Books & Publishers
Publishers & Booksellers
Recommended Books and Publishers
The question I am most frequently asked is, "Where can I find a book on..."
Below is information about some of the resources I have used in compiling
the information on this site.
|All of the books listed below can be purchased from the online bookseller
amazon.com by clicking the links. You can help support the Judaism
101 website by using the links below to purchase these and other
books from Amazon.
Suitable For Beginners
A New Translation of the Holy Scriptures, Jewish Publication Society
There can be no resource more important than a text of the Bible itself.
Those who cannot read Hebrew should use a translation prepaed by Jews, with
the Jewish understanding of the scriptures in mind and without a Christological
bias. This version, often reffered to as the JPS translation, is the first
and most commonly used Jewish translation into English. The language is somewhat
archaic, with a feel somewhat similar to the KJV.
Pentateuch and Haftorahs, Soncino Press
The complete text of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy,
along with the haftarot that go with each parshah. The pointed Hebrew text,
along with complete cantillation (musical notation) is displayed side-by-side
with the JPS English translation. The text is extensively annotated; footnotes
routinely occupy one-third of each page, compiling information from a wide
variety of traditional Jewish commentaries on the Bible. Sometimes reffered
to as the Soncino Chumash. This is the book used by most Orthodox synagogues,
and many non-Orthodox synagogues.
Stone Tanach, Mesorah Publications
First published less than two years ago, the Stone Tanach is already becoming
a standard reference material. Like the Soncino Chumash, the Stone Tanach
has pointed, cantillated Hebrew text along side a Jewish translation of the
text, but unlike the Soncino, this book contains the full text of the Jewish
scriptures, not just the first five books plus haftarot. It also contains
a number of useful charts and illustrations, and is very well indexed. The
one down side: the commentary is less extensive than that in the Soncino.
Be a Jew, Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin, Basic Books
Unquestionably the best resource on Orthodox Jewish belief and practice that
is readily available to the general public. Donin begins with an extensive
discussion of Judaism's underlying beliefs and ethical structure, then proceeds
to discuss Shabbat, kashrut, family life, holidays, marriage, divorce, death
and mourning, and many other important aspects of Jewish practice. Donin
provides complete details on Orthodox customs as well as the elements necessary
to fulfill the various commandments related to each of the subjects he discusses.
The companion volume,
Pray as a Jew, is also an excellent resource, but somewhat technical
for a beginner.
Jewish Primer (Hardcover), Rabbi Dr. Shmuel Himelstein, Facts on File,
also available in
An excellent beginner's resource on Jewish belief and observance, written
in a very readable question-and-answer style. It covers many of the same
subjects that Donin does, but addresses Reform, Conservative and
Reconstructionist practice as well as Orthodox. It provides far less detail
on the intricacies of observance than Donin's work does.
Judaism, Milton Steinberg, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
A concise discussion of Jewish belief, presenting and contrasting the traditional
and modern perspectives. It discusses Torah, G-d, life, the Jewish people
and our relation to the other nations, Jewish practice, Jewish law, and the
World to Come. One of the things I like most about this book is that it shows
the commonality underlying the various Jewish movements, and the fact that
all Jewish movements have more in common with each other than any has with
any other religion.
First Jewish Catalog, Richard Siegel et al, Jewish Publication Society
A funky, hands-on approach to traditional Jewish observance, with a very
Sixties feel about it. It's a little hippy-dippy for my taste (make your
own kiddush wine!), but it has a lot of very good information, it's a lot
of fun, and it's just too popular not to mention. If you like this, you may
also like the
Jewish Catalog and the
Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten, Pocket Books
This is the first Jewish book I ever owned, and it holds a special place
in my heart. Rosten describes this work as a lexicon of the Yiddish language,
but it is vastly more than that. It is an extraordinary collection of Ashkenazic
Jewish wit, wisdom and culture that manages to capture the Jewish soul better
than any other book I have ever seen. The book uses common Yiddish words
as a jumping off point for presenting a Jewish joke or story, or just for
discussing a Jewish custom or practice. This is not written from a traditional
perspective, but is generally respectful of the traditional perspective.
Civilization and the Jews, Abba Eban, Summit Books
From the PBS series of the same name. The history of the Jewish people from
the time of Abraham to the present, relying on both biblical evidence and
modern archaeological finds, with extensive illustrations.
Cookery, Leah W. Leonard, Crown Publishers
Traditional Ashkenazic recipes for holidays and all year round. All of the
recipes are kosher. There is a special section for Passover recipes. The
book contains a brief discussion of holiday food customs and the laws of
Jewish Fake Book, Velvel Pasternak, Tara Publications
This is an excellent collection of Jewish music, including shabbat and holiday
songs, liturgical songs, Yiddish and Israeli folk songs, Klezmer music, wedding
music and even some Sephardic tunes. Many of the MIDIs on this site were
created with the assistance of the arrangements in this book. For those
unfamiliar with fake books: a fake book has only the melody line, chords,
and lyrics, rather than a complete piano arrangement.
Artscroll Siddur (Siddur Kol Yaakov) (Hardcover), Mesorah Publications,
also available in
This is the one that I did not get in a regular bookstore; I got it from
a synagogue gift shop. It is an Orthodox daily prayer book, with beautiful,
easy-to-read Hebrew text, plain English translations, detailed commentary,
and extensive explanation of what to do (it even tells you when to sit down,
stand up, bow, etc.) The Artscroll series has an extensive line of similar
Jewish books, all of which share these fine qualities. I highly recommend
their excellent Passover Haggadah, which I have been using for 10 years.
For More Advanced Study
Essential Talmud (Hardcover), Adin Steinsaltz, Basic Books, also available
Adin Steinsaltz is widely consideed to be one of the greatest Talmudic minds
of our century. His commentaries on the Talmud are gaining wide acceptance
as standard study materials. In this relatively short book, Steinsaltz gives
an overview of the Talmud, discussing its history, structure, content, and
methodology. He gives brief summaries of significant Jewish law on matters
like prayer, Shabbat, holidays, marriage and divorce, women, civil and criminal
law, animal sacrifice, kashrut, ritual purity, ethics, and Jewish mysticism.
Talmud, A. Cohen, Schocken Books
A comprehensive summary of the Talmud's teachings about religion, ethics,
folklore and jurisprudence. For the most part, Cohen allows the Talmud to
speak for itself, quoting extensively and providing limited commentary. I
am particularly fond of this book because it is one of the few books I have
seen that seriously addresses the folklore contained in the Talmud (although
Steinsaltz talks about mysticism, he mostly discusses the fact that it was
taught to a select few). Cohen talks extensively about demonology, angelology,
magic and dreams.
and Jewish Law, Rachel Biale, Schocken Books
An in-depth examination of certain areas of Jewish law that pertain to women
including marriage, divorce, sexuality, rape, abortion exemption from certain
commandments and other subjects. Biale starts with the original biblical
and talmudic texts and works her way up to present day commentaries. My only
concern about this book is that it is sometimes hard to tell from her
presentation where Orthodoxy ends and Reform begins.
Concise Book of Mitzvoth, The Chafetz Chayim, Feldheim Pubs
A list of all of the commandments that can be observed today, with a brief
explanation of the source and meaning of the commandment. Printed with English
and pointed Hebrew side by side.
Mishnah - a New Translation, Jacob Neusner, Yale University Press
Yes, the entire mishnah is available in a single (albeit very large) volume,
in English. Neusner provides absolutely no commentary or explanation, but
does break each passage down into phrases, which helps the reader figure
out who said what and what the final decision was on each matter.
Pray as a Jew, Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin, Basic Books
An in-depth examination of the form and content of Jewish prayer, explaining
the significance and history of prayers and the procedures for reciting them.
Publishers and Booksellers On Line
Note: The links below will take you to several Jewish publishers and booksellers
with sites on the Web. Many of these sources sell materials that are not
Orthodox. Sites are listed in alphabetical order.
An mail order service offering a wide variety of Judaic materials.
Without a doubt the finest publisher of Orthodox Jewish materials. Their
materials are suitable for readers at all levels.
One of the oldest publishers of Jewish books in the U.S. There is a lot of
good material here, covering all movements of Judaism.
Jason Aronson Publishers
Their prices are a bit high, but they have an unusually broad selection of
Judaic materials. They specialize in secondary sources, not primary reference
KTAV Publishing House
This is another of the oldest Jewish book publishers in the US. Your grandfather
probably learned Hebrew from one of their books. KTAV specializes in Jewish
religious objects, scholarly books and textbooks for Hebrew schools.
The online bookseller amazon.com is not specifically a Jewish bookseller,
but they have an excellent selection of Jewish books. The link above will
take you to their Judaism section, or use the form below to search for books
or music from their catalog.
For additional sources, see the list of Jewish book publishers on
NOTE: Exercise extreme caution when searching for Jewish materials
on Yahoo! They have a long history of failing to distinguish between real
Judaism and Christian missionary activity targeted at Jews!
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