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The Woman Who Laughed at God:
Jonathan Kirsch wants to answer the question, "Who is a Jew?" and in The Woman Who Laughed at God, he comes to some gracious, broad-minded conclusions. Kirsch rejects definitions of Judaism based on "a set of commandments literally written in stone." Instead, he offers stories of chutzpah through the ages, beginning with Abraham (who argued with God) and Sarah (who laughed at Him), demonstrating that "Judaism has been defined by generation upon generation of courageous men and women who felt both inspired and empowered to reimagine and reinvent what it means to be a Jew." Kirsch argues by telling stories--of Maccabee freedom fighters, of ecstatic mystics, of kibbutzers who feasted on "kosher pigs." Although his essential point--that diversity, not orthodoxy, is the hallmark of true Judaism--is not a new one, it still bears repeating. Kirsch, author of the bestselling The Harlot by the Side of the Road, writes with such flair, ranging over a wide variety of characters, that his lively style elevates his conventional premise. --Michael Joseph Gross [via]