100 books like Renewing the Covenant

By Eugene B. Borowitz,

Here are 100 books that Renewing the Covenant fans have personally recommended if you like Renewing the Covenant. 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 Judaism Disrupted: A Spiritual Manifesto for the 21st Century

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?

By the author of the most well-known and useful DIY book (The Jewish Catalogue), this is one of the most important books of the current generation.

The author gives us a blueprint for navigating a positive and productive Jewish future and the steps for getting there. I found the book intriguing. Since I consider myself a Jewish futurist, this book projects a possible trend in the future—which I find to be quite provocative and potentially “prophetic.”

By Michael Strassfeld,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


"I can't remember the last time I felt pulled to underline a book constantly as I was reading it, but Judaism Disrupted is exactly that intellectual, spiritual and personal adventure. You will find yourself nodding, wrestling, and hoping to hold on to so many of its ideas and challenges. Rabbi Strassfeld reframes a Torah that demands breakage, reimagination, and ownership. Not only did I learn so much from Strassfeld's 11 principles; I was changed by them."

-Abigail Pogrebin, author, My Jewish Year; 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew


How do you hold on to faith in a modern world? Rabbi Michael…


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 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 The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity

Barrie Wilson Author Of Searching for the Messiah: Unlocking the "Psalms of Solomon" and Humanity's Quest for a Savior

From my list on early Christianity.

Why am I passionate about this?

Barrie is an historian specializing in early Christianity. Today we now know that there were many different movements within the first few centuries, each claiming to be Christian. James’ Jewish group differed from Paul’s Christ religion and both differed from Gnostic Christianity which saw Jesus as a teacher of insight. None was dominant. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gnostic writings add an intriguing overlay. The books selected are those that open up new ways of understanding the historical development of Christianity. Each in its own way has created a paradigm shift.

Barrie's book list on early Christianity

Barrie Wilson Why did Barrie love this book?

If we only had Paul to rely on for our knowledge of Jesus’ life, all we’d know is that he was born, was Jewish, had brothers and died. Written by a British academic, The Mythmaker is a break-through book that shows how Paul created Christianity by developing a mythology/theology about the significance of the death of Jesus as a Christ. Maccoby’s thought is further developed in my book, How Jesus Became Christian (2008) that demonstrates how different Paul’s religion was from that of Jesus.

By Hyam Maccoby,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Argues that Jesus Christ never broke away from Judaism and that the Christian religion was founded by Paul


Book cover of Rifka Takes a Bow

Gloria Koster Author Of Dance the Hora, Isadora

From my list on lighthearted picture books with Jewish characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a school and public librarian as well as a writer. I also serve as a member of the Children’s Book Committee of the Bank Street College of Education. We review hundreds of books each year for consideration of a place on our list –The Best Children’s Books of the YearI've chosen to recommend some lighthearted picture books with Jewish characters or themes because a number of my own books fit into this category. Mitzi’s Mitzvah, Little Red Ruthie, and Dance the Hora, Isadora! are three of my Jewish themed books. Each of these titles has been selected by PJ Library, an organization that sends a book each month to children.

Gloria's book list on lighthearted picture books with Jewish characters

Gloria Koster Why did Gloria love this book?

This book reflects the author’s own experience as a child during the heyday of Yiddish theater. It’s an exciting story that will engage kids with a slice of history as they imagine themselves taking to the stage and enjoying the thrill of the limelight. So many Jewish-themed books focus on the holidays, so it’s refreshing to have others that just reflect Jewish life in the past or the present.

By Rebecca Rosenberg Perlov, Cosei Kawa (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rifka Takes a Bow 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?

Rifka's parents are actors in the Yiddish Theater in New York, but one day Rifka finds herself center stage in a special role! A slice of immigrant life on New York's Second Avenue, this is a unique book about a vanished time and a place – the Yiddish theater in the early 20th century―made real through the telling of the true life story of the 96-year-old author as a little girl.


Book cover of Black Zion: African American Religious Encounters with Judaism

Cheryl Lynn Greenberg Author Of Troubling the Waters: Black-Jewish Relations in the American Century

From my list on Black-Jewish relations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor who teaches and works in the field of African American History. Because I am both white and Jewish, I’ve been repeatedly asked to give talks about relationships between African Americans and white Jewish Americans, and about what “went wrong” to shatter the “grand alliance” of the civil rights movement embodied by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. I had no answer, but I suspected that none of the stories that we had been told, whether good or bad, were fully true. So I went back to the sources and uncovered a complex and multilayered history. Black and Jewish collaboration was never a given, and underlying tensions and conflicts reflected the broader realities of race and class in the U.S. In the book I explored how these historical and political forces operated, and continue to resonate today.

Cheryl's book list on Black-Jewish relations

Cheryl Lynn Greenberg Why did Cheryl love this book?

Too often “Black-Jewish relations” focuses on Jewish engagement in the Black civil rights struggle, a largely one-sided political narrative. This book broadens that horizon in two ways. First, it focuses on the Black experience and encounter with the other, rather than the Jewish one. Second, it explores the religious dimension that political discussions often ignore – that the Black experience with Jews and Judaism is as much rooted in religion as in politics.

By Yvonne Patricia Chireau (editor), Nathaniel Deutsch (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Black Zion explores the myriad ways in which African American religions have encountered Jewish traditions, beliefs, and spaces. The collection's unifying argument is that religion is the missing piece of the cultural jigsaw puzzle, that much of the recent turmoil in black-Jewish relations would be better understood, if not alleviated, if the religious roots of those relations were illuminated. Toward that end, the contributors look a number of provocative
topics, including the concept of the Chosen People, the typological identification of blacks with Jews, the actual identification of blacks as Jews, the sacredness of space and symbols, the importance of…


Book cover of The Right and the Good: Halakhah and Human Relations

Ronald W. Pies Author Of The Ethics of the Jewish Mystics: An Introduction and Commentary

From my list on Jewish ethical teachings.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a psychiatrist and medical ethicist—not a theologian or rabbinical scholar. And yet, for more than thirty years, I have had a kind of love affair with rabbinical ethics and have written several books on the topic. This is particularly ironic, since, in my youth, I rebelled against my own rabbi’s teachings and my father’s adherence to Orthodox Judaism. Much later in life, I took courses in Jewish ethics and studied briefly with a local rabbi. I eventually came to appreciate the deep psychological wisdom in so much of Jewish and rabbinical ethics. 

Ronald's book list on Jewish ethical teachings

Ronald W. Pies Why did Ronald love this book?

Judaism is sometimes accused of being obsessed with rituals and laws, at the expense of interpersonal relationships. Rabbi Feldman’s insightful book debunks that charge, focusing in psychologically astute ways on human relationships. Topics include revenge, violence, love, and generosity. While scholarly in content, this book has a friendly, informal tone, such as the chapter titled, “One strike and you’re out: hitting and raising a hand in violence.” 

By Daniel Z. Feldman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In an effort to respond to the baseless criticism that Jewish law is overly preoccupied with religious ritual at the expense of issues having to do with interpersonal relationships, the author presents a detailed exploration of the vast attention that the masters of Jewish thought have given to relations between and among individuals. This book is not a legal guide to interpersonal relationships in Jewish life, nor is it a volume of moral exhortation. Rather, Rabbi Feldman aims to convey the importance of his subject by exhibiting its hallowed place within the structure of Jewish law and within the analysis…


Book cover of Megillat Esther

Mat Tonti Author Of The Book of Secrets

From my list on graphic novels about Jewish themes.

Why am I passionate about this?

My love of comics and characters goes back to when I was very young. I remember falling in love with Snoopy to the point that I would draw a snoopy head on my worksheets in first grade, and my teacher knew it was from me! Once I got older, and began exploring my Jewish heritage in a more mature way, I was astounded by how many deep and meaningful stories I kept encountering. It was my natural inclination to retell these stories in a comic book format. Part of my mission was to find like minded souls who had a love for comix and a love for Jewish stories.

Mat's book list on graphic novels about Jewish themes

Mat Tonti Why did Mat love this book?

I came across this book while JT was still working on it in the early 2000s. I contacted him much much excitement because I had never met any other contemporary artists who were interested in translating traditional Jewish legends and midrash into a visual form. When it was finally published, I was blown away at how visually rich it was and how it incorporated the traditional Hebrew text of the Scroll of Esther. And it’s not for kids! A true telling of the story of Esther deserves an R-rating at least. And JT does not shy away from the grittier elements of the traditional story.

By JT Waldman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Megillat Esther is commonly referred to as the Book of Esther: but there is nothing common about JT Waldman's interpretation of this Biblical story. In what may be the world's first religious, scholarly comic book, Waldman tells the epic tale of exile and redemption in graphic form.

When Esther, a Jewish woman, is made Queen of Persia she must keep her identity hidden, all the while maneuvering to save her people from annihilation. This is a story familiar to many Jews who have heard it recounted every year on the holiday of Purim. But readers of all backgrounds will be…


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