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100 Great Jewish Books

October 24, 2011

Rabbi Lawrence Hoffmann (author of Beyond the Text and of the Prayer of Awe and the People’s Prayerbook series) announced at his blog today the availability of his newest book:

One Hundred Great Jewish Books: Three Millennia of Jewish Conversation

We give a tip of the hat to Joel Hoffman for bringing this to our attention.  Dr. Hoffman adds:  "I may be biased, but it seems to me that if you buy only one book about Judaism this year, it should be this one."

It will be interesting to see how Rabbi Hoffman’s list compares with the list of the "Top 100 Jewish Books" by Rabbi Miriam T. Spitzer.

Update by Theophrastus:

Here is Hoffman’s Table of Contents, which may give some hint as to his list:

  • The Bible:  The Conversation is Launched
    1. Genesis
    2. Isaiah
    3. Psalms
    4. Job
    5. Ecclesiastes (Kohelet)
    6. The Jewish Study Bible – Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler (editors)
  • The Rabbis:  The Conversation is Transformed
    1. From Politics to Piety – Jacob Neusner
    2. The Mishnah:  Pirkei Avot
    3. The Babylonian Talmud
    4. Midrash Rabbah (“The Great Midrash”)
    5. Aspects of Rabbinic Theology
    6. As a Driven Leaf – Milton Steinberg
    7. The Responsa Literature – Solomon B. Freehof
    8. Modern Jews Engage the New Testament – Michael J. Cook
  • The Middle Ages:  The Conversation Broadens
    1. The Rabbinic Bible (Mikra’ot G’dolot)
    2. The Jewish Prayer Book (Siddur)
    3. Duties of the Heart – Bachya ibn Pakuda
    4. The Kuzari – Judah Halevi
    5. The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela – Benjamin of Tudela
    6. Guide for the Perplexed – Moses Maimonides
    7. Principles of the Jewish Faith – Louis Jacobs
    8. The Zohar – Moses de Leon
    9. Hebrew Ethical Wills – Israel Abrahams (editor)
  • Enlightenment, Emancipation, and Traditionalism:  The Conversation Explodes
    1. The Life of Glückel of Hameln – Glückel of Hameln
    2. Jerusalem – Moses Mendelssohn
    3. Tormented Master – Arthur Green
    4. An Autobiography – Solomon Maimon
    5. The Nineteen Letters – Samson Raphael Hirsch
    6. Reminiscences – Isaac Mayer Wise
    7. Tevye the Dairyman – Sholem Aleichem
    8. Stories – Isaac Loeb Peretz
    9. The Wise Men of Helm and Their Merry Tales – Solomon Simon
    10. In My Father’s Court – Isaac Bashevis Singer
    11. The Yeshiva – Chaim Grade
    12. The Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Vers – Irving Howe, Ruth R. Wisse, Khone Smeruck (editors)
    13. The Pity of It All – Amos Elon
  • Turn of the Century:  The Conversation Divides
    1. The Diaries – Theodor Herzl
    2. The Zionest Idea – Arthur Hertzberg
    3. Selected Essays – Ahad Ha-am
    4. Moses and Monotheism – Sigmund Freud
    5. My Life as a Radical Jewish Woman – Puah Rakovsky
    6. Poems – Hayyim Nahman Bialik
    7. Why I Am a Jew – Edmond Fleg
    8. The Jewish Gauchos of the Pampas – Alberto Gerchunoff
    9. The Brothers Ashkenazi – Israel Joshua Singer
    10. The Complete Works of Isaac Babel – Isaac Babel
    11. From Berlin to Jerusalem – Gershom Scholem
  • The American Experience to World War II:  The Conversation Expands
    1. American Judaism – Jonathan D. Sarna
    2. The Promised City – Moses Rischin
    3. Bread Givers – Anzia Yezierska
    4. Jews Without Money – Michael Gold
    5. Awake and Sing! – Clifford Odets
    6. Passage From Home – Isaac Rosenfeld
  • The Holocaust and Israel:  The Conversation is Focused
    1. The War Against the Jews 1933-1945 – Lucy S. Dawidowicz
    2. The Night Trilogy:  Night; Dawn; Day – Elie Wiesel
    3. Survival in Aschwitz; The Reawakening – Primo Levi
    4. Eichman in Jerusalem – Hannah Arendt
    5. Badenheim 1939 – Aharon Appelfeld
    6. Maus – Art Spiegelman
    7. Israel – Martin Gilbert
    8. Only Yesterday – Shmuel Yosef Agnon
    9. Poetry and Stories – Yehuda Amichai
    10. Letters to an American Jewish Friend – Hillel Halkin
    11. From Beirut to Jerusalem – Thomas L. Friedman
    12. A Tale of Love and Darkness – Amos Oz
  • The American Experience after World War II:  The Conversation is Renewed
    1. Peace of Mind – Joshua Loth Liebman
    2. Gentleman’s Agreement – Laura Z. Hobson
    3. Protestant-Catholic-Jew – Will Herberg
    4. Conservative Judaism – Marshall Sklare
    5. The Complete Stories – Bernard Malamud
    6. The Tenth Man – Paddy Chayefsky
    7. Goodbye, Columbus – Philip Roth
    8. New York Jew – Alfred Kazin
  • Jewish People, Jewish Thought, Jewish Destiny Today – The Conversation Continues
    1. Choices in Modern Jewish Thoiught – Eugene B. Borowitz
    2. Judaism as a Civilization – Mordecai M. Kaplan
    3. The Sabbath – Abraham Joshua Heschel
    4. Eclipse of God – Martin Buber
    5. My Name is Asher Lev – Chaim Potok
    6. Haggadah and History – Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi
    7. Community and Polity – Daniel J. Elazar
    8. A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice – Isaac Klein
    9. When Bad Things Happen to Good People – Harold S. Kushner
    10. Halakhic Man – Joseph B. Soloveitchik
    11. On Being a Jewish Feminist – Susannah Heschel (editor)
    12. The Gate Behind the Wall – Samuel C. Heilman
    13. Sacred Survival – Jonathan S. Woocher
    14. Jewish Literacy – Joseph Telushkin
    15. Hasidic People – Jerome R. Mintz
    16. The Book of Blessing – Marcia Falk
    17. The Book of Jewish Food – Claudia Roden
    18. The Puttermesser Papers – Cynthia Ozick
    19. Bee Season – Myla Goldberg
    20. Like Everyone Else .. But Different – Morton Weinfeld
    21. Entertaining America – J. Hoberman and Jeffrey Shandler
    22. The Jewish Life Cycle – Ivan G. Marcus
    23. Synagogue Architecture in America – Henry Stolzman and Daniel Stolzman
    24. The Rabbi’s Cat – Joann Sfar
    25. To the End of the Land – David Grossman
    26. Start-Up Nation – Dan Senor and Saul Singer
    27. American Jewish Yearbook – American Jewish Committee
  • Book Notes
  • Index
  • Acknowledgements

A few quick notes – the Table of Contents is mostly focused on works in English or available in translation (except, strangely, for The Rabbinic Bible.)  Also, not all works in the list are by Jews.

And finally, to answer the question that I am sure Kurk wishes to ask me; the answer is 71.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 24, 2011 6:54 pm

    Interesting. But I have already have this book for over a week!

  2. October 24, 2011 8:15 pm

    What a wonderful update to the post, Theophrastus! Thank you. The substantial overlaps between the two lists is larger than I anticipated. And your note about the works being in English (with the one exception) is telling. Makes you wonder if someone in Israel or outside the USA elsewhere has done a similar list, with more inclusion of works in ancient and/ or modern Hebrew (and perhaps even Aramaic and/ or Yiddish).

  3. October 28, 2011 9:42 am

    There’s a recent review of the book here.

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