Books about God & Judaism

Image: Sombrero Fog Galaxy, photo by the Hubble Telescope, via Wikimedia. Public Domain.

Tomorrow night I’m going to be teaching “God, Covenant & Mitzvah,” in Intro to Judaism class. It’s a challenging topic for many, because it’s one of the areas where Judaism is quite different from many other religions.

There are no creeds in Judaism. As a rule, Judaism is much more concerned with speech and behavior than it is with belief. Judaism is a religion of doing: making the world better through actions and the careful use of language.

There are two books I recommend to students who are interested in exploring the topic of God & Judaism further:

Finding God: Selected Responses by Rifat Sonsino and Daniel B. Syme is a very succinct introduction to Jewish ideas about God over the centuries.

God? Jewish Choices for Struggling with the Ultimate edited by Josh Barkin is a wonderful little book written for adolescents. It addresses questions such as “Who created God?”  and “Does prayer work?” and “Where do people go when they die?” The answers are short answers from rabbinical students and young Jewish teachers, and they provide a nice feel for the variety of voices and opinions in the Jewish world.

These two are the best books I know for approaching the questions most people want to ask about Jewish belief. Beyond them, we move very quickly into much deeper water and heavy duty theological language. I recommend you read these two, and if you are interested in going further, ask your rabbi for suggestions!

 

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rabbiadar

Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi based in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, mom, poodle groomer, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at https://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ as the Coffee Shop Rabbi.

4 thoughts on “Books about God & Judaism”

  1. These may have what I need to read. MY journey has taken me outside the teachings I was raised to accept as “the truth.” I am working on a series of essays about how I now see the universe and our place in it and what you share often resonates very well with where I am now. The other day, I was doing a word study use of the word “faith” in the Christian Bible. When I looked in it’s translations for the part related to Torah, I found “faithful” instead of “faith.” This part above, “There are no creeds in Judaism. As a rule, Judaism is much more concerned with speech and behavior than it is with belief. ” reads very much like what I was contemplating. I need to understand more about how things changed from faithfulness to faith, (as part of the change between the two religions?). Will start by looking for these unless you point me to something more directly related.

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