Russell's Reviews > Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs Rituals

Essential Judaism by George    Robinson
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's review
Sep 30, 2009

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Read in October, 2009

I really value the great effort that Robinson put in to researching and writing this book. The book is full of information and the content is intuitively organized. The first chapter's focus on prayer and the relationship with God really grabbed my attention and prodded me through the remainder of the text. I loved learning and soaked in as much as I could. I skimmed chapter 8 rather than read every detail since it's 50 pages of information on various Jewish philosophers.

I found my respect rapidly growing and upon completion of the book found that most assuredly this has increased the depth of my own faith and perspective. I certainly found many tenets of shared belief and was particularly intrigued at Maimonides' 13 Principles of the Jewish Faith ( as compared with The 13 Articles of Faith( Robinson successfully illustrates the in-depth determination, commitment, and devotion of the Jewish people and their history. He covers _a lot_ of history and while there is so much information, it's not too overdone.

In the end, I was distracted by a couple issues that prevent me from giving this more than three stars. First, there are terms that are used early on which slowed down my comprehension. They are described in more detail later in the book and also in the glossary, but it was distracting to a small degree. Second, because of the broadness of the title, Robinson appears to go to great lengths to include the major differences between the various Jewish sects and their perspectives on festivals, interpretations, and minhagim. While this is important information, sometimes it seemed like too much information. Finally, there are a lot of sidebars that sometimes proved to be distracting though their inclusion wasn't a major disruption to the contextual information.

Overall, I have come away from reading this book with an increased desire to read other religious texts of this same caliber--my soul strengthened, perspective extended and appreciation deepened.

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