This page provides links to selected books about various aspects of Judaism but is not a comprehensive list. The links below will take you back to the Amazon site where more information about the individual books is available (and from where you may buy the books if you wish).
JUDAISM – GENERAL & INTRODUCTORY BOOKS
Jewish Literacy Revised Ed: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People, and Its History This book is an excellent introduction to the many aspects of Judaism. Written in a clear, easy-to-read style, chapters are short (usually 1-3 pages) unlike many other ‘introductory’ books; resulting benefits to the reader are that it is possible to easily find information on a specific aspect of Judaism and that it is possible to read the book in short snatches and yet acquire worthwhile knowledge about Judaism. The book is authored by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, an American Modern (or ‘Centrist’) Orthodox rabbi who presents a balanced viewpoint and a vast wealth of information about all things Jewish, including Jewish history.
Exploring Jewish Tradition: A Transliterated Guide to Everyday Practice and Observance Written by the American Rabbi Abraham Witty and his wife Rachelle, this is another excellent and readable introduction to Judaism, this one focusing on practical aspects of being an observant Jew.
To Be A Jew: A Guide To Jewish Observance In Contemporary Life Written by Rabbi Hayim Donin, this is another well-regarded introduction to Judaism written from an Orthodox perspective.
This Is My God by Herman Wouk. Although this book was first published in 1959, it is still a well-regarded and enlightening introduction to Orthodox Judaism.
How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household by Blu Greenberg. This books includes lots of advice about the practicalities of running an Orthodox Jewish home.
Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism by Dennis Prager and Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. A thought-provoking consideration of Judaism; particularly recommended for those considering converting to Judaism.
JEWISH HOLYDAYS (GENERAL)
For information on Jewish holidays, also see the section above (Judaism – General & Introductory Books) as all these books (except ‘Nine Questions…’) include sections on Jewish holydays. Our pages on the various holydays also have links to books on specific holydays.
JEWISH LIFECYCLE EVENTS
The Complete Book of Hebrew Baby Names An excellent introduction to the meaning and significance of Hebrew names for children.
CRAFT, ACTIVITY & SONG BOOKS
STORIES FOR CHILDREN
For children’s story books about specific Jewish holidays, please see our Holiday pages which include links to books about specific holidays.
The Synagogue Survival Kit – An excellent introduction not only to a wide range of Jewish prayers but also to all things related to being in a synagogue (including how to dress and behave).
JEWISH ETHICS & VALUES
The Jewish Encyclopedia of Moral and Ethical Issues by R. Nachum Amsel. An excellent reference, fully referenced.
The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values Another excellent book by R Nachum Amsel.
A Code of Jewish Ethics: Volume 1: You Shall Be Holy by R. Joseph Telushkin.
The Book of Jewish Values: A Day-by-Day Guide to Ethical Living by R. Joseph Telushkin.
The Jewish Ethicist: Everyday Ethics for Business and Life Focuses primarily on business and financial ethics but is an informative and entertaining read. Available in both hard cover and paperback.
JEWISH BIBLES & PRAYER BOOKS (ORTHODOX)
JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh Has a contemporary English translation which still remains faithful to the original Hebrew text; each page has a column of Hebrew text and, alongside it, the corresponding English text.
The Chumash: The Stone Edition, Full Size (ArtScroll) (English and Hebrew Edition) The Torah: Haftaros and Five Megillos with a Commentary Anthologized from the Rabbinic Writings The Chumash is a version of the Bible specially designed to assist those in synagogue follow along with the readings – widely used in synagogues.
KASHRUT (KEEPING KOSHER)
Teach Yourself to Read Hebrew by Ethelyn Simon and Joseph Anderson. A teach-yourself guide for adult learners. The pronunciation taught is Modern Israeli. (Note: a high level of commitment is required to successfully teach yourself to read Hebrew from a book. Many people may prefer to use a software program such as Davka’s Learn to Read Hebrew or TES’ Read & Speak Hebrew for Adults).
How the Hebrew Language Grew by Edward Horowitz. An engaging book telling the story of how the Hebrew language grew and developed new vocabulary over time. This book helps the reader develop skills in deciphering the meaning of Hebrew words. (Note: the book assumes the reader is familiar with the Hebrew alphabet and can read it.)
Oxford Dictionary: English-Hebrew/Hebrew-English (Hebrew Edition) edited by Yaakov Levy. This is probably the best of the English-Hebrew/Hebrew-English dictionaries currently available for Modern (Israeli) Hebrew. However, it is a general-purpose dictionary and does not include jargon or specialised vocabulary (which is fine for most people, but may not suit advanced users).
The Oxford English-Hebrew Dictionary by The Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. The great strength of this large volume is its inclusion of Hebrew idioms and its nuanced translation of words (explaining in which context a particular word is the correct translation for what you wish to say). The translation is in one direction only – from English into Hebrew as there is no section dealing with translating Hebrew into English. Its large size makes it a reference book destined to live on a bookshelf or desk and not to be carried around.
Modern Hebrew: An Essential Grammar (Routledge Essential Grammars). The best of the grammar books dealing specifically with Modern Hebrew grammar. Note that a number of grammar books specifically for Biblical Hebrew are available, but these are only partially applicable to Modern Hebrew which has simpler grammar than Biblical Hebrew.
Hebrew Verb Tables For those already familiar with Hebrew grammar and who understand the system of Hebrew verb conjugations, this is an excellent compact resource as it sets out the conjugations of numerous verb roots in table form.
501 Hebrew Verbs (501 Verb Series) by Shmuel Bolozky. This Hebrew verb reference is more suited than the previous book to beginning students of Hebrew but at the price of being a much larger (and heavier) book. It includes many examples of the verbs being used in actual sentences and idioms. Note that this book is a reference for Modern Hebrew, not Biblical Hebrew.