cover image The Way Into Jewish Prayer

The Way Into Jewish Prayer

Lawrence A. Hoffman, PhD, Author Jewish Lights Publishing $21.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-58023-027-8

This book continues Jewish Lights' The Way Into... series, each volume designed to provide a basic introduction to Judaism by exploring one crucial Judaic concept. The expertise of the contributors is typified by Hoffman, who is a scholar, theologian, rabbi, teacher, lecturer and writer specializing in questions of Jewish liturgy. While his book is a primer on prayer, Hoffman demonstrates the close linkage among other aspects of Judaism. He begins by examining Jewish ideas about God, which leads to an exploration of the pattern and place of prayer. Portions of this research descend into various digressions, as when Hoffman discourses at length on the history, form, art and architecture of synagogues. A somewhat smaller diversion from his basic theme follows as Hoffman describes the denominations of Judaism, emphasizing their differences in regard to prayer. He concludes with a consideration of prayer ideas and blessings, again moving beyond prayer as he discusses theology, anthropology, cosmology, eschatology and the Jewish calendar. He offers a rather strained delineation of anthropology that bears little resemblance to its conventional definition. Most of the book is written simply and clearly, although Hoffman is overly fond of complicated tangents and sometimes crosses the line from explaining the value of prayer to preaching about it. Despite these limitations, this book, on the whole, is a useful explication of prayer in Jewish life. (Oct.)