Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop All Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Oasis Listen in Prime Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars22
4.4 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 29 April 2009
Good intro for non-Jews, but the author generally writes as though he suspects the reader is bored arseless, e.g. at the start of the final chapter: 'We've almost made it...'

The book contains some nice photos and tables simplifying facts, dates, etc. However, after reading the book, I still didn't 100% feel like I knew and understood some of the more salient points associated with the Jewish calendar / festivals. Also, more tips on pronunciation would've been helpful for the Hebrew names.
22 comments|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 February 2002
The "very short introduction" series is useful in that the most important facts and aspects of a topic are presented to you clearly and concisely - no need to flick through pages and pages, no need to look in the index or anything. The book itself is divided in chapters such as Festivals, Why Judaism and Christianity split etc. Norman Solomon has successfuly selected the most intriguing bits of Judaism to present to us in this 150 page book.
Not only does the book provide the facts about the religion like festivals, worship etc, but also contemporary issues like Zionism and the conflicts of modern Israel and Palestine, a topic that should interest many. It is hard to find a book that deals with this subject that is not greatly biased; Solomon on the other hand makes it very clear in the introduction that he aims to present the facts of Judaism as Jews would, i.e. not from a Christian perspective, not using Christian language.
I definitely recommend this book if you are interested in the religion. However, if you want to delve really deep into the sects in the religion (which is briefly but well dealt with in this book) and other topics, buy a big thick book on Judaism rather than this "very short introduction".
0Comment|32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 August 2013
I am generally pleased with this introduction to Judaism and its main philosophical, theological, cultural, and historical components. It goes into a great depth of detail concerning the origins of Judaism and its values and historical movers and shakers and the settings in which they lived and espoused their teachings.

The first quarter of the book is focused almost primarily on the comparison between Judaism and Christianity and asking the questions of how and why they split and what is the key differences are. That being said, for someone such as myself raised tinok shenishba and with no great in-depth knowledge of Christianity either, this can be a little difficult to grip and it isn't helped by the fact that the writing is very dry and jargonisms abound throughout. For someone who wants to dip their toes into the knowledge pool they may find this work a little cold and difficult to access, for those wishing to pursue knowledge beyond this book then it's a great book to jump right into. Thankfully I belong to the latter as I wish to study with a local shul upon entrance to university next year, and this book is an excellent reference point for topics of interest to study further.

The information packed into this tiny work is admirable however. The book takes you on a journey from exploration of Jewish identity (I feel this could have been expanded on including current inter-Jewish debate on Jewish identity both in Israel and the diaspora and the cultural, historical, and secular conceptions of Jewish identity), through the history of its great thinkers and philosophers who shaped Judaism and how it is now known, taught, and lived. Through to the way its teachings are practiced, explanation of its calendar and most important festivals, and its spiritual importance.

This then takes you back through to the comparison with Christianity and modernity in Chapter 7 and 8, a comparison of Jewish denominations (I feel there is a slight bias towards the Reform movement. Despite the author being an Orthodox Rabbi, there was a denouncement of his attitude as closer to Reform, although largely personal, see an article by Rabbi N. Daniel Korobkin "When Orthodox scholarship is neither"). Then through a very small history of Zionism and Israel which could have been expanded upon, even 4-5 pages in travel books I have read are more comprehensive of these topics which find themselves in constant discussion on both sides of the political spectrum. And finally, information on Holocaust theology and law regarding abortion and artificial insemination.

The book is then capped off with Maimonides Thirteen Principles of Faith, and the Statement of Principles of the Philadelphia Conference regarding Reform Judaism, and a wonderful chapter by chapter suggestion for further reading.

I wont pretend to be able to expand on the knowledge already provided in this book, although believe there was little room for improvement and further information within. I appreciate however that the author was probably commissioned to write this and had limitations, and with that said, has done an astounding job. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in Judaism.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 3 February 2008
It must be a daunting prospect for a scholar, having to condense a vast store of knowledge into one of these little books, deciding what to include and what must go, but Solomon judges this well. He emphasizes the diversity and continuing evolution of Judaism, correcting common misconceptions about how ancient or orthodox certain aspects of Judaism are. He also lays special stress on the importance of the Holocaust and of the existence of a modern state of Israel in shaping contemporary Jewish thought.

There are plenty of basic facts - descriptions of festivals, etc - included here, as you would expect. It also raises a great many issues and cites a number of authors, making this an excellent place to begin a more detailed study, if you wished.

Solomon writes well, with a light, sometimes even humorous touch, where appropriate. He was a lecturer at Oxford when this book was first published in 1996, but is now retired, I believe. A revised edition wouldn't go amiss. Perhaps he is too busy working on his Penguin Classics Talmud, which is due out soon and should be worth reading. He is not to be confused with the American activist of the same name, although Amazon does exactly that, so that if you click on either author, you get a list of books by both of them. Take it from me, they are very different!
0Comment|8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I love these Very Short Introductions to, they are invariably spot on in finding a way into what can be some tricky issues or ideas. This one however, did not live up to expectation. It did help me out in giving me a reasonable grounding in understanding the basics of Judaism, but I felt that the author had a bit of an axe to grind about what he perceived other people thought of as 'the jews'. this is totally understandable given the long history of persecution that the Jewish people have endured from practically all other quarters of the earth, but I felt it was a little inappropriate here. These books are short and have to fit a great deal into their few pages. I would have appreciated a little more about the nuts and bolts of what is a complex set of religious beliefs and a little less, dare I say it, axe grinding. Having said that, the end section in particular, showing ways to interpret Jewish Law was fascinating, I was only disappointed that not all of the book lived up to this level of interest and information.
0Comment|7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 19 January 2016
Norman Solomon writes a wholly excellent and accurate account of Judaism as it is lived today. He correctly describes Judaism's UNBREAKABLE, and 100% right to the Holy Land of Israel, promised by HaShem to the Jewish people, by blood and religion. He is not influenced by RACIST LEFTIST FASCIST NATIONAL SOCIALIST NAZI SCUM who hate Jews and use Israel and anti-Zionism as an excuse to bash Jews and rob them of their full right to THEIR OWN LAND by spreading Socialist lies and hate filled anti-Zionist propaganda, funded by terrorists.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 August 2013
A most interesting and comprehensive introduction to the Jewish faith. Solomon does extremely well to outline the major currents of contemporary global Jewish society without failing to shed light upon more specific phenomena such as the voice of feminism within Reform movements. A good balance is struck between historical knowledge and contemporary issues. Issues such as the Shoah and politics of Israel are dealt with but are not allowed to dominate our view of this ancient philosophy - a most useful text.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 October 2012
I was instructed to buy this book at the beginning of my university course to ensure I had good background knowledge to begin with. The book certainly helped with that, although it's pretty short it includes all the basic background details you need for understanding Judaism if, like me, you knew very little about the subject. Very helpful and would certainly recommend.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 6 May 2014
A primer of our cultural history whether Jewish Christian or Islamic in the last two millennia, Something we all need to understand if not believe.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 May 2013
It explains very clearly how Judaism started, the importance of garments worn by the men, and the festivals that occur.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)