Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Jewish Reading List

Over the past two years (wow, it's really been two years; I started this journey a long time ago) I have read everything I could get my hands on concerning Judaism. This is a list of most of the books I have read so far. They explained Judaism to me, helped me with my conversion decision, and continue my development as a Jewish adult.
  • Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism and their Family and Friends by Anita Diamant - An excellent resource. Talking to a rabbi about conversion isn't that scary, but if you want more information before that step, consider this book.
  • The Everything Judaism Book by Richard Bank - Easy to read, lots of sidebars for random additional information
  • Every Person's Guide to Judaism by Stephen J. Einstein and Lydia Kukoff - It's a little dry
  • To Life! by Harold Kushner
  • The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel - I love Heschel and need to read more of his work
  • My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok - Jewish fiction might be my new favorite thing
  • The Tapestry of Jewish Time by Nina Beth Cardin - Everything you ever wanted to know about Jewish holidays. And it's a very quick read, despite the huge amounts of information it presents.
  • Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us About Building Vibrant Jewish Communities by Elie Kaunfer - No comment
  • Exile by Richard North Patterson - Don't prepare to be amazed by the writing or plot, but it does a decent job of laying out the Israel-Palestine issues for a thriller novel.
  • As A Driven Leaf by Milton Steinberg - Excellent historical fiction set in the Hellenistic Period (1st-2nd centuries CE) that deals with the conflicts between logic and religion, doubt and faith.
  • Doing Jewish Theology by Rabbi Neil Gillman - I reviewed this already!
  • When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner - I think I like Kushner's ideas, but I don't like his writing style. He isn't difficult to read and he is great for non-Jews or people considering conversion, because he is very explanatory of Jewish terms and practices.
  • Jewish Lives, Jewish Learning: Adult Jewish Learning in Theory and Practice by Diane Tickton Schuster - I have been reading this on and off for a while; I'm about halfway through and so far it is fascinating.
  • Sacred Strategies: Transforming Synagogues from Functional to Visionary by Isa Aron, Steven M. Cohen, Lawrence A Hoffman, and Ari Y. Kelman - I'm in the middle of this one right now too. If you are interested in the inner workings of congregations (how to create a community, religious education reform, adult education programming, membership engagement, etc), this book is excellent. My fiance read it a few months ago and loved it.