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This is My God: A Guidebook to Judaism

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  669 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
This Is My God is Herman Wouk's famous introduction to Judaism completely updated and revised with a new chapter, Israel at Forty. A miracle of brevity, it guides readers through the world's oldest practicing religion with all the power, clarity and wit of Wouk's celebrated novels.
Paperback, Large Print, 395 pages
Published December 31st 1991 by Christian Large Print (first published January 1st 1959)
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Jan 09, 2008 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melanie by: Public library - withdrawn
Probably my first formal introduction to Judaism. I read this in seventh grade.

Bought for 25-cents from the withdrawn section at the library.

A favorite quote:

“Religious people tend to encounter, among those who are not, a cemented certainty that belief in God is a crutch for the weak and the fearful. It would be just as silly to assert that disbelief in God is a crutch for the immoral and the ill-read.....Now the belief in God may turn out at the last trump to be a mistake. Meantime, let us be
Aug 15, 2014 Gary rated it it was amazing
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 contr
Adam Glantz
Herman Wouk's appeal for Orthodox Judaism is sincere, but ultimately uneven. He's at his finest when he's arguing against the naturalistic atheism that's come in and out of fashion, but is now absolutely dominant in the western world. He reminds us that naturalism can be just another form of received dogma, and there are matters for which science offers only axioms. He finds Judaism to be in accord with his values and his heritage. And it's a proven winner: Its rituals keep divinity constantly i ...more
Mar 28, 2014 Stan rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book! I learned so much from it, and not just about the Judaism. I learned about principles that help one lead a good life, not always an easy life, but a life of value and depth. And yes, I learned a lot about judaism. Wouk is a thinker of the highest caliber and has a wonderful way of expressing his points. Still, this was not an easy read for me, nor was it a fast read, but the further I got into it the less that mattered. I was enjoying the journey through this book and ...more
Jun 01, 2016 Daavid rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting to understand what the Jewish Way of Living is
This was a good book to understand about the Jewish Way Of Living. Although, written work on Judaism can go into volumes of work, with this as a concise work of writing the author has done a pretty good job.

The book is divided into four sections:
1. THE REMARKABLE SURVIVAL OF THE JEWS deals with who the Jews are and their symbols.
2. THE FAITH deals with the Sabbath, information on the various Nature Festivals (the Calendar, Passover, Sukkoth), the High Holy Days, the Minor Holy Days (Tisha B'Av,
Jun 14, 2011 Manugw rated it it was amazing

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 h
An introduction to the Jewish faith written for secular Jews and curious others.

This was interesting. What struck me the most was the focus on how you act, rather than what you believe. (Basically pretty much the exact opposite of the religion I grew up in.) And then, perhaps as a result of that, the much greater emphasis on the common law coming about as a great conversation/debate that spans centuries. It was also interesting how the author would sometimes referred to a commentary author who
Skylar Burris
Dec 23, 2007 Skylar Burris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: judaism
This book summarizes the Jewish religion, written "for people who have at least an open mind on God, and who would like to know something about the Jewish way to him." In it, Wouk reminds me of C.S. Lewis, using a clear, conversational writing style and employing numerous analogies to make his points accessible. He even engages in a great deal of apology, although he insists that Jews do not seek to convert anyone. The book is aimed at non-practicing Jews and gentiles who are "curious about the ...more
Casey Miller
Oct 13, 2014 Casey Miller rated it really liked it
This was a great book. It was recommended to me by one of my wife's orthodox colleagues as a good basic primer on the Jewish faith. Of course, even the updated version I read is a couple decades old at this point, and so I am sure that the information is not completely up to date in terms of modern practice. Nevertheless, it was a very interesting and informative read. As a Christian, my entire religion is based on the faith and scripture of Jews, and so I find it unfortunate that so many Christ ...more
Feb 04, 2009 Larry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Herman Wouk was a literary giant of the post World War II fiction genre. But at one point, in the later days of his life, he sat down and wrote a book from his heart about his religion. It is undoubtedly the simplest yet most comprehensive work on Judaism that it has been my pleasure to read. Written as a devouit believer who felt that hsi religion was something that far transcended the Holacaust, having meaning and merit for all peoples to understand and admire. Using all of his writers skills ...more
Derrick Clements
May 08, 2011 Derrick Clements rated it it was amazing
It's been a few years since I read this book, but one chapter still stands out to me: the chapter on the Sabbath. Wouk's depiction of the Jewish day of rest is equally as reverent for the ritual as it is unashamed of it. He describes his Sabbath experience as a truly empowering and spiritually nourishing sacrifice, and in a way that is unapologetic to our American 7-day-a-week, time-is-money paradigm. I hold other religious convictions close to me, but I wish I had an easier time being unapologe ...more
Feb 21, 2016 Brittney rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
I loved the theology in the first half (especially the chapter on the Sabbath), and it was refreshing to read the frankness of Wouk's personal beliefs. I had to trudge/fall asleep a bit through the legal theory and legal history; I'm out of practice I guess.
Oct 09, 2016 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, religion
I read this many years ago and have a purchased copy. It is valuable to both Jewish people and non-Jewish, as a means to acquaint and educate about a broad variety of religious practices and beliefs.
Thom Dunn
Would love to see this packaged with The Will to Live On.
Kevin Pace
Feb 06, 2013 Kevin Pace rated it really liked it
Not a bad book for someone who's taking a first look into Judaism. Mr. Wouk was born into a Jewish family but was not truly dedicated to his faith until his early adulthood; as a result he has seen the most frequent attacks against Judaism as well as a few new ones as well. He responds beautifully to each and does whatever someone who writes a book about his faith should do: he reminds us that no matter the differences between members of different faiths we will discover a good deal to admire in ...more
Jun 15, 2016 Julie rated it it was amazing
I read this years ago. In 1999, I was on a search for a spiritual community. I visited a local Unitarian Universalist Society one Sunday. It seemed entirely directed at me. It was a Jewish themed service; I was a Judeophile. The reading was from my favorite chapter in this book about the Sabbath and Herman leaving the theatre and the director and producer freaking out because there was still a problem in the second act. He went home, cleaned up, prepared, enjoyed his family and the food, slept, ...more
Mar 01, 2016 Emily rated it liked it
I have an older edition than the one listed. This book is a bit of an autobiograpy as well as the intended purpose: that of teaching the reader about the Jewish religion, the traditions as they relate to scripture, and its history. It took me a long time to read this small paperback, as I found myself finding something else - anything else - to do instead of finishing the book. The epilogue was interesting. As fascinating as I find the Old Testament, and as much as I love learning about the Jewi ...more
Carol Catinari
Dec 31, 2010 Carol Catinari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent overview/introduction to many things Jewish: history, customs, traditions, and the way things have involved. I'd recommend this book to anyone wanting more background information on Judaism. The only drawback is that it was written in the late 80s, and that dates some of his observations and remarks. Two updates to the chapters on Israel are included, and this helps. But there are still some changes worthy of noting, that are not included (for example,Reform Judaism is descr ...more
Dec 18, 2008 Todd rated it it was amazing
Okay - I didn't actually read the large print version - my eyes aren't that bad yet. :-) You might remember Herman Wouk as the writer of Winds of War and such. This is a great book for the lay person of non-Jewish background who is interested in understanding the Jewish faith.

Wouk wrote this orginally in 1959 after a secular friend asked him if he knew any good books about Hanukah as he wanted his son to learn about his heritage. It is an enjoable read written with a light hand and no small amo
Feb 22, 2008 Nate rated it it was ok
Shelves: religious
An introductory view of Judaism. Wouk is an American Jew who comes from a traditionally Orthodox family. He has lived in America and Israel and writes about Judaism from these perspectives. The book explores the history and progression of Judaism and talks about various aspects including holidays, religious practices, prayer, and views on marriage, religion, food, etc. I found that Wouk would often digress from the topic into stories relating to his personal experiences and frequently I was left ...more
Oct 09, 2012 Kelsie rated it really liked it
I read this book for a class and was expecting a boring scholarly book, but Wouk has a way of making this feel more like a novel and I loved that. I learned so much about Judaism. I am a Mormon and I really enjoyed learning of another faith. It helped me better understand the Bible better, especially when you remember that Jesus was a Jew. I would highly recommend this book to others that are exploring other faiths or would merely like to know more. If you don't know that much about Jews and wan ...more
Apr 05, 2008 MJ rated it liked it
Recommended to MJ by: Complete idiots guide
This is a great book offering a explanation into the Jewish religion. Wouk does a great job of giving the history and evolution of the Jewish faith. If you have ever wondered at all about Judism this is a great book to start reading. Although some of the analogies the author uses are a bit date, the author talks about a home costing $25,000, I beleive the book is an relevant now as it was when it was written in 1959.
Oct 12, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, history, own
I read this book for a world religions class in college ten years ago. After college I sold or gave away most of my textbooks and required reading books, except this one. I found it to be well-written and an enjoyable read. I love learning about religions that aren't my own but sometimes the books written on them are a little dull -this one was not. I appreciated the author's explanations, examples and personal experinces. It's a book I would, and should, read again.
Mar 27, 2012 Tyler rated it really liked it
This book is a bit dry at times, because it is simply explaining the Jewish history and religion. However, it's probably as well written as could be desired and the way he and most other Jews feel about Judaism really comes across. There are a few humorous bits, and he keeps a good pace. For anyone who is really curious about Judaism, it's a great read. If the person doesn't really care to learn more about Judaism, this book wouldn't fit you.
Jan 27, 2014 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, judaism
I certainly didn't dislike this book, and it does offer a personal yet concicse look at Judaism from a traditional perspective. But it's very much a product of the 50s and as such can't give a perspective of modern Judaism and modern Israel, and certain social issues are slightly off to the modern reader. Regardless, I'd recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about Judaism. It's an easy book for any beginner to read, and it's not without humour.
May 09, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Even though I'm not Jewish, I absolutly love this book and how simple it's written! It explains everything you ever wanted to know about the Jewish way of life(but were affraid to ask:-),
I loved studying world religion in high school, and am picking it up again, of my own free will, though, just for fun! I loved this book, couldn't put it down!
May 07, 2015 Miled rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion-judaism
A great book for anyone who wants to get to know Judaism and its practices. This book covers every practical field of Judaism, from holidays to going to synagogues, from Torah to Talmud,from traditional Judaism to it's dissents. Herman Wouk presented all Judaism in few hundreds of pages which is obviously not an easy task to do !!
Jul 18, 2008 Elaine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with an open mind and an interest in religion
Shelves: religous
I loved this book. I read it at the same time I was reading some other Wouk books and some of Potok's. It made those novels more accessible and enjoyable, and, in fact, opened up all kinds of interesting possibilities comparing religious beliefs. I appreciate so much having a book like this to explain concepts and beliefs that I would have no other way to access.
Mar 10, 2014 Linda rated it liked it
This book was a very interesting introduction to the Jewish faith, although I'm not Jewish, the Jewish religion has always facinated me. This book gave me a good idea of the beliefs and lifestyle of the Jews. Mr Wouk lays out all the festivals, the different sects, the traditions, his personal feelings and thoughts. I was touched by his deep love and respect for his grandfather and his heritage.
Apr 02, 2013 Al rated it really liked it
Amazing book. I read the original entitled This is My God: The Jewish Way of Life, published in 1970 by Doubleday & Company. Of course, Wouk is an amazing writer and it comes through in this book about his faith. Tremendous insight to the Jewish faith and life.
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Herman Wouk is a bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning Jewish American author with a number of notable novels to his credit, including The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War, and War and Remembrance.

Herman Wouk was born in New York City into a Jewish family that had emigrated from Russia. After a childhood and adolescence in the Bronx and a high school diploma from Townsend Harris High School, he earned
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“Religious people tend to encounter, among those who are not, a cemented certainty that belief in God is a crutch for the weak and the fearful...Now the belief in God may turn out at the last trump to be a mistake. Meantime, let us be quite clear, it is not merely the comfort of the simple--though it is that too, much to its glory--it is a formidable intellectual position with which most of the first-class minds of the human race, century in and century out, have concurred, each in his own way....speaking of crutches--Freud can be a crutch, Marx can be a crutch, rationalism can be a crutch, and atheism can be two canes and a pair of iron braces. We none of us have all the answers, nor are we likely to have. But in the country of the halt, the man who is surest he has no limp may be the worst-crippled.” 20 likes
“The only true non-conformists are in the asylums; the only radically free spirits are in the death house awaiting the chair. We live by patterns.” 7 likes
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