Originally posted by Tygert
At last! Someone who has bothered about to learn about Judaism.
Yes. There are open-minded people on here. I grew up Lutheran (later, Episcopalian), and was pretty much taught that Judaism is “the religion of the ‘Old Testament’” (it is not). Later in life (about 45 or so), I learned that I had some Jewish heritage (my great grandfather was Jewish; he married a Catholic woman, and I guess all the children became Christian—the Jewish connection was kept as some kind of secret in the family, till my grandmother told me about it just before she died (one month shy of her 99th birthday). I later was able to confirm it, but the genealogy quickly fades into the mist; likely, my ancestors on that side were Sephardic Jews who came from the area around Glückstadt; my great-great grandfather emigrated from there while it was still part of Denmark.
I was intrigued, and had never really studied Judaism. I spent several years studying (on my own), and some folks on here will remember when almost all my posts presented Jewish perspectives. I learned just enough Hebrew (learning more how the language works, than trying to become fluent) to parse short texts—but then, comparative close readings are a staple of midrashic exegesis. I learned about the Oral Torah (Talmud, Midrash, and kabbalistic texts such as the Zohar), and how the Oral Torah is not fixed by eventually having been written down, but continues as an expansive process—the ongoing Torah. My favorite book on Talmud is Marc-Alain Ouaknin’s The Burnt Book: Reading the Talmud
—but that’s a pretty “deep end” treatise, and I read some more introductory commentaries first. I own one volume of the Schottenstein (English-Aramiac/Hebrew interlinear) Talmud: Tractate Megillah. I read Abraham Joshuah Heschel, Lawrence Kushner, Judith Prager (A Path of Blessing
),Judith Plaskow (Standing Again at Sinai
), Rami Shapiro, Daniel Matt (I have several volumes of his celebrated translation of the Zohar
), the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas’ Talmudic discourses, Abraham Isaac Kook—to name just a few favorites. I have the Reform siddur Mishkan T’fillah
, which I sometimes delve into; and my wife and I occasionally celebrate Erev Shabbat
at home. I enjoy listening to Hasidic niggun (and made up my own little tune to sing Shema Yisrael
I am, of course, not halachically
a Jew, nor have I attempted to become one. But I do resonate to the particularly broad stream of nondualism in Judaism (Lawrence Kushner’s Honey from the Rock
is a lovely little book, following the sephirot
to the One). I haven’t done any of that for awhile now—perhaps Rosh Hashanah, though it ends tonight, would be a good time to start again . . .
The best introductory book that I found was David S. Ariel’s What Do Jews Believe?
, if anyone is interested.
. And Shalom (peace and well-being).