Tough Questions Jews Ask 2/E: A Young Adult's Guide to Building a Jewish Life

Tough Questions Jews Ask 2/E: A Young Adult's Guide to Building a Jewish Life

by Edward Feinstein

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What your rabbi probably has never told you, but could—if you'd only ask.

"Every day I wonder if God is real, if the Torah is true. Every day I wonder why I’m a Jew. But that’s part of being Jewish. In the Torah, we’re called Yisrael—the ones who wrestle with God. Wrestling, asking, wondering, searching is just what God wants us to do! God loves good questions. Now tell me, what are your questions?"
—from Chapter 1

In Judaism we’re allowed to ask questions. We are invited to ask them. But for young people, it often feels as if no one is willing to take tough questions about religion, ourselves, and the world seriously.

This updated and expanded new edition of Tough Questions Jews Ask turns that all around. With honesty, humor and respect, Rabbi Edward Feinstein tackles topics as diverse as:

  • Why Does God Let Terrible Things Happen?
  • What Is God Anyway?
  • If I Pray for Something, Will I get It?
  • What’s the meaning of life? Is that a dumb question?
  • Why Does Religion Need So Many Rules?
  • Why Be Jewish?

With insight and wisdom—and without pretending to have all the answers—Rabbi Feinstein encourages young people to make sense of the Jewish tradition by wrestling with what we don’t understand.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781580236072
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 01/06/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 160
File size: 691 KB
Age Range: 11 - 15 Years

About the Author

Rabbi Edward Feinstein is senior rabbi of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California. He is an instructor in the Ziegler Rabbinical School of American Jewish University and the Wexner Heritage Program. He is the author of Tough Questions Jews Ask: A Young Adult's Guide to Building a Jewish Life (Jewish Lights) and Capturing the Moon; and the editor of Jews and Judaism in the 21st Century: Human Responsibilities, the Presence of God, and the Future of the Covenant (Jewish Lights). He contributed to May God Remember: Memory and Memorializing in Judaism—Yizkor; Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un'taneh Tokef and We Have Sinned: Sin and Confession in Judaism—Ashamnu and Al Chet (all Jewish Lights).

Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition vii
How to Read This Book ix
Acknowledgments xi

1. Am I Allowed to Ask? 1
Does It Make God Mad If We Ask Questions? 1

2. Who Believes in God Anymore? 6
Why Should I Believe in God? Why Should Anyone? 6

3. Do I Have to Go to Services? What Good Is Praying? 12
Does God Listen? Does God Answer? 12
If I Pray for Something, Will I Get It? 16
Do I Have to Go to a Synagogue to Pray? 19

4. Talking Snakes and Splitting Seas … Is Any of That Stuff in the Bible True? 22
If God Talked to Everyone in the Bible, Why Doesn't God Talk to Anyone Today? 26

5. Why Does God Let Terrible Things Happen? 30
How Can Anyone Believe in God after the Holocaust? 34

6. What Is God Anyway? 39
What's That about God Being a Shepherd … Are We Supposed to Be Sheep? 44

7. What's the Meaning of Life? Is That a Dumb Question? 49

8. No Cheeseburgers? No Going to the Mall on Saturday? Why Does Religion Need So Many Rules? 55

9. 2 T*Xt Or Not 2 T*Xt? 64
What’s Wrong with Texting? What Harm Can It Do? 64

10. What Do You See When You Look at Me? 71
Can I Get a Tattoo or a Piercing and Still Be Jewish? 75

11. Why Are There So Many Different Religions? Aren’t They All the Same? 79
What Is Christian Religion About? Is It Really
That Different from Our Religion? 82
Can a Person Be Half-Jewish, Half-Christian? 87
Why Won’t Mom Let Us Have a Christmas Tree? 88
What about Islam? Can I Be Friends with Muslims? 90

12. Why Do People Hate Jews? 94

13. If We Live Here, Why Is Israel So Important? 99

14. Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform—Why Can’t I Just Be Jewish? 104

15. What Happens to Us After We Die? 111
Do Jews Believe in Heaven and Hell? 111

16. What’s the Messiah? 117

17. What’s a Bar Mitzvah? What’s a Bat Mitzvah?
Can’t I Just Have a Birthday Party? 121
Why Do We Have to Keep Going to Hebrew School Even After We’re Bar Mitzvah? 124

18. Why Is It So Important to Marry Someone Jewish? 128
Why Can’t I Just Marry Someone I Love? 128
What If I Fall in Love with a Person Who Isn’t Jewish but Wants to Be? Can Someone Join Up? 132

19. Why Be Jewish? 134

One More Thing 137
Suggestions for Further Reading 138

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