One Hundred Great Jewish Books: Three Millennia of Jewish Conversation

Blue Bridge  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.

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