The Book of Customs
Scott-Martin Kosofsky
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Buy *The Book of Customs: A Complete Handbook for the Jewish Year* online

The Book of Customs: A Complete Handbook for the Jewish Year
Scott-Martin Kosofsky
464 pages
October 2004
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Minhogimbukh: a book written in Yiddish, a book of Jewish customs. For over four hundred years, it was one of the most popular books in the European Jewish diaspora, brought back for the modern reader by Scott-Martin Kosofsky. Written in English, this book starts with the fundamentals of prayer, moving to the days of the week and the all important Sabbath, explaining in detail the customs and traditions of both home and temple services. The beauty and grace of each custom shines as the author details not only the ceremonial rite but when and how the custom came into practice. For example, the employment of shabbes goyim (hiring a non-Jew to perform tasks forbidden on the Sabbath day, was rarely used before the nineteenth century.

From the sabbath, the chapters are broken down into the months of the year according to the Jewish calendar. The book tells you which days are celebrated and why. As I write this, it is the month of Elul, a time of preparation for the new year and the time when Moses received the second tablet of commandments; a time of prayer and forgiveness.

The cycle of Jewish life is symbolically completed in the remaining chapters, which examine marriage, circumcism, bar and bat mitzvah, death and mourning. Richly illustrated with Renaissance woodcut drawings, this lovely book would enrich anyone's library regardless of faith. Patterned after the 1593 Book of Customs, it, like its predecessor, offers "laws explained well, so you will know how to live like a good person." I give it five stars.

© 2005 by Pamela Crossland for

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