I have a new favorite “First Book about Judaism.” I like it so much, I’m going to add it to the required reading for my Introduction to the Jewish Experience students this fall.
Judaism’s 10 Best Ideas, by Rabbi Arthur Green, is a wonderful guide to the most important aspects of Judaism. All else: the holidays, the mitzvot, the life cycle events, the institutions – all of that! is a vehicle for learning and living these essentials. And frankly, without these ten, the rest of it is theater. Living Judaism may take many different forms, but it always begins and ends with these ten ideas.
What are they? I can give you Rabbi Green’s chapter titles, although the book will flesh it out for you:
- Simchah – Joy
- Tzelem Elohim – Creation in God’s Image
- Halakhah – Walking the Path
- Tikkun Olam – Repairing the World
- Shabbat – Getting off the Treadmill
- Teshuvah – Returning
- Torah – The People and the Book
- Talmud Torah – “Teach Them to Your Children”
- L’Hayyim – To Life!
- Echad – Hear, O Israel!
Lay hands on a copy if you can. Split the cost with a friend if need be (at less than $10, it’s a bargain.) Read it and find someone to chat with about it. It will stir up your heart and your mind and you will know where you want to go next: learning, doing, action, something.