Beit Emunah's Judaism 101 Recommended Syllabus

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Go Shopping:

There are many items every Jew should own if possible. Purchasing these can be costly. It is a good idea to procure the following items gradually as you are able. Following is a basic list of recommended items. Note that we make no money from these books. We have linked to various sources to demonstrate your options. Always shop around and find the best price.

Required Books:

A Jewish Tanach: Bibles produced by other religions are problematic for many reasons, including translator biases, the inclusion of non-Jewish books (like the Christian New Testament), etc. Unless one is fluent in biblical Hebrew, choosing a bi-lingual edition (i.e., in Hebrew and one's main language) is a good idea. There are several good translations into various languages as well as editions available. We particularly like the Stone Edition (for its clarity) and the Koren Jerusalem Bible (for its superb translation).

A Jewish Chumash: A Chumash is a commentary on the Five Books of Moshe, the Written Torah. Some, like the Sephardic Orot Chumash contains directions for proper Parsha study, including the weekly haftarah, various directions and readings for special occasions, excellent commentaries from diverse halachic sources, and other features. We recommend the Orot or Stone editions. but any Jewish translation is fine.

There are good online sites for the Torah/Tanach including: Sefaria,

Siddur Lev Eliezer With Linear Transliteration: Sefer for Shabbat is required, all other Lev Eliezer prayer books are recommended.

The Garden of Emuna: New and Expanded Edition

Kitzur Shulchon Oruch. There are various editions of this; we recommend the two volume "Kitzur Shulchon Oruch," by Shlomo Ganzfried with a new translation with notes and diagrams by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger. (Note the "O" in Oruch rather than the usual "A" as Aruch).

Highly Recommended Books: There are a great many excellent books on Judaism and its proper practice. We obviously can not possibly list all of them here. The following books are strongly suggested for this class but not required:

The Garden of Gratitude by Rabbi Shalom Arush. We recommend any of the books by our teacher Rabbi Shlomo Arush.

The Elucidated Derech HaShem by Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (author), Rabbi Abba Zvi Naiman (translator/commentator), Torah Classics Library. We recommend any of Ramchal's books.

This is My God by Herman Wouk

Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust: The First Original Hasidic Tales in a Century, by Yaffa Eliach.

A Practical Guide to the Laws of Kashrut, by Rabbi Pinchas Cohen

The Complete Shabbat Table Companion, by Rabbi-Zalman-Goldstein.

To Be A Jew and To Pray As A Jew, by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin.

Recommended Books:

Schindler's List, Thomas Keneally(book) and Steven Zaillian(screenplay). We will watch the film in class:

Never Again!, By Rabbi Meir Kahane

Tzava'at Harivash: The Testament of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov; translated and annotated by Jacob Immanuel Schochet.

The Sages by Rabbi Binyamin Lau.

The Life of Reb Noson of Breslov: Through Fire and Water

Rebbe Nachman's The Treasury of Unearned Gifts by Chaim Kramer.

Ramchal's Mesillat Yesharim: The Path of the Just

Wanderings: Chaim Potok's History of the Jews; told with a poet's grace and a storyteller's flow.

The Jewish Holiday Home Companion, by Nicholas D. Mandelkern and Vicki L. Weber in consultation with Rabbis Hyman Chanover and Morrison David Bial.

The Prophets, by Abraham J. Heschel

The Best of Sholom Aleichem, Edited by Irving Howe and Ruth R. Wisse.

The Thirteen Pertalled Rose by Adin Styeinsaltz

Great Schisms in Jewish History, edited by Raphael Jospe and Stanley M. Wagner

The Tree That Stands Beyond Space: Rebbe Nachman of Breslov on the Mystical Experience, by David Sears, edited by Ozer Bergman


For all Jewish males:
A Kippa/yarlmacha: any style. Rachel's Treasures: A source I like with great customer service.

A set of kosher tefillin (aka phylacteries). The prices and quality vary radically! Since you will hopefully use these for the rest of your and pass them on l'dor va'dor (through generations to come), we recommend stretching your wallet and buying a nice set. Here is one solid source for them.

Kosher tallit gadol (large prayer shawl with tzitzit), Here is a solid source.
Tallit katan (traditional garment with tzitzit, may be worn under or over one's clothing. Here's a solid source.

For Married Jewish Women

A good source for headcoverings.

Other Items:

2 Shabbat candlesticks and kosher candles.
One Havdalah candle.
One Chanukiah (special Pesach Menorah) and candles.
One of my favorite spots for candles is the Tzfat Candle Factory You can visit them in Tzfat or they sell through good sites like this one.

As you draw ever closer to the Beloved you will doubtless acquire much more Judaica. Remember that material items CAN become idols when people overly stress their importance and/or holiness. Such items best viewed as tools through which to connect to the Beloved within one consciousness. Keep all things in balance. If you are not able to procure any of the items, remember that what HaShem mainly seeks is your heart, your consciousness. Many of the greatest Tzadikim lived lives of poverty without material accouterments or a place to keep them. Remember these words of our beloved Rebbe Nachman of Breslov:

Even after all the wisdom and sophistication, even if you possess true understanding, you must cast aside all that wisdom and sophistication and serve G-d with complete innocence and simplicity.

The greatest wisdom of all is not to be wise at all. The truth is that no one in the world is wise, for there is no wisdom and no understanding. before G-d (Proverbs 21:30). The main thing G-d wants is your heart, the consciousness, Likutey Moharan II, 44