Download A Time to Every Purpose: Letters to a Young Jew by Jonathan D Sarna PDF

By Jonathan D Sarna

At the flip of the twenty-first century, the vital query confronting Jewish leaders in the USA is straightforward:

Why be Jewish?

Jonathan D. Sarna, acclaimed student of yank Judaism, believes that “Why be Jewish?” is the inaccurate query. Judaism, he believes, isn't really loads a “why” as a way—a lifestyle, a manner of marking time, a fashion of when it comes to the surroundings, to humans, to kin, and to God. Judaism is skilled via doing—doing issues Jewish, doing issues for fellow Jews in want, doing issues as a Jew to enhance the nation of the area. The extra Judaism one does, the extra one involves enjoy what Judaism is.

Using the Jewish calendar as his place to begin, Sarna displays at the significant subject matters of Jewish lifestyles as expressed in a whole yr of holidays—from Passover within the spring to Purim 11 months later. Passover, for example, yields a dialogue of freedom; Shavuot, a dialogue of Torah; Yom Kippur, the function of the person in the Jewish neighborhood; Chanukah, problems with assimilation and anti-assimilation.

An crucial short introduction—or reintroduction—to the main practices of Jewish existence in addition to the numerous complexities of the yankee Jewish event, this ebook should be crucial analyzing for American Jews and the right reward for the vacation season.

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Extra resources for A Time to Every Purpose: Letters to a Young Jew

Sample text

As I write these words, Yom ha-Shoah is coming to an end here in Jerusalem. Soon dusk will fall, regular TV and radio shows will resume, and life will return to its normal pace. No shofar will sound to mark the closing of the day, as it does on Yom Kippur, nor will the day end, as the Sabbath does, with Havdalah, the ceremony marking the passage from sacred time to ordinary time. So, for lack of an official ritual, I chant to myself the last verses of Megilat ha-Shoah, the Shoah Scroll, written not long ago by a child of Holocaust survivors, Avigdor Shinan.

There are myriad ways of practicing Judaism: 613 traditional commandments and thousands upon thousands of customs. Try a few. I have always found that “doing Jewish” actively is infinitely more satisfying than “being Jewish” passively. Speaking of “doing Jewish,” I have to get back to preparing for tonight’s seder. Our guests come from different places, and they have different traditions that I want to respect. The vegetables that we dip? qxd 12 | 6/17/08 10:48 AM Page 12 a time to every purpose descended from King David!

A year later, some 437,000 Jews from Hungary were deported to Auschwitz in the space of just two months. Most of them were murdered too. You asked me once why more Jews did not resist. ZdenZk Ornest, a teenager locked away in the concentration camp in Terezin, asked the same question in the very midst of the Holocaust. Writing in the secret boys’ magazine, Vedem, produced in the camp, he described a group punishment meted out in 1943 against the entire camp population, which was forced to stand at attention outside in the cold for twelve long hours: There were 30,000 of us and only a few of them, yet there was nothing we could do in our impotence.

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