Resources to Further Your Jewish Learning

Written by Behrman House Staff, 05 of September, 2017

Adult education can take many forms beyond Hebrew learning. Formal Introduction to Judaism classes usually run over multiple sessions or a semester, covering topics such as Shabbat, kashrut, holidays, life-cycle events, ethics and Jewish texts. 

Rabbi and educator JoHanna Potts, who has been teaching adults for more than 30 years, particularly enjoys teaching adults about the concept of text commentary because it a uniquely Jewish approach to learning. "To read without commentary is participaitning in a different kind of Judaism," Potts says. "You keep seeing the God of the bible, but that’s not mainstream Judaism's view of God. It's the commentary that opens up the thinking about the text, and for adults, that's a huge way to learn."

Beyond working through traditional texts with a knowledgeable teacher, there are other tools available for adult education - whether in group settings or indivual study - to deepen Jewish practice and knowledge.

Jewish Practice

The Jewish Home

Explore Jewish observance in the newly released edition of the classic The Jewish Home, by Rabbi Daniel B. Syme, with all new images and updated content. It can be used in adult education group classes or read by individuals to answer many of the whys of major Jewish holidays and life-cycle events, and learn the whats and how-tos of Jewish rituals and practices, and the symbolism and historical and cultural roots of those practices.

With a simple question-and-answer format, The Jewish Home addresses such topics as:

- Why we blow a shofar on the Jewish New Year
- What the Exodus has to do with eating matzah
- How to bless your children on Shabbat
- Why brides wear a veil
- What to say to someone in mourning

Now available in Kindle Edition.

Jewish Living: A Guide to Contemporary Reform Practice
This comprehensive resource, by Mark Washofsky, has long been used in Introduction to Judaism courses taught by the URJ and congregations across the country. It covers the full range of Jewish living - from worship and holidays to medical ethics and life-cycle events - drawing on Jewish texts and literature. Organized with an easy-to-use index, cross-references to Mishkan T'filah and extensive notes, Jewish Living can be used in both adult group study sessions of individual study.



Jewish Knowledge

The Library of Jewish Studies series includes resources designed for adults interested in pursuing a higher level of Jewish thought that can be used in a group study setting or read invidually.

A Maimonides Reader, edited by Isadore Twersky, remains the definitive English compilation of major selected writing from the medieval scholar. Includes Guide for the Perplexed, Mishneh Torah, essays, correspondence, and commentaries. Also availabe in Kindle format.

A Holocaust Reader, edited by Lucy Dawidowicz, contains a vast collection of source documents that formed that basis for the author's monumental War Against the Jews: 1933-1945. The book is divided into eight sections that cover time periods from German anti-semitism in 1880 through World War II. Also available in Kindle format.

For adults interested in history, Jewish History - The BIG Picture renders the story of the Jewish people as a concise, accessible, and engaging narrative. Written by Gila Gevirtz, and adapted from The History of the Jewish People by Jonathan Sarna and Jonathan Krasner, Jewish Historyis brimming with information on topics as diverse as the development of Christianity beyond its Jewish roots into a new religion and the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language. Also includes maps, charts, graphics and photos.