10 books like Moses Maimonides

By Herbert A. Davidson,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Moses Maimonides. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature

By Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert (editor), Martin S. Jaffee (editor),

Book cover of The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature

The collection of essay on the Talmud and early rabbinic literature is part of the immense “Companion” series that Cambridge University Press has been bringing out for some time.  I have read their volume on baseball and the Beatles and one or two more.  Each one of the essays in the Talmud volume is astonishingly insightful and, not always concomitant, a delight to read.  These are not the usual words associated with the Talmud.  In short, I enjoyed it immensely.

The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature

By Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert (editor), Martin S. Jaffee (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This volume introduces students of rabbinic literature to the range of historical and interpretative questions surrounding the rabbinic texts of late antiquity. The editors, themselves well-known interpreters of Rabbinic literature, have gathered an international collection of scholars to support students' initial steps in confronting the enormous and complex rabbinic corpus. Unlike other introductions to Rabbinic writings, the present volume includes approaches shaped by anthropology, gender studies, oral-traditional studies, classics, and folklore studies.


Spinoza

By Steven Nadler,

Book cover of Spinoza: A Life

Over the past decade or so, I’ve probably read six or seven biographies of Spinoza, some considerably more helpful than others. Nadler’s study is a striking success of scholarship and biography. Spinoza’s story of being this deft thinker but also being excommunicated in Holland (and we still don’t exactly know why) can make for a great story, but that was not the case before Nadler’s book appeared. I was fortunate to be able to tell the author how I felt about his book in person.

Spinoza

By Steven Nadler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) was one of the most important philosophers of all time; he was also one of the most radical and controversial. The story of Spinoza's life takes the reader into the heart of Jewish Amsterdam in the seventeenth century and, with Spinoza's exile from Judaism, into the midst of the tumultuous political, social, intellectual, and religious world of the young Dutch Republic. This new edition of Steven Nadler's biography, winner of the Koret Jewish Book Award for biography and translated into a dozen languages, is enhanced by exciting new archival discoveries about his family background, his youth, and…


Nachman Krochmal

By Jay M. Harris,

Book cover of Nachman Krochmal: Guiding the Perplexed of the Modern Age

I have been for years intrigued by the character of Nachman Krochmal, the Jewish Hegelian scholar of the eighteenth century who wrote in Hebrew, but I was never able to find a coherent analysis of the man, his works, and his times that made satisfying sense—until I read Harris’s study.

Nachman Krochmal

By Jay M. Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A well-organized and engaging read."
Religious Studies Review
The first in-depth look at...an important nineteenth century Jewish thinker and historian. Well-written [and] well- researched."
The Jerusalem Post Magazine
"A significant contribution to our understanding of the rise of modern Judaism in its East European manifestation."
Choice
Harris examines Nachman Krochmal's work, particularly as it aimed to guide Jews through the modern revolution in metaphysical and historical thinking, thus enabling them to commit themselves to Judaism without sacrificing intellectual integrity.


Jesus the Magician

By Morton Smith,

Book cover of Jesus the Magician

Finally, I offer Morton Smith’s earlier study of the real-life Jesus. Everything Smith wrote was worth the time to read.  His prose bristles with occasional invective, but always at the expense of figures from long ago. He takes no prisoners, shall we say, in his scholarship, and Jesus the Magician is exhibit A.

Jesus the Magician

By Morton Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A twentieth-century classic, uncannily smart, incredibly learned."--from the foreword by Bart Ehrman

This book challenges traditional Christian teaching about Jesus. While his followers may have seen him as a man from heaven, preaching the good news and working miracles, Smith asserts that the truth about Jesus is more interesting and rather unsettling.

The real Jesus, only barely glimpsed because of a campaign of disinformation, obfuscation, and censorship by religious authorities, was not Jesus the Son of God. In actuality he was Jesus the Magician. Smith marshals all the available evidence including, but not limited to, the Gospels. He succeeds in…


The Weight of Ink

By Rachel Kadish,

Book cover of The Weight of Ink

Ester Velasquez and Helen Watt are two women separated by 300 years and connected by a cache of hidden documents. Seventeenth-century Ester, scribe to a blind rabbi, embraces new ideas she encounters in the rabbi’s correspondence. She yearns for the freedom to debate philosophy with other learned minds rather than lose herself to husband and home. Helen is a contemporary British professor eager to unlock the mysterious scribe. Enter the fantastical world of quill and ink, Portuguese-Jewish refugees from the Inquisition, Restoration London, Black Death, intellectual controversies, and forbidden thought.

I love this book because of Kadish’s atmospheric writing that steeps you in a faraway time where you can appreciate the luster of hand-carved cherubs and determination of two fabulous women who navigate life’s journeys with grace, determination, and regret.

The Weight of Ink

By Rachel Kadish,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Weight of Ink as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF A NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD A USA TODAY BESTSELLER "A gifted writer, astonishingly adept at nuance, narration, and the politics of passion."-Toni Morrison Set in London of the 1660s and of the early twenty-first century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history. As the novel opens, Helen has been summoned by a former student to view a…


Rabbi Harvey Rides Again

By Steve Sheinkin,

Book cover of Rabbi Harvey Rides Again: A Graphic Novel of Jewish Folktales Let Loose in the Wild West

In another Wild West setting twist, an advice dispensing Rabbi is the vehicle for upcycling traditional folk tales. And it is funny: whether the Rabbi is busting through saloon doors to beat someone to the punchline of an Abe Lincoln joke or using his wits to outsmart bandits or simply helping out with a frontier domestic issue, I find myself literally laughing out loud. The illustrations are charmingly folky, and there is a glossary for the story sources which often turn out to be tales that are many hundreds of years old.

Rabbi Harvey Rides Again

By Steve Sheinkin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rabbi Harvey Rides Again as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rabbi Harvey is Back with Ten Hilarious New Adventures

In this follow-up to the popular The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey: A Graphic Novel of Jewish Wisdom and Wit in the Wild West, the Rabbi returns to the streets of Elk Spring, Colorado. Part Wild West sheriff, part old world rabbi, Harvey protects his town and delivers justice, wielding only the weapons of wisdom, wit, and a bit of trickery. These adventures combine Jewish and American folklore by creatively retelling comic Jewish folktales and setting them loose on the western frontier of the 1870s.

As his fame grows throughout the Rocky…


For the Relief of Unbearable Urges

By Nathan Englander,

Book cover of For the Relief of Unbearable Urges: Stories

While Nathan Englander (especially his novels) weighs in a little heavier on the horror side of my humor-horror scales, his collection For the Relief of Unbearable Urges does have a thread of humor running through it that juxtaposes that darkness in such a beautiful way as to make it all the more terrible. 

The story “Reb Kringle” is about a cantankerous Jewish man who works as Santa in a department store.Or "The Tumblers", a story about a group of Polish Jews on a train headed for the death camps, who, realizing something is terribly wrong, pretend to be a group of acrobats in an attempt to escape their terrible fate. Hup! 

Nathan’s writing makes me laugh and cry in the span of a single story.

For the Relief of Unbearable Urges

By Nathan Englander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked For the Relief of Unbearable Urges as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ruchama, a wigmaker from an ultra-orthodox Brooklyn enclave, journeys into Manhattan for inspiration, frequenting a newsstand where she flips through forbidden fashion magazines. An elderly Jew with a long, white beard reluctantly works as a department store Santa Claus every year - until he can take it no longer. And a Hasidic man, frustrated by his wife's lack of interest, gets a dispensation from a rabbi to see a prostitute for the relief of unbearable urges.


Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older

By Dayle A. Friedman,

Book cover of Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older: Finding Your Grit and Grace Beyond Midlife

Rabbi Dayle Friedman’s wisdom about aging can be appreciated by people of all religions and no religion. Her honest engagement with some of the most difficult issues aging persons face leaves readers with hope rather than despair. Her many years as a chaplain for people living in long-term care with dementia undergird her suggestions on how to make sense of what she calls “dementia’s brokenness”. She concludes each chapter with a spiritual practice readers can employ to engage more deeply with the chapter’s topics, and also at the end of each chapter, she offers readers a blessing for their own efforts to flourish as they age.  

Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older

By Dayle A. Friedman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Growing Older Can Be a Time of Growing in Depth and Wisdom

"My sense is that the whole journey beyond midlife is a mysterious blend of light and dark, wholeness and fragility…. We have a chance beyond midlife to become the person we were truly meant to be. We can draw on everything we have experienced so far to contribute to the people around us and the wider world, and to find strength and resilience amid the challenges."
―from the Introduction

Whether you are fifty-five or seventy-five, approaching retirement or age one hundred, growing older brings remarkable opportunities but often…


The Golem and the Jinni

By Helene Wecker,

Book cover of The Golem and the Jinni

I loved this book because it combined unexpected things. New York City in 1899 is full of immigrants from all over the world, living in communities that rub together in crowded, often impoverished situations. In that realistic setting the story places a female golem and a male jinni. Reading about two non-human creatures from Jewish and Arab cultures figuring out how to exist in the human world made me think about what it means to be human and how communities work. Plus there's interesting stuff about Kabbalistic magic, baking, and life in the desert.

The Golem and the Jinni

By Helene Wecker,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Golem and the Jinni as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'One of only two novels I've ever loved whose main characters are not human' BARBARA KINGSOLVER

For fans of The Essex Serpent and The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock.

'By far my favourite book of of the year' Guardian

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a djinni, a being of fire, born in…


The Frozen Rabbi

By Steve Stern,

Book cover of The Frozen Rabbi

For my money, Stern is the South’s premiere literary comic writer. In this one, he is a Southern Philip Roth with an I.B. Singer twist. A teenage boy discovers a frozen rabbi in the Kelvinator inside his parent’s Memphis basement. The rabbi’s been frozen for one hundred years. Bernie thaws him and what ensues covers a universe of incident: teenage hope and angst, Talmudic wisdom, kabbalistic film-flammery, the seduction of all of Memphis, from lowlifes to elite, by a rabbi (who can fly) selling himself as the font of all magic and knowledge. Stern obviously loves his Memphis and his Jews. At the same time he skewers them with the sleekest wit. Even Israel gets a gratuitous knock. It was the only thing I did not like in the book but it was fleeting, so I got over it. Such is the power of genius.

The Frozen Rabbi

By Steve Stern,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Award-winning novelist Steve Stern's exhilarating epic recounts the story of how a nineteenth-century rabbi from a small Polish town ends up in a basement freezer in a suburban Memphis home at the end of the twentieth century. What happens when an impressionable teenage boy inadvertently thaws out the ancient man and brings him back to life is nothing short of miraculous.


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