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Any Questions For Me? - Mo's Journal
February 13th, 2008
04:56 pm

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Any Questions For Me?
Gacked from becky_h


How many times has someone on your friends list posted about something and you were really confused, but you didn't want to ask because you knew you SHOULD know? How many times have you felt 'guilty' asking an LJ friend a question that should be 'obvious'?

Well, here's your chance. If you've missed a few things, missed an entry and are confused, ask me anything. Even something EXTREMELY basic, like where I live! I'm not going to get irritated at any of the questions - we've all missed things before, so ask away. My life is an open book.

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From:(Anonymous)
Date:February 14th, 2008 12:47 pm (UTC)
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I don't think this exactly fits the post, but I'm asking anyway. First, how is the real estate problem coming along, and two, should one want to read about Judaism from an intellectual standpoint, what works would you recommend?
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From:skyline3way
Date:February 14th, 2008 12:48 pm (UTC)
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...and that was me. Apparently System Mechanic cleaned my cookies when I wasn't looking.
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From:mofic
Date:February 14th, 2008 04:21 pm (UTC)
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Aha. I did wonder what anonymous person would ask me questions about real estate. I'll do an flocked update, but it's not good.

Reading about Judaism, stressing the intellectual. Hmm, lots of good stuff to recommend but it's hard to know what without more specifics. Are you looking for theology? Culture? Text study? History? Some of each?

Here's something I wrote for another purpose that introduces a few good sources (including The Source LOL). It was to someone wanting resources for her teenager but I didn't limit myself to teenage type resources:

- I think _The Chosen_ by Potok is a great book, as I said, but I should mention that it’s not specifically a kids’ book. It’s a story *about* kids – the story of the friendship between two fourteen-year-old boys from different backgrounds. Kids at that age are of various reading comprehension level so it may not be a concern but for my kids reading an adult novel in an unfamiliar milieu would be hard at that age. The other caveat I figure I have to say because my long dead and much loved Uncle Yehuda is bugging me to :-) - the father of the Hasidic boy is an extremely harsh and sometimes cruel parent. It’s an important part of the story, really drives a lot of the plot, and his motivation is (eventually) explained. Yehuda (who was modern Orthodox but had strong ties to Hassidus) felt this was very irresponsible of Potok, because most of his readers would never have met a Hasid and wouldn’t know that Hasidic parenting is typically very warm and loving.

- Another good book that explains a lot about Judaism (religion, history, culture) in the course of a novel is Michener’s _The Source_. This one I would definitely recommend as a read aloud for a kid. Michener typically immersed himself in another culture for years and then wrote a book about it and the resulting books have an outsider’s approach and lack of assumption of knowledge but an extraordinarily detailed understanding. _The Source_ is a very cleverly structured novel. It takes place on an archaeological dig in Israel in the mid-1960s. The place of the dig is called “Makor” which means “source” in Hebrew. Chapters alternate, with every other chapter being the story of what’s going on at the dig (which includes a kind of soap operaish at times love triangle among three of the archaeologists). The other chapters are what happened at this tel from caveman times on, featuring an item that will become one of the artifacts the archaeologists find. Since they’re digging down, the first artifact they find will be in the last modern day chapter. Each historical chapter is like a little novel unto itself, completely self-contained, but over time you realize that the tel has a magical property that draws the descendants of the caveman in the first story back there, no matter where they go. So every historical chapter has one of his descendants in it. And you realize as you move along that one of the archaeologists has to be a descendant as well, but you don’t know which one until the end. Anyway, it really covers a whole lot of ground in a compelling story. It’s also a very long novel – over 1000 pages.

- Wouk's This is My G-d is a good intro to Jewish belief and practice from an Orthodox POV.

- General sources for Jewish information include the myjewishlearning.com site I mentioned as well as aish.com. The latter is an Orthodox site and tends not to acknowledge the existence of the other movements, but it does have some good info. Also, back in the days of usenet, the soc.culture.jewish newsgroup put together a very good FAQ which should be floating around the internet somewhere.

Let me know if any of that is helpful. Or if you want to give more info on what you're looking for, I might be able to target the response better.
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From:skyline3way
Date:February 16th, 2008 01:26 am (UTC)
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I was looking for history and culture, but to be honest, it feels difficult to divide any facet from another. I think I'll start with Michener and move outward from there. Did you feel he was accurate and understanding of the culture?

Any non-fiction you'd rec?
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From:mofic
Date:February 16th, 2008 01:54 am (UTC)
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I think Michener did an *amazing job* of understanding the culture. His main character is a non-Jew learning about Judaism and it's a great device.

The Wouk book is non-fiction and it's a good intro, albeit from an Orthodox POV. Another thing - depending on how interested you are - is that there are Intro to Judaism courses just about everywhere.
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