reaction to the intermarriage and assimilation of the liberal movements within Judaism, partly as a sign of formerly non-observant Jews becoming observant and finding distaste in their old lives.
Wouk's perspective was probably a standard voice in 1950s Judaism, but it is one that is not heard often enough in today's Judaism that finds itself pulled between the stark limiting observance of the Haredi and the "whatever-you-think-is-right-is-right" lassez faire of the Reform (including the Renewelists and Reconstructionists). It is easy to condemn. It takes effort to reach out without rancor or snap judgement as Wouk does in this book. This is what makes Wouk's book valuable to people who already know the material
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine introduction to Judaism even for lifelong involved Jews 30 July 2002
By Gary M. Greenbaum - Published on Amazon.com
Herman Wouk blends Jewish history, Jewish practice, and personal experience in a wonderful tour for Judaism, appropriate for nonJews, Jews, and even those who think they know it all.
While his discussions of Shabbat, Hanukah, and other observances are fine reading, Wouk reaches his peak when discussing his own and his family's experiences--his grandfather, whom he obviously admired a great deal, his father, who spent an immense sum of money (for the times) to buy the honor of reading the book of Jonah on Yom Kippur afternoon. Wonderful images of a time in Judaism gone by.
I do not find it limiting that Wouk writes from an Orthodox perspective (he assumes, for example, that only a man would wear a tallit, which is the Orthodox practice, but not the Conservative). Wouk was what he was, and I do not think he should have modified his book to an egalitarian perspective to satisfy the wolves of political correctness.
Well worth an annual read and a place on your shelf.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Judaism for everyone 24 April 2003
By Manuel Gwiazda - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A formidable book, written for everyone, from the pious Chassidim who seems to know all about Judaism to the secular Wall Street Jewish Banker who is far from his faith but feels every now and then the sweet but stern internal calling of his demanding heritage

The best chapters,in my opinion, are related to the experiences related to the secular Jewish people when they got involved in the Jewish religious rituals at the synagogue or at home during childhood, "one feels like he is telling ones own experiences when he was a Jewish kid, so unexplained and uneasy situations at that time become hilarious

Generally speaking, Wouk, who is observant, tried to be very open avoiding dogma and intended to convey to the Jewish reader the precious value of his 4000 years heritage and a way to learn how to feel proud about it.

Wouk did not forget the non-Jewish reader either, he wrote this book with simple concepts and language so anyone interested about Judaism can get a good basic introduction through these pages
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise and highly readable. 10 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
A must read for all Jews and those considering becoming Jews.Wouk gives, among other things, an understanding of why it is important to observe the Jewish dietary laws and why improvised prayer has meaning.The result is that I am now incorporating more observances into my daily life. For the first time, I see their importance. This book has changed my life.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very typical of Wouk's best work 23 Jun 2001
By Ray Barnes - Published on Amazon.com
As a Christian who is very curious to learn about Judaism, this book served as a fine introductory lesson. Herman Wouk researched this field exhaustively and relied on the expert knowledge of ordained rabbis on matters of religious law, and I think he tried to avoid overwhelming or intimidating a newcomer to this field of study with excessive details or exposition. In its directness and lucidity it has the same qualities as his other works, and after having read The Winds of War & War and Remembrance twice each, I could not resist the opportunity to delve into this book. As Wouk noted, many top quality writers have almost a conversational style - and he certainly does. Wouk's dry sense of humor is very effective. This is worthwhile not only to read through in a few sittings, but also for reference on specific topics. I also appreciated the author's attempts to explain his methods of transliteration from Hebrew, and suggestions on their English pronounciation.
I hope to use this book in doing further study. Recommended.
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