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Why Judaism Matters: Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation

Why Judaism Matters

Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation

Rabbi John Rosove

6 x 9, 240 pp, Paperback, 978-1-68336-705-5

Also Available in Hardback

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Discover how the tennents of Judaism still apply in our modern world.

Presented in the form of letters from a rabbi to his sons, Why Judaism Matters is common sense guidance and a road map for a new generation of young men and women who find Jewish orthodoxy, tradition, issues, and beliefs impenetrable in 21st Century society. By intimately illustrating how the tenets of Judaism still apply in our modern world, Rabbi John Rosove gives heartfelt direction to the sons and daughters of reform Jews everywhere.

Praise for Why Judaism Matters

“John Rosove does what so many of us have struggled to do, and does it brilliantly: He makes the case for liberal Judaism to his children. As Rosove shows, liberal Judaism is choice-driven, messy, and always evolving, “traditional” in some ways and “radical” in others. It is also optimistic, spiritual, and progressive in both personal and political ethics. Without avoiding the hard stuff, such as intermarriage and Israel, Rabbi Rosove weaves all of these strands together to show the deep satisfactions of living and believing as a liberal Jew. All serious Jews, liberal or otherwise, should read this book.”

—Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie is President Emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism and a regular columnist for the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz.

“Rabbi John Rosove has written a book of the utmost importance for our time. It is an imperative read for all those who struggle with the changing and evolving attitudes towards belonging, behavior, and belief. His analysis, stemming from deeply personal contemplation and decades of rabbinic experience, offers clear yet sophisticated approaches to tackling the challenges facing this generation and those to come. This book offers a treasure of wisdom through the lens of Jewish texts—both ancient and modern—which help to frame life’s major issues, taking the reader from the particular to the universal. Israel is one of the most complicated of issues tackled in this volume and his chapter on Israel bridges the divide between Israel’s critics and staunch supporters, offering a comforting approach to those who are deeply at odds with Israel and offers an important opportunity for a shift in our basic narrative. Moving beyond the conversation of crisis is critical for the millennial generation.”

—Rabbi Josh Weinberg is President of the Association of Reform Zionists of America and is a leading young voice in world-wide Zionist politics and affairs.

“Rabbi John Rosove gets it. Here is a religious leader not afraid to tell it like it is, encapsulating for his audience the profound disaffection so many young Jews feel toward their heritage. But instead of letting them walk away, he makes a powerful case for the relevance of tradition in creating meaningful lives. In our technology-saturated, attention-absorbing age, Rosove offers religion-as-reprieve, his fresh vision of a thoroughly modern, politically-engaged and inclusive Judaism.”

—Danielle Berrin is a columnist and cover-story journalist for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal. She is known for her Hollywood Jew blog, has appeared as a commentator on CNN and MSNBC, and published work for The Guardian, British Esquire, and The Atlantic.

“Rabbi Rosove’s letters to his sons are full of Talmudic tales and practical parables, ancient wisdom with modern relevance, spiritual comfort, and intellectual provocation. Whether his subject is faith, love, intermarriage, success, Jewish continuity, or the creation of a meaningful legacy, you’ll find yourself quoting lines from this beautiful book long after you’ve reached its final blessing.”

—Letty Cottin Pogrebin is a writer, speaker, social justice activist, and author of eleven books including Deborah, Golda, and Me: Being Female & Jewish in America and Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate. She is also a founding editor of Ms. Magazine, is a regular columnist for Moment Magazine, and has written op-eds in The New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, L.A. Times, Toronto Star, The Nation, Harpers Bazaar, Travel & Leisure, Family Circle, and Good Housekeeping.

“If you’re a fellow Reform millennial, give yourself the gift of John’s insights. This book is written in a breezy, gentle, readable style that is welcoming without losing sharp insight. It makes an even better case for Judaism than challah. It was so enjoyable and refreshing to read and persuasive without ever being pushy. Rosove managed to do what only a truly worthy slice of kugel or chance viewing of Fiddler has done for me: reactivate my sense of wonder and gratitude about being Jewish. I am a huge WJM fan.”

—Jen Spyra is a staff comedy writer on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS) and formerly was a senior writer for The Onion. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Daily News, and The Daily Beast, and she has been featured by The Laugh Factory, Chicago’s Best Standup Show Case.

>“Rabbi John Rosove has given a gift to all of us who care about engaging the next generation in Jewish life. The letters to his sons are really love-letters from countless voices of Jewish wisdom across history to all those young people who are seeking purpose in their lives. From wrestling with God to advocating for peace and justice in Israel and at home and living a life of purpose, this book is a compelling case for the joy of being Jewish.”

—Rabbi Jonah Pesner, is the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C., and is Senior Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism. Named one of the most influential rabbis in America by Newsweek magazine, he is an inspirational leader, creative entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for social justice.

“Rabbi Rosove has written a wonderful book, a love letter to his children, and through them, to all our children. Prodigiously knowledgeable, exceedingly wise, and refreshingly honest, Rabbi Rosove has described why Judaism matters. It should serve as a touching testament of faith, spanning the generations for generations to come.”

—Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch is Senior Rabbi of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, New York City, and is the co-author of One People, Two Worlds: A Reform rabbi and an Orthodox rabbi explore the issues that divide them with Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Reinman.

>“John Rosove’s letters to his sons based on his life, philosophy, and rabbinic work address what it means to be a liberal and ethical Jew and a lover of Israel in an era when none are automatic. He writes in an unassuming personal style steeped in traditional texts as he confronts conflicts of faith and objectivity, Zionist pride and loving criticism of the Jewish state, traditional observance, and religious innovation. He is never gratuitous and invites his readers into his family conversation because what he says is applicable to us all.”

—Susan Freudenheim is the Executive Director of Jewish World Watch, was formerly the Managing Editor of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal and an editor at the Los Angeles Times.

A native of Los Angeles, Rabbi John L. Rosove assumed the position of Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of Hollywood in 1988 after serving large congregations in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. At Temple Israel, he established a Reform Day School (K-6th grade), an active social justice program and revitalized synagogue and Jewish communal life in the greater Hollywood area. John is the National Chair of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) and serves on the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). He writes a regular blog that appears at the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, and he and his wife, Barbara, are the parents of two sons, Daniel and David.



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