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In 1988, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin undertook a mission to heal "Jewish ignorance," an affliction whose symptoms include the ability to name the three components of the Trinity, coupled with an inability to explain mitzvah. Telushkin's contribution to the cure is his wide-ranging, entertaining Jewish Literacy. First published in 1991, Jewish Literacy contains almost 350 entries on subjects ranging from the Ten Commandments to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Entries are numbered (for easy, encyclopedia-style reference) and organized topically (to smooth the experience of reading each page straight through). And the revised edition contains several new entries (including articles about the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the vice-presidential nomination of Joseph Lieberman) as well as numerous corrections, enlargements, and updates. One might expect Rabbi Telushkin's project of inspiring Jewish literacy to be overly earnest, but the author's understated wit adds considerable levity to most entries. The entry on "Sodom and Gomorrah," for instance, ends this way: "A number of years ago, some Israeli promoters of tourism suggested transforming the modern city of Sodom into a tourist haven with casinos, nightclubs, and even strip shows. The Chief Rabbinate in Israel sharply demurred, warning that there was nothing to prevent God from destroying the city a second time. The plan was dropped." --Michael Joseph Gross [via]