A Time to Every Purpose: Letters to a Young Jew by Jonathan D Sarna

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By Jonathan D Sarna

At the flip of the twenty-first century, the primary query confronting Jewish leaders in the US is easy:

Why be Jewish?

Jonathan D. Sarna, acclaimed pupil of yank Judaism, believes that “Why be Jewish?” is the incorrect query. Judaism, he believes, isn't a lot a “why” as a way—a lifestyle, a manner of marking time, a manner of on the subject of the surroundings, to people, to kinfolk, and to God. Judaism is skilled via doing—doing issues Jewish, doing issues for fellow Jews in desire, doing issues as a Jew to enhance the nation of the realm. The extra Judaism one does, the extra one involves have fun with what Judaism is.

Using the Jewish calendar as his start line, Sarna displays at the significant topics of Jewish existence as expressed in a whole 12 months of holidays—from Passover within the spring to Purim 11 months later. Passover, for example, yields a dialogue of freedom; Shavuot, a dialogue of Torah; Yom Kippur, the function of the person in the Jewish group; Chanukah, problems with assimilation and anti-assimilation.

An crucial short introduction—or reintroduction—to the foremost practices of Jewish existence in addition to the various complexities of the yank Jewish adventure, this booklet should be crucial examining for American Jews and the best reward for the vacation season.

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Extra info for A Time to Every Purpose: Letters to a Young Jew

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Those kinds of cranks, conspiracy theorists, and hate-mongers have long existed and are generally not worth our time. These young people are normal kids suffering from an overdose of Holocaust education. The central fact that they know about Jews is that the Nazis sought to destroy them. qxd 38 | 6/17/08 10:48 AM Page 38 a time to every purpose reading about the Holocaust in books, listening to Holocaust lectures, viewing Holocaust films, traipsing through Holocaust museums, and trudging to Holocaust sites overseas have taken their toll.

Some Jewish leaders opposed having a special day to commemorate the Holocaust. The Jewish calendar hardly lacks for the remembrance of tragedies, they pointed out. To their mind, the Holocaust differed from previous persecutions only in degree but was rooted in the same ageold hatred. They proposed instead to add Holocaust themes to an existing memorial day: either the major fast day of the Ninth of Av (Tishah be-Av) in summer, when so many other Jewish tragedies are recalled, or the halfforgotten minor fast day of the Tenth of Tevet, in winter, commemorating the start of the siege of Jerusalem by Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar more than twenty-five hundred years ago.

In fact, not even the Bible makes any such claim! Instead, the point of kosher food, even in ancient times, was to make Jews feel distinctive and special. Lots of world religions, including Islam, Hinduism, and Mormonism, set their members apart through conspicuous food practices. Inevitably, such rules separate insiders from outsiders, those who are faithful from those who are not. Had it not been for their distinctive food rules, a small minority group like the Jews would probably long ago have assimilated out of existence.

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