Kevin Plattret
Judaism: A Very Short Introduction, by Norman Solomon

Judaism: A Very Short Introduction

Norman Solomon

I picked this book in late 2023, when on a day-trip to Oxford, fascinated by the concept of the Very Short Introductions series. With all the events happening in Israel and Palestine, I realised that I needed more knowledge to contextualise the news and the various opinions I read and heard on the topic. Learning more about Judaism seemed to be a good place to start.

Packed with just the right amount of history, this introduction gave me the overview I needed. It covers the origins of Judaism and why it split with Christianism (or the other way around), with all the nuances that led to the emergence of various denominations such as Orthodox, Reform and other smaller ones.

The part that I found the most interesting focused on how Jewish culture differs from the Christian one; things like the calendar, the festivals, the way of life and the approach to contemporary societal issues. The author concludes that nowadays, both religions have a mainstream following that has distanced itself from the more strict traditions, allowing them to adapt to and persist in the modern age we live in.