Your guide to the Jewish holidays From Shofar to Seder

Matt Axelrod, 1966-

Book - 2014

For those seeking to learn more about Jewish celebrations. Intended for the reader who has no prior knowledge about the Jewish holidays as well as the reader who knows the basics about the holidays but wants to understand them on a deeper level, Axelrod's book takes a humorous, light-hearted look at the eleven most important Jewish holidays. Instead of simply explaining that Jews are obligated to observe in a certain way because of a biblical text, Axelrod shows where each holiday, along with its rituals, came from in an historical context.

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 296.43/Axelrod Due Jun 3, 2024
Lanham, Maryland : Jason Aronson c2014.
Main Author
Matt Axelrod, 1966- (author)
Physical Description
ix, 203 pages ; 24 cm
Includes index.
  • Rosh Hashanah : repent now!
  • Yom Kippur : no food for how long?
  • Sukkot : please step into the booth
  • Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah : the holiday that no one knows
  • Chanukah : it's a miracle anyone can spell it
  • Purim : the ultimate Jewish revenge fantasy
  • Passover : bring on the matzah
  • Shavuot : the forgotten festival
  • Tisha B'av : the saddest day of the year
  • Calendar oddities, minutiae, and miscellany : Judaism's own advent calendar and other assorted fun facts
  • Appendix I. Your quick and handy guide to all the holidays
  • Appendix II. Your quick and handy guide to all the Jewish months
  • Appendix III. Glossary of terms and phrases.
Review by Booklist Review

The book opens with the familiar but still funny line some Jews use to describe their holidays: They tried to kill us. We won. Let's eat. Happily, this book takes things further and does so in highly readable manner. All the major holidays are covered, as well as some of the lesser ones, including Tishah-b'Ab, a day that commemorates the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Ironically (or not), it is also the day the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. Because the book is written without affectation, those new to the holidays will find it a way to understand both the meaning and the observance of Judaism's special days. The text is full of interesting facts, from the origin of the Kol Nidre service to the story behind gift giving at Hanukkah and the derivation of Moses' name. And, appropriately, each holiday gets a section, called Let's Eat, that details the foods associated with the day (or in the case of Yom Kippur, how to fast). A good starting point for both Jews and their non-Jewish friends who want to know more.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

If you want to know the story behind the Jewish a cappella group the Maccabeats' latest video, look to this book. If you are one of a burgeoning number of interfaith families, this guide will help you. Axelrod (cantor, Congregation Beth Israel, Scotch Plains, NJ; Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah) has a facility for making the shofar and the seder accessible to all. Without compromising their theological importance, he sets the 11 most important Jewish holidays in their historical and ritual contexts, adding wit and a bit of whimsy. In explicating a holiday, he titles sections with such headers as "The Back Story," "Let's Eat," and "The Bottom Line." Certain celebrations require additional headings such as "Come on Baby, Light My Fire." There are "Tips for Parents" and "In Depth" segments throughout. He describes the holidays also through real-life applications and scenarios such as alternatives to camping in a tent for seven days during Sukkot. The three appendixes-a "Quick Guide to the Holidays," a Jewish calendar, and a glossary-offer great value on their own. VERDICT A lighter alternative to Michael Strassfield's The Jewish Holidays, this is an excellent choice for readers new to Jewish holidays and history and anyone wishing to incorporate these meaningful celebrations into their own lives.-Elizabeth Heffington, Lipscomb Univ. Lib., TN (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.