In this handy interfaith guidebook, Rabbi Kerry M. Olitsky (Making a Successful Jewish Interfaith Marriage) and Rabbi Daniel Judson, spiritual leader of Temple Beth David of the South Shore in Canton, Massachusetts, present a succinct and edifying overview of essential rituals that guide the daily lives of practicing Jews. They cover observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, putting on tefillin (prayer boxes), covering the head, studying Torah, wrapping the tallit (prayer shawl), praying daily, going to the ritual bath, and saying blessings throughout the day.
This is the third volume in the Brief Introduction for Christians series from Jewish Lights. Previous titles are Jewish Spirituality by Rabbi Lawrence Kushner and The Jewish Approach to God by Rabbi Neil Gillman. These resources provide what is desperately needed in Jewish-Christian dialogue a vivid sense of commonalities. Or as Olitzky and Judson put it, "Jewish mysticism contends that there are basic fissures in the fabric of the world broken places where God's presence cannot be felt. It is the obligation of each individual to perform tikkun (repair), healing acts to mend these broken places of the world. The history of Jewish-Christian relations is such a place of brokenness. It is in need of millions of acts of mending."
The added value in this resource are the sections in each chapter where the authors suggest Christian parallels to the Jewish ritual described. For example, donning the tefillin is similar to the Catholic use of rosary beads; both aim for the tactile sensation of prayer. The ritual bath (mikvah) has a parallel with the Christian ritual of baptism. And wearing a tallit (a way of wrapping yourself in God's commandments) is similar to the Christian practice of wearing a cross around the neck to affirm a faith in Jesus.
In one of the best chapters, Olitzky and Judson discuss reading the Torah and end by stating that Reform Judaism speaks of evolving revelation: "According to this view, the writing of the Torah was the work of religious geniuses who encountered God and wrote about their experience. Evolving revelation suggests that God is still communicating with us, and the purpose of studying Torah is to discover how God communicated to our forebears so that we might be able to discern God's presence in our own lives." This makes perfect sense and a book like this one is perfectly in sync with "evolving revelation."