Judaism for the World: Reflections on God, Life, and Love

Yale Univ. Sept. 2020. 408p. ISBN 9780300249989. $30. REL
Central to the Jewish faith is the ongoing study of the Torah and Judaism’s sacred texts. “ ‘Who is wise?’ the ancient rabbis asked. ‘One who learns from every person.’ ” This inclusive statement seemingly encompasses beliefs within Christianity and Islam, and toward that end, Green (philosophy & religion, Hebrew Coll.; Keter) seeks to elucidate Jewish beliefs in a scholarly account that remains accessible to all faiths. Essays are divided into three sections, reflecting inwardly on the “Soul,” outwardly on the Jewish “Year,” and universally on the “World.” Judaism is posited as a balm for the soul, “religion as a set of tools for the purpose of cultivating interiority, the life of the spirit.” Green identifies as a “neo-hasidic heterodox traditionalist,” and if this label is daunting, this book will prove challenging. The work strives for accessibility but will mostly appeal to academics or those with a solid knowledge base of Judaism. Hebrew and Yiddish words appear throughout. There is also a glossary of Hebrew and Yiddish terms; although defined in the back matter, footnotes would have greatly improved text comprehension for novices.
VERDICT This contemporary analysis of tenants of the Jewish faith will be welcomed by informed and ambitious readers of religion and Judaic studies.
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