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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 review is from: This is My God (Hardcover)
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.He also refuses to pass judgement on the 'assimilators' while fully voicing his grave concerns about the threat of assimilation to Judaism
He also points out the common roots of Christianity and Judaism and in a discussion .A good example is his discussion of the Jewish Festival of Lights : Hanukkah , which falls in the same month as Christmas and is often celebrated so that Jewish children do not have to feel that they are missing out on the Christmas enjoyed by their Christian peers
Hanukkah is observed in remembrance of the defeat by the Israelites of the Greek and Syrian overlords led by Antiochus who aimed to obliterate the Jewish faith.
Wouk reminds us what the real point of contact between the two festivals is :
' Had Antiochus succeeded in obliterating Jewry a century and a half before the birth of Jesus , there would have been no Christmas .The feast of Nativity rests on the victory of Hanukkah'
Overall this is an explanation of the religion for anyone interested to learn whatever their faith or orientation.
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