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There is nothing more uniquely characteristic of the style of Jewish religious life than the great love Jews have for holy books. [Str73]

This message is intended to provide the readers of the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups, as well as those interested in learning more about Judaism, with suggestions for books discussing various Jewish topics, especially the subject of Jewish law and practice. While no book can substitute for a formal course of instruction guided by one's Rabbi, these books are useful as reference material for the knowledgeable, and as an introduction for the not-yet-knowledgeable about Judaism.

It is difficult to separate what is now termed "Orthodox" judaism from the collective term "Judaism". The practices of Orthodoxy tend to be the traditional practices. Furthermore, Orthodoxy is not organized as a movement in the same sense as Reform or Conservative; although Orthodox organizations exist, congregations do not need to join them to be considered Orthodox.

This list is by no means intended to be exhaustive, and it is designed to lean toward traditional Judaism, although some of the sources included under the GENERAL headings include references to liberal movements.

In general, throughout the reading lists, North American (US/Canada) terms are used to refer to the movements of Judaism. Outside of North American, Reform is Progressive or Liberal Judaism; Conservative is Masorti or Neolog, and Orthodoxy is often just "Judaism". Even with this, there are differences in practice, position, and ritual between US/Canada Reform and other progressive/liberal movements (such as UK Progressive/ Liberal), and between US/Canada Conservative and the conservative/Masorti movement elsewhere. Where appropriate, these differences will be highlighted.

The reader is also referred to the excellent chapter on "Creating a Jewish Library" in the first volume of The (First) Jewish Catalog.

[Got Questions?]Our goal is to keep this list useful for its readers. To that end, suggestions of books to add to the list are always welcome. In your suggestion, please be as complete as possible; we need author, title, publisher, publishing date, and ISBN number. We also welcome a one paragraph short summary of why the book is of interest. Please send your suggestions to the FAQ maintainer at

The soc.culture.jewish Reading Lists have associations with and Artscroll. The presence of an Amazon ([Buy At Amazon: URL...]) or Artscroll ([Buy at Artscroll: URL...]) tag on a list item means the item is available from the indicated vendor. There is always the possibility that the items status has changed since the tag was added; in particular, items may have moved to special order, backorder, or on-order status. If you have corrections to the tag, or want to provide a synopsis of the book, please drop a note to

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© (c) 1993-2001 Daniel P. Faigin <>