Completed in December 2013, just weeks before he passed away, WHY BE JEWISH? Read more...
Completed in December 2013, just weeks before he passed away, WHY BE JEWISH? expresses Edgar Bronfman's awe, respect, and deep love for his faith and heritage. Bronfman walks readers through the major tenets and ideas in Jewish life, fleshing out their meaning and offering proof texts from the Jewish tradition gleaned over his many years of study with some of the greatest teachers in the Jewish world.
With honesty, poignancy, and passion, Bronfman shares In WHY BE JEWISH? insights gleaned from his own personal journey and makes a compelling case for the meaning and transcendence of a secular Judaism that is still steeped in deep moral values, authentic Jewish texts, and a focus on deed over creed or dogma.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-01-11
- Reviewer: Staff
The late Bronfman’s (1929–2013) last work effectively conveys “the deep and absorbing love” for Judaism that he found late in life. The book more than meets his stated goal of creating an accessible introduction for secular Jews seeking ways of finding meaning in their heritage without having to believe in God. He does so through a “distillation of the elements of Judaism” he most values, such as asking questions, performing acts of social justice, and engagement with Jewish texts, philosophy, history, and art. Little here will be new for readers who are already familiar with the Jewish Bible and ritual observance. His section on questioning authority, for example, makes much use of Moses and Job. Not all sections work equally well; transforming the escalation of the 10 plagues in Egypt into a business lesson to “be relentless” will strike some as a stretch. Bronfman also offers personal prescriptions by injecting anecdotes from his youth and taking pride in the legacy of his training program for young Jewish leaders; it has led to some remarkable initiatives, exemplifying the principles he emphasizes. This is a fantastic rumination on the principles and practices of Judaism for anyone interested in Jewish faith and culture. (Mar.)