Secret Jews: The Complex Identity of Crypto-Jews and Crypto-Judaism


This book reviews types of Iberian Conversos (i.e. primarily forced but also voluntary Jewish converts to Christianity) from the late 14th to the 17th centuries and surveys the Christian and Jewish attitudes towards them. The book begins with a brief history of Jewish life in the Iberian Peninsula noting critical events such as the forced conversions of Jews under the Visigoths and the Almohades. The direct events leading to mass conversions of Jews in the late 14th century and the aftermath in the 15th century are reviewed. This study examines texts and decrees that reveal that many Christians doubted the sincerity of these Jewish conversions to Christianity, and how they still regarded and treated Conversos as Jews. Different types of Conversos are then discussed. Check it out at Secret Jews.

The Converso Dilemma: Halakhic Responsa and Forced Converts



Rabbi Byron L. Sherwin, once noted that many Jews seemed convinced that since traditional Judaism is focused on Halachah, i.e., the practical observance of the commandments, any discussion about theology is superfluous. Some go as far as to say that traditional Judaism does not have a theology. The problem, of course, is that any discussion about God, the Torah, and the people of Israel immediately raises fundamental questions such as which God are we discussing, how was the Torah revealed, who are the people of Israel, etc. All these questions are the domain of theology, the study of religious beliefs. Check it out at An Introduction to Jewish Theology.

An Introduction to Jewish Theology: Biblical and Rabbinic Concepts on God, the Torah, Life After Death, and More


Rabbi Byron L. Sherwin, once noted that many Jews seemed convinced that since traditional Judaism is focused on Halachah, i.e., the practical observance of the commandments, any discussion about theology is superfluous. Some go as far as to say that traditional Judaism does not have a theology. The problem, of course, is that any discussion about God, the Torah, and the people of Israel immediately raises fundamental questions such as which God are we discussing, how was the Torah revealed, who are the people of Israel, etc. All these questions are the domain of theology, the study of religious beliefs. Check it out at An Introduction to Jewish Theology.

What is Kosher? An Introduction to the Laws of Kashrut


The term Kashrut refers to the Jewish religious dietary laws derived from the Torah. The term kashrut is derived from the Hebrew word kasher meaning fit or acceptable. From the word kasher, we derive the word kosher in its anglicized form. But before we discuss what kosher is, let’s discuss some ideas as to “why” kosher exists. Check it out at What is Kosher?

Planning a Jewish Funeral


Death is, unfortunately, a part of life. As much as we may not want to acknowledge it, death comes to us all though it often comes to us at different stages in life. Many are confronted with death early in their childhood, with the loss of a grandparent, for example. In some cases, living in different places often shields us from the extent of the pain that might be associated with such a loss...Learn more at Planning a Jewish Funeral

What is Jewish Prayer?


Almost every religious tradition includes a form of prayer or meditation. That being the case, what exactly characterizes prayer as Jewish? Jewish prayer utilizes the idioms and expressions of the Hebrew Bible and the Sages of Israel. In short, traditional Jewish prayer expresses the fundamental values and beliefs of Judaism. What is Jewish Prayer?

The Transformation of Israelite Religion to Rabbinic Judaism


The link between the religion of biblical Israel and the religion we now identify as rabbinic Judaism is often controversial. The controversy is often linked to theological agendas rather than an honest approach to Israel’s history. The religion of ancient Israel is linked to rabbinic Judaism is many ways. The two are linked by a shared belief in the one supreme God who created the world, chose the the Jewish people to be His people. This relationship is based on a covenantal relationship and is reflected in a shared attachment to the land of Israel, Jerusalem, and Temple, and the same sacred calendar. Check it out at The Transformation of Israelite Religion to Rabbinic Judaism.

Who is a Jew?: An Introduction to a Complex Question


Jewish identity is complicated because it entails religious, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and national components. Each of these contributes to the identity of who is a Jew. This book surveys biblical and rabbinic views on what constitutes Jewish identity within traditional Judaism but also reviews the positions of Reform and Conservative Judaism. This book also discusses the problem of conversion to Judaism and the case of apostasy. Both of these issues have far reaching impact for American Jews as well as Jewish communities throughout the world. Check it out. Who is a Jew?: An Introduction to a Complex Question


Divine Fragmentation: Reconciliation between Judaism and Christianity


Despite the Jewish origins of specific theological ideas, the proximity of concepts that appear to have become central to Christian faith raises a measure of theological uneasiness and concern if not fear among many Jews. There is a real apprehension, perhaps as one of my teachers, Rabbi Moshe Berger said, of being assimilated spiritually and losing one’s identity. In any case, unintentionally perhaps, the theological topics that seem too Christian, become, if not taboo, then relegated to the domain of scholars where the impact is rarely felt...Learn more at Divine Fragmentation: Reconciliation between Judaism and Christianity.