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

By Jonathan D Sarna

At the flip of the twenty-first century, the principal query confronting Jewish leaders in the United States is straightforward:

Why be Jewish?

Jonathan D. Sarna, acclaimed student of yank Judaism, believes that “Why be Jewish?” is the inaccurate query. Judaism, he believes, isn't really rather a lot a “why” as a way—a lifestyle, a fashion of marking time, a manner of with regards to the surroundings, to people, to relatives, 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 country of the area. The extra Judaism one does, the extra one involves savour what Judaism is.

Using the Jewish calendar as his place to begin, Sarna displays at the significant subject matters 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 position of the person in the Jewish neighborhood; Chanukah, problems with assimilation and anti-assimilation.

An crucial short introduction—or reintroduction—to the most important practices of Jewish lifestyles in addition to the various complexities of the yank Jewish adventure, this publication may be crucial analyzing for American Jews and the suitable present for the vacation season.

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

Sample text

We saw people with numbers tattooed on their arms and quickly came to understand that they had lived through the concentration camps. Many of those without physical marks, we found out, were touched by the Holocaust too. Some of them personally experienced Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass), November 9–10, 1938, when attacks against Jews reverberated throughout Germany. One who was there once described to me how synagogues were destroyed, stores looted, homes destroyed, and thousands of Jewish men rounded up and taken off to concentration camps—a prelude of horrors yet to come.

We need to remember the Holocaust, learn appropriate lessons from it, and be inspired by those tragic events to shape a better tomorrow. As I write these words, Yom ha-Shoah is coming to an end here in Jerusalem. Soon dusk will fall, regular TV and radio shows will resume, and life will return to its normal pace. No shofar will sound to mark the closing of the day, as it does on Yom Kippur, nor will the day end, as the Sabbath does, with Havdalah, the ceremony marking the passage from sacred time to ordinary time.

They look like such promising young people, so much, frankly, like you and your friends. But “they sacrificed their lives for the sanctity of the Divine name, for their people, and for their land,” as the traditional memorial prayer puts it. Esther, Aaron, and so many others died prematurely, so that the State of Israel might continue to live. And live it has. During my visit to Israel a few weeks ago, I was struck by how much had changed since 1965. Today, Israel is a first-world country, where almost everybody sports a cell phone (in fact, the first cell phone was invented there), and more than two hundred thousand people work in high-tech fields (instant messaging and the Intel pentium processor were also Israeli inventions).

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