The most frequent emails we receive at My Jewish Learning are variations of this: “Help! I want to learn about Judaism, and I know almost nothing. Where do I start?”
Although we joke that we should advise people to read every article on our site, the fact is that Judaism is a huge and overwhelming topic. And the problem is not a shortage of readily available information. Rather, it’s that there are so many articles, resources and books out there that it is difficult to know where and how to begin. Not to mention that books vary greatly in quality.
We still encourage you to read the articles on My Jewish Learning. However, we know that sometimes you want a good old-fashioned book that you can hold in your hands, snuggle up with at bedtime and read from start to finish. So we asked a bunch of Jewish educators to recommend the best Introduction to Judaism/Judaism 101 books out there. The most popular suggestions are listed below, in order of the most recently published/updated. Did we miss a great book, or do you have feedback about one of the books we listed? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.
1) Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs and Rituals (Updated in 2016) by George Robinson
2) Judaism’s 10 Best Ideas: A Brief Guide for Seekers (2014) by Arthur Green
3) Living Judaism: The Complete Guide to Jewish Belief, Tradition and Practice (Reprinted in 2010) by Wayne Dosick
4) Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know about the Jewish Religion, Its People and Its History (Updated in 2008) by Joseph Telushkin
5) Living a Jewish Life: Jewish Traditions, Customs and Values for Today’s Families (Updated in 2007) by Anita Diamant
6) A Book of Life: Embracing Judaism as a Spiritual Practice (2006) by Michael Strassfeld
7) The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Judaism (Updated in 2003) by Benjamin Blech
8) It’s a Mitzvah: Step-By-Step to Jewish Living (1995) by Bradley Shavit Artson
9) To Life! A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking (1994) by Harold Kushner
10) The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays (1993) by Irving Greenberg