One Hun­dred Great Jew­ish Books: Three Mil­len­nia of Jew­ish Conversation

Rab­bi Lawrence A. Hoffman
  • Review
By – December 19, 2011
From the Book of Gen­e­sis to Start Up Nation, Rab­bi Lawrence Hoff­man has com­piled 3,000 years of Jew­ish dia­logue into a guide to Judaism’s one hun­dred most essen­tial books. Inter­est­ing­ly, the book opens with an analy­sis of why Jews are con­sid­ered a Peo­ple” – as opposed to a reli­gion, cul­ture, or nation­al­i­ty – and how the entire­ty of Judaism is best defined as an ongo­ing con­ver­sa­tion — one that has tra­versed sev­er­al gen­er­a­tions, con­ti­nents, and cul­tures.

Play­ing on the theme of Judaism as a con­ver­sa­tion, Hoff­man divides all of Jew­ish his­to­ry into nine phas­es of the Con­ver­sa­tion: from the time of the Bible when The Con­ver­sa­tion is Launched,” through mod­ern day as The Con­ver­sa­tion Con­tin­ues.” With­in each of the nine cat­e­gories, each book is sum­ma­rized with a three-page syn­op­sis, a notable quote from the book, and the book’s his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance and back­ground. Designed to be an intro­duc­tion to Judaism, One Hun­dred Great Jew­ish Books pro­vides an overview of the piv­otal books of each time peri­od, and deft­ly iden­ti­fies each one’s place in the lex­i­con of the for­ev­er-ongo­ing Jew­ish con­ver­sa­tion

While the book is – admit­ted­ly – a high­ly sub­jec­tive overview of the texts it presents, it is nonethe­less a mean­ing­ful, inter­est­ing, and unique syn­op­sis of Jew­ish his­tor­i­cal thought. Both new­com­ers and knowl­edge­able Jews will find it to be an enrich­ing com­pendi­um that weaves a sin­gle thread through thou­sands of years, and mil­lions of pages of Jew­ish conversation. 
Eliyahu Rosen cur­rent­ly lives in Boston, MA with his wife Jen­ni, and is an MBA-MS can­di­date at the Boston Uni­ver­si­ty School of Management.

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