Jewish Holidays: A Brief Introduction for Christians by Kerry M. Olitzky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book is a really good overview of Jewish holidays for those that are curious about their origins and practices, particularly from a Christian context. If you are looking for a “how-to” this is not that book. Like the title says, it’s brief. Each holiday is presented in it’s context from the Torah followed by a socio-historical context. There is an overview of how the holiday is practiced followed up by how it connects or mirrors certain Christian holidays.
One of the standouts for me is that the two authors, practicing rabbis, do not shy away from how Christians have, in the past, used elements of certain Jewish holidays to incite riots or pogroms. They are very clear that while there is some harmony between certain Jewish and Christian holidays, Jewish holidays are unique and should not be Christianized. However, there is nothing wrong with Jews and Christians finding common ground to practice their religion. I think this was a good point to make considering that while Jews and Christians share the Old Testament, there’s a danger of appropriating Jewish holidays and Christianizing them. The challenge for Christians is to take a respectful approach and learn the meanings behind the holidays are.