A few years ago, I realized Jesus was Jewish. That is, it occurred to me in a very real way if I wanted to better know Jesus of Nazareth, I should study Nazareth. I should study ancient Judaism. I should dive into the Old Testament. Also, I should read books by individuals who have spent at least a portion of their lives immersed in a Jewish culture. What an amazing pursuit it's turned out to be. I have learned so much about these chosen people of God, and their resilience throughout history. I know more about the feasts and festivals that brought Jesus to Jerusalem time and time again. As a Christian, I've realized how Jesus' life symbolically represents rituals and moments in these very holy day observances.
I know many of you find Judaism intriguing as well. There are Christ followers who are practicing their faith by observing these ancient traditions. Others of us want to know more because it's interesting, it's a piece of our heritage, and we can better understand Christ when we put a Jewish lens on his faith.
The book club opportunity to read My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew has passed. I'd encourage you to still check out this modern-day look at how one Jewish woman observed the feasts and festivals that had their beginnings in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. You can read more about the book and its author in this article.
Here are some additional books I've read to help me understand the Jewish faith. I highly recommend each one.
Miriam's Kitchen by Elizabeth Ehrlich
The Book of Separation by Tova Mirvis
Devotion by Dani Shapiro
If All The Seas Were Ink by Ilana Kushan (I haven't read this one yet but I want to)
Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner*
Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner*
* Lauren Winner was raised in a Jewish home but later became a Christian. She writes from the perspective of making that life transition, and what she missed about her Jewish heritage.
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish (I haven't read this one yet but I want to)
Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith by Ann Spangler & Lois Tvberg
The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey
Moments & Days: How Our Holy Celebrations Shape Our Faith by Michelle Van Loon