What is a Jew
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What is a Jew

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  146 ratings  ·  17 reviews
With over 400,000 copies sold, What Is a Jew? is the classic guide that answers 100 of the most commonly asked questions about Jewish life and customs.

Completely revised and reorganized, this guide to the traditions, beliefs, and practices of Judaism—for both Jews and non-Jews—tackles a wide range of subjects in a question-and-answer format. Ideal for c...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published November 1st 1996 by Touchstone (first published 1973)
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This was assigned by my Rabbi to help me identify subjects that I want to study more in depth. Absolutely the best Jewish "primer" I've read as far as clarifying the differences between the four Jewish movements.

Out of all the Jewish overviews I've read, this one focuses the least on history, which was appreciated - after reading countless century-by-century accounts of the development of the religion and culture, I really felt like I was missing out on some of the fundamental spiritual aspects.
I like the book and it certainly is informative. It preferences liberal jewry over orthodox though.
Veronica Olson
Very interesting for learning about different aspects of the jewish religion and culture.
If you are thinking of converting to Judaism, this is one of the books to read.
Part of my conversion process.
I don't actually have that much to say about this book, mainly because it's an introductory text of the sort that used to exist before Wikipedia destroyed introductory texts for all time.

Okay, that's oversimplified, and What Is a Jew does have a lot of value that just going to the Judaism wiki article and reading and clicking through links until you feel you're done does not. For one thing, it's basically impossible to determine who the author of any given wiki article is, whereas this book is w...more
Feb 16, 2012 HeavyReader rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who have questions about Judiasm
Shelves: nonfiction, found
Lobstergirl found this book for me, and she did it FAST! (I have no idea how she found the book so fast. She has some fantastic searching skills.) Here's the link to the thread that found this book


I read this book when I lived in Kansas. I think someone donated it to a book drive for the county jail, but maybe I dumpstered it. I don't think I paid for it.

In any case, I read it and felt like I learned quite a bit from it. The answers were factual and not pr...more
Jul 19, 2008 Amyelyse rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone should read everything
Recommended to Amyelyse by: Gramma
This is the cornerstone of an odd library of books on judaica that were surreptiously slipped to me by my gramma. She was always sneaking me judaica to read, I have a nice collection of various torah stories in children's book form, as well as books on observances and such, and even a set of bookends of a boy reading torah that she said were uncle rick's to put them in. As far as I know I was the sole benificiary of this quirk of hers, and I kept her secret till now...though I must admit I never...more
Just finished reading this for my philosophy class- and quite enjoyed it. If you know nothing about the Jewish faith, it is a good start to gain a basic understanding. The author has revised the book, from the original author's version (I believe his uncle), adapting it to modern times. It answers common religious as well as social questions about the faith, and would give you enough info to be able to intelligibly converse about Judaism, but nothing in depth. My only complaint is that the book'...more
Amazing book for the gentiles to know about Judaism
Nancy Monson
Jan 30, 2009 Nancy Monson rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone wanting a good, basic understanding of Jewish life and religion
Shelves: religion
Went through a phase quite a few years back where I was dating a lot of jewish men (not necessarily at the same time) who couldn't quite seem to define their religion for me so I bought the book to figure it out for myself. Very informative introduction to Jewish life and religion.
I read this for a course in university. I enjoyed it quite thoroughly.
Micah Smurthwaite
A list of 100+ questions articulately answered by Rabbi Kertzer. "What is the Talmud? What is the Midrash?" Now he just needs to get on Quora.
Carla Karp
Lent to me by my dear friend Eleanor :)

5 stars, not in an "I couldn't put it down" sort of way, but in a "very informative" sort of way.
Brad keil
This will answer any question you might have about Jews.
Craig J.
What is a Jew? by Morris N. Kertzer (1996)
James Gaus
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