92 books like Judaism Disrupted

By Michael Strassfeld,

Here are 92 books that Judaism Disrupted fans have personally recommended if you like Judaism Disrupted. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of God Was Not in the Fire: The Search for a Spiritual Judaism

Kerry M. Olitzky Author Of The Sisters Z

From my list on introducing Jewish ideas to others.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a rabbi, educator, scholar and author who has led congregations, organizations and taught in rabbinical seminaries. As a result, I have always straddled the world of the practitioner and the academician. These books have informed my personal religious practice and outlook, as well as my academic approach to Judaism.

Kerry's book list on introducing Jewish ideas to others

Kerry M. Olitzky Why did Kerry love this book?

In the current search for spirituality, many people inside and outside of the Jewish community are looking for the Jewish path to spirituality.

This is a powerful introduction to the various practices in Judaism that offer such a spiritual path for the seeker. The book contains a vehicle to enhancing one’s connection to the Divine or finding it for the first time. I found it helpful on a personal level. 

By Daniel Gordis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked God Was Not in the Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Simon & Schuster, God Was Not in the Fire is Daniel Gordis' fascinating and exhilarating search for a spiritual judaism.

Contemporary Jews seeking a path toward spirituality and a renewal of faith will find it in this fresh look at the traditional rituals, prayers, celebrations, and ethical teachings of Judaism.


Book cover of The New Jewish Canon

Kerry M. Olitzky Author Of The Sisters Z

From my list on introducing Jewish ideas to others.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a rabbi, educator, scholar and author who has led congregations, organizations and taught in rabbinical seminaries. As a result, I have always straddled the world of the practitioner and the academician. These books have informed my personal religious practice and outlook, as well as my academic approach to Judaism.

Kerry's book list on introducing Jewish ideas to others

Kerry M. Olitzky Why did Kerry love this book?

As a result of vast outpouring of important Jewish writing over the last century, it is difficult to navigate what is important and what should be included in the mainstream of Jewish life.

This is a curated collection of some of the most important writing and documentation of the period. I found it personally helpful to know what I should be reading and what I should be aware of. It also provides a helpful blueprint for those of us who are educators—what should be teaching in the years ahead to raise literate Jews of this generation, as well as those of other faith communities who may be interested in the trajectory of Jewish intellectual and religious life of this period.

By Yehuda Kurtzer (editor), Claire E. Sufrin (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The New Jewish Canon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have been a period of mass production and proliferation of Jewish ideas, and have witnessed major changes in Jewish life and stimulated major debates. The New Jewish Canon offers a conceptual roadmap to make sense of such rapid change. With over eighty excerpts from key primary source texts and insightful corresponding essays by leading scholars, on topics of history and memory, Jewish politics and the public square, religion and religiosity, and identities and communities, The New Jewish Canon promises to start conversations from the seminar room to the dinner table. The New Jewish…


Book cover of Renewing the Covenant: A Theology for the Postmodern Jew

Kerry M. Olitzky Author Of The Sisters Z

From my list on introducing Jewish ideas to others.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a rabbi, educator, scholar and author who has led congregations, organizations and taught in rabbinical seminaries. As a result, I have always straddled the world of the practitioner and the academician. These books have informed my personal religious practice and outlook, as well as my academic approach to Judaism.

Kerry's book list on introducing Jewish ideas to others

Kerry M. Olitzky Why did Kerry love this book?

Eugene Borowitz was the leading liberal Jewish theologian of the 20th and early 21st century. Although this book may be challenging for those disinclined to read dense theology, it is presented in a more popular way and contains a theology that has informed the lives of many Jews, including myself. 

By Eugene B. Borowitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Renewing the Covenant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Borowitz creatively explores his theory of Covenant, linking self to folk and God through the contemporary idiom of relationship.


Book cover of As a Driven Leaf

Kerry M. Olitzky Author Of The Sisters Z

From my list on introducing Jewish ideas to others.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a rabbi, educator, scholar and author who has led congregations, organizations and taught in rabbinical seminaries. As a result, I have always straddled the world of the practitioner and the academician. These books have informed my personal religious practice and outlook, as well as my academic approach to Judaism.

Kerry's book list on introducing Jewish ideas to others

Kerry M. Olitzky Why did Kerry love this book?

A well-loved classic, to be sure, this book introduces readers to the theological searches and struggles of the individual.

The book is well-written as a novel, cleverly informed implicitly by the stories of the Talmud and its rabbis. I like to say that I was raised on this novel. It took me to places that I didn’t know existed until I later entered those worlds. The main character of this book is a bit of an antihero, an outlier, someone to whom I always related.

By Milton Steinberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked As a Driven Leaf as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The age of the Talmud is brought to life in a breathtaking saga. First published in 1939, this masterpiece of modern fiction tells the gripping tale of renegade Talmudic sage Elisha ben Abuyah's struggle to reconcile his faith with the allure of Hellenistic culture. Set in Roman Palestine, As a Driven Leaf draws readers into the dramatic era of Rabbinic Judaism. Watch the great Talmudic sages at work in the Sanhedrin, eavesdrop on their arguments about theology and Torah, and agonize with them as they contemplate rebellion against an oppressive Roman rule.

Steinberg's classic novel also transcends its historical setting…


Book cover of Chik Chak Shabbat

Caryn Yacowitz Author Of Shoshi's Shabbat

From my list on Jewish children’s picture stories to read aloud.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was young, my father made up stories to tell me, my brother, and my sister each night. One of my favorites was an ongoing series entitled The Lady with the Big Toe. The Lady and her Toe enjoyed daring adventures but the best part was hearing my dad’s voice, being near him and my siblings. I’m not great at making up stories on the spot but because of my study of Jewish texts, languages, and traditions, I knew I wanted to share story-telling and Jewish culture with my own children and grandchildren. Picture books, which are meant to be read aloud, are a magical vehicle for culture/values. 

Caryn's book list on Jewish children’s picture stories to read aloud

Caryn Yacowitz Why did Caryn love this book?

Reading Chik Chak Shabbat always makes me hungry. And it makes me happy as well for its inclusive and loving ode to community and hospitality as well as attention to the weekly holiday of Shabbat. Apartment living is another factor that makes Chik Chak one of my favorites. So many children’s books feature one family dwellings.

Every Shabbat Goldie invites her multi-cultural neighbors for cholent, the traditional slow-cooked dish observant Jews make for the Sabbath, when no cooking is permitted.

But when they don’t smell cholent and discover Goldie is sick, each family brings their own ethnic dish to share chik chak (Hebrew for quickly). With charming text and equally charming and apt illustrations, Chik Chak Shabbat is a delight.

By Mara Rockliff, Kyrsten Brooker (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chik Chak Shabbat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

“As warm and comforting as a bowl of cholent, this does a fine job of showing how the American mosaic can also be a satisfying whole.” — Booklist (starred review)

When Goldie Simcha doesn’t joyfully throw open her door to welcome everyone into her apartment for a meal of her famouscholent, her neighbors wonder what could be wrong. Little Lali Omar knocks on the door to 5-A, only to learn that Goldie was feeling too sick on Friday to cook, and everyone knows you can’t make cholent in a hurry, right away, chik chak! But it just isn’t Shabbat without…


Book cover of Shoshi's Shabbat

Kerry M. Olitzky Author Of A Whale of a Tale: A Sabbath Summer Solstice Story

From my list on kids reads that simplify complicated Jewish ideas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a rabbi, educator and author. I have had the privilege of writing many books over the course of my rabbinate. Over the past five years, I have turned the attention of my writing to children’s books. And I am especially attuned to those books that take complicated Jewish ideas and tell them in words and pictures that young children can understand. I try to do this in my own writing, as well. 

Kerry's book list on kids reads that simplify complicated Jewish ideas

Kerry M. Olitzky Why did Kerry love this book?

This is a sweet book that focuses on the essential idea of Shabbat: rest and refraining from work.

It also teaches an idea that is part of the ancient lesson of the Sabbath—everyone rests on the Sabbath including work animals. I like this book—and its lovely illustrations—because it takes a difficult idea that is culled from rabbinic sources. 

By Caryn Yacowitz, Kevin Hawkes (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shoshi's Shabbat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

The virtues of taking a break - and of being thankful - are extolled in the gentle story of a stubborn ox, an impatient farmer, and a day of rest.

Long ago, in the hills near Jerusalem, lived a young ox. For six days each week, she and her owner would toil in the fields, and on the seventh day both would rest. Then it came to be that this young ox was sold. For six days, she toiled in her new owner's fields, and on the seventh day the farmer brought out the yoke and plough, expecting to spend…


Book cover of The Shabbat Elevator and other Sabbath Subterfuges: An Unorthodox Essay on Circumventing Custom and Jewish Character

Karen Levy Author Of Data Driven: Truckers, Technology, and the New Workplace Surveillance

From my list on human stories about technology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a sociologist, and I study how technology shapes and is shaped by people. I love my job because I am endlessly fascinated by why people do the things they do, and how our cultures, traditions, and knowledge affect how we interact with technology in our daily lives. I picked these books because they all tell fascinating stories about how different communities of people have designed, used, or been affected by technological tools.

Karen's book list on human stories about technology

Karen Levy Why did Karen love this book?

Everyone who knows me has at some point had to hear me recount at least one anecdote from this book! Dundes was a professor of folklore, and this book is about all the ways Orthodox Jews navigate the prohibitions of the Sabbath. It includes a lot of incredible history about how technology plays a role in helping people do what they need to do without technically breaking the rules—like the Shabbat elevator in the title, which stops automatically at every floor in a building so that observant Jews don’t have to press a button to operate the elevator (which is prohibited). This book changed how I think about automation, and it’s so richly and respectfully written. One of my all-time favorites.

By Alan Dundes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Shabbat Elevator and other Sabbath Subterfuges as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of books written about Judaism and Jews, but this book is unlike any previously published. It focuses on the topic of 'circumventing custom' with special emphasis on the ingenious ways Orthodox (and other) Jews have devised to avoid breaking the extensive list of activities forbidden on the Sabbath. After examining the sources of Sabbath observance as set forth in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and rabbinical writings, some of the most salient forms of circumvention are described. These include: riding a special Shabbat elevator, unscrewing the lightbulb in the refrigerator, constructing an…


Book cover of Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible

R.G. Price Author Of Deciphering the Gospels: Proves Jesus Never Existed

From my list on the (actual) origins of Christianity and Judaism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by the Bible since my earliest days in Sunday school, coloring pictures of Noah’s Ark. Yet, even as a young child I was very skeptical of the Christian interpretation of biblical stories, seeing that they couldn’t possibly be true. But I’ve always respected the Bible as a literary work and sought to understand its details. In my years of researching the Bible and Christian origins, several works stand out as being particularly important in shaping my understanding of Judaism and Christianity. These are those books.

R.G.'s book list on the (actual) origins of Christianity and Judaism

R.G. Price Why did R.G. love this book?

Along with his other book, Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus: Hellenistic Histories and the Date of the Pentateuch, Russell Gmirkin puts forward compelling evidence to show that many of the most revered works of Jewish scripture were produced after the conquests of Alexander the Great, hundreds of years later than widely believed. Relationships between the Jewish Torah and the works of Plato have long been acknowledged by scholars, dating back to antiquity. Jews had long claimed that it was Plato who had derived his concepts from their writings, but here Gmirkin shows convincingly that the relationship goes the other way around. This realization has profound implications for our understanding of the origins of Judaism and Christianity.

By Russell E. Gmirkin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible for the first time compares the ancient law collections of the Ancient Near East, the Greeks and the Pentateuch to determine the legal antecedents for the biblical laws. Following on from his 2006 work, Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus, Gmirkin takes up his theory that the Pentateuch was written around 270 BCE using Greek sources found at the Great Library of Alexandria, and applies this to an examination of the biblical law codes. A striking number of legal parallels are found between the Pentateuch and Athenian laws, and specifically with those…


Book cover of A History of Judaism

James Hannam Author Of The Globe: How the Earth Became Round

From my list on how non-western cultures think about the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian who loves to tell unexpected stories about the interactions between science, religion, and philosophy. As a Christian with a physics degree, I knew the relationship between science and religion was much more interesting than an eternal conflict. So I went back to university, gained a PhD that involved reading lots of Latin and wrote God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science. Since then, I’ve been exploring how traditional ways of seeing the universe differ from modern science, and how we got from one to the other.

James' book list on how non-western cultures think about the world

James Hannam Why did James love this book?

I found this book a revelation. It reveals an entire theological and philosophical tradition that I was almost completely ignorant of.

I knew a bit about Philo and Maimonides, and of course the Hebrew Bible, but had no idea about the depth of Jewish thinking over the centuries. From the Talmud to modern Reform and Orthodox Judaism, via Saadia Gaon and the Kabbalah, this comprehensive survey is a magnificent achievement.

And it’s made all the more enjoyable by Martin Goodman’s clear prose and amazing erudition.    

By Martin Goodman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A History of Judaism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A sweeping history of Judaism over more than three millennia

Judaism is one of the oldest religions in the world, and it has preserved its distinctive identity despite the extraordinarily diverse forms and beliefs it has embodied over the course of more than three millennia. A History of Judaism provides the first truly comprehensive look in one volume at how this great religion came to be, how it has evolved from one age to the next, and how its various strains, sects, and traditions have related to each other.

In this magisterial and elegantly written book, Martin Goodman takes readers…


Book cover of Zen Judaism

Brenda Shoshanna Author Of Jewish Dharma: A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen

From my list on Zen and Judaism.

Why am I passionate about this?

A lifelong practitioner and teacher of both Zen and Judaism, I am also a psychologist, who has constantly grappled with human needs, suffering, and the craving for meaning. The focus of my life has been to integrate the profound teachings of East and West and provide ways of making these teachings real in our everyday lives. An award-winning author, I have published many books on Zen and psychology, and have been the playwright in residence at the Jewish Repertory Theater in NY. Presently, I offer two weekly podcasts, Zen Wisdom for Your Everyday Life, and One Minute Mitzvahs. I also provide ongoing Zen talks both for Morningstar Zen and Inisfada Zen, workshops, and other talks for the community.

Brenda's book list on Zen and Judaism

Brenda Shoshanna Why did Brenda love this book?

Zen Judaism is a frank reflection on the tensions between reason and faith in today’s context of knowledge. This book includes logic, ethics, philosophy, phenomenology and the need to inject Zen-like meditation into Judaism.

By Avi Sion,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Zen Judaism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Zen Judaism is a frank reflection on the tensions between reason and faith in today’s context of knowledge, and on the need to inject Zen-like meditation into Judaism. This work also treats some issues in ethics and theodicy.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Judaism, Jewish history, and Christianity?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Judaism, Jewish history, and Christianity.

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