Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui



Welcome to Wellington City Libraries' page of resources on Judaism. Here you'll find a cross-section of what the library holds on Judaism, some quick links into our online databases and the library's catalogue, and links to websites on Judaism selected by our subject librarians. The Dewey Decimal call number for Judaism as a subject is 296. (A comprehensive list of Dewey numbers for other religions can be found on the Beliefs homepage.)


Recent items

Syndetics book coverNot in God's name : confronting religious violence, by Jonathan Sacks. "2015 National Jewish Book Award Winner. Through an exploration of the roots of violence and its relationship to religion, and employing groundbreaking biblical analysis and interpretation, Rabbi Sacks shows that religiously inspired violence has as its source misreadings of biblical texts at the heart of all three Abrahamic faiths. "Abraham himself," writes Rabbi Sacks, "sought to be a blessing to others regardless of their faith. That idea, ignored for many of the intervening centuries, remains the simplest definition of Abrahamic faith." (drawn from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhy be Jewish? : a testament, by Edgar M. Bronfman.
Completed just weeks before the author's death, this charts his respect and love for his Jewish faith. This is a personal journey and walk through the main ideas and beliefs, explaining meanings and traditions gathered over a lifetime of study. He explains that even secular Judaism is still immersed in moral values derived from the ancient texts.

Syndetics book coverThe grammar of God : a journey into the words and worlds of the Bible, by Aviya Kushner.
Aviya Kushner grew up in a Hebrew-speaking family, reading the Bible in the original Hebrew and debating its meaning over the dinner table. She knew much of it by heart - and was therefore surprised when, while getting her MFA at the University of Iowa, she took the novelist Marilynne Robinson's class on the Old Testament and discovered she barely recognized the text she thought she knew so well. ... the English translation often felt like another book entirely from the one she had grown up with. ... In this eye-opening chronicle, Kushner tells the story of her vibrant relationship to the Bible, and along the way illustrates how the differences in translation affect our understanding of our culture's most important written work. A fascinating look at language and the beliefs..."(Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverPutting God second : how to save religion from itself, by Rabbi Donniel Hartman. "Rabbi Donniel Hartman tackles one of modern life's vexing questions: Why are the great monotheistic faiths - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - chronically unable to fulfill their own self-professed goal of creating individuals infused with moral sensitivity and societies governed by the highest ethical standards?" He observes that the primary focus of a relationship with God can distract religious believers from their own traditions' ethics. So he argues that decency toward one's neighbour must always take priority over acts of religious devotion.

Syndetics book coverThe story of the Jews : finding the words : 1000 BCE - 1492 CE, by Simon Schama.
"It spans the millennia and the continents - from India to Andalusia and from the bazaars of Cairo to the streets of Oxford. It takes you to unimagined places: to a Jewish kingdom in the mountains of southern Arabia; a Syrian synagogue glowing with radiant wall paintings; the palm groves of the Jewish dead in the Roman catacombs. And its voices ring loud and clear, from the severities and ecstasies of the Bible writers to the love poems of wine bibbers in a garden in Muslim Spain. And a great story unfolds... (drawn from the publisher's description)

Syndetics book coverJewish wisdom for growing older : finding your grit & grace beyond midlife, by Rabbi Dayle A. Friedman, MSW, MA, BCC. While most of us (irrespective of our age) have lived alongside 'older persons' nothing really prepares us for our own senior years - whether viewed as opportunities or increasing frustrations. Our youth-centred culture often offers us few clues to living fully and well as we age. Rabbi Dayle A. Friedman, shares ancient Jewish wisdom for values, tools and insights to rejuvenate your mission, embrace changing family roles, and your reflect on your experiences with a healthy combination of reverence and realism.

Image from amazon.comWalking the Bible : a journey by land through the five books of Moses, by Bruce Feiler. Feiler has joined archaeologist Avner Goren in a trek through the Middle East, visiting the sites mentioned in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. This weaves together archaeological evidence, history, theology, myth, and travelogue, to explore many stories in the Pentateuch as he visited the places. His account also includes encounters with other pilgrims and interviews with local residents. One senses that Feiler's own spiritual journey was strengthened by his first hand experience of this significant stories on location.

Syndetics book coverThe story of the Jews. DVD
This story takes you to unexpected places: from a Jewish Kingdom in the mountains of southern Arabia, to the the bazaars of Cairo, to the streets of Oxford. Within these pages, candles are lit, Scriptures are read, chants are sung, and mules are packed. A mighty story is revealed of a Jewish world immersed in and imprinted by the peoples among whom they have dwelled, from the Egyptians to the Greeks, from Arabs to Christians. (adapted from the publisher's description)

Syndetics book coverFrom enemy to friend : Jewish wisdom and the pursuit of peace, by Rabbi Amy Eilberg.
Rabbi Eilberg is the first woman to be ordained as a rabbi in Conservative Judaism. This is a practical guide to fulfilling the commandment to be an effective peacebuilder in the world. The book covers the basic causes of division, beginning with biochemically based human reactions to fear, and includes her own understandings on peace and conflict theory. The book draws on classical Jewish texts and the theology of later Jewish (e.g., Martin Buber) and non-Jewish religious thinkers. The disciplines and principles of Mussar, a system of Jewish moral discipline which began in the 10th century C.E., are included. (Adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe book of Genesis : a biography, by Ronald Hendel.
This is not a commentary or reinterpretation of the Genesis narrative, but a biography of the book - recounts tracing its origin and history. It shows a close relationship between the book and its readers as they debate its truth in light of science, and overlay contemporary realities onto ancient texts. Well-known figures are traced such as : Nehemiah, Luther, Galileo, Spinoza, Lincoln, Kafka, Auerbach, and Mahfouz.

Syndetics book coverThe story of the Holy Land : a visual history, by Peter Walker.
"With sites sacred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the Holy Land and its people have had an impact on history out of all proportion to its size - and continue to do so today. The Story of the Holy Land is a short but authoritative overview of this fascinating story. Richly illustrated with superb photography, including original nineteenth and twentieth century shots from the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem." (drawn from the publisher's description)

Syndetics book coverJews and words, by Amos Oz and Fania Oz-Salzberger.
"These four long essays - really more of a free-flowing conversation between the noted Israeli novelist and his daughter, a historian-focus primarily on the Jews as "a nation only by virtue of its texts," from the Bible to the work of contemporary Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai - and the interpretations and argumentations that flow from them. The authors, secular Jews who are lovers of the Hebrew Bible, note that "Genesis, Isaiah, and Proverbs are our pyramids... our Gothic cathedrals... undemolished in the flow of time." They look specifically at the role of "vocal women," such as Eve and Lilith, in the Bible and biblical legends.... it will appeal to lay readers interested in a nonreligious Judaism based on contemporary readings of traditional and more modern Jewish texts. (drawn from Publisher Weekly, courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverUnderstanding the mysteries of Kabbalah : exploring the ancient esoteric heart of Jewish mysticism : offers concise and practical insight into the foundations of Kabbalah and explores how it aims to deepen our connection with the universe and contribute to the search for awareness and true enlightenment, by Maggy Whitehouse.
This lavishly illustrated book covers the fascinating Kabbalah tradition, from its beginnings to its modern incarnation as a mystical path followed by many celebrities. It explains how the Tree of Life and Jacob's Ladder are at the heart of Kabbalistic teaching, bridging the gap between humans and the divine. (drawn from the publisher's description)

Syndetics book coverThe meaning of the Bible : what the Jewish scriptures and Christian Old Testament can teach us, by Douglas A. Knight and Amy-Jill Levine.
"[The authors] do not follow the tired model of trying to retell the Bible for modern application. Instead, they organize the book to cover background information (history, literary styles and development); themes such as "law and justice"; society, including politics and sexuality; and the roles and writings of biblical prophets and sages. Readers looking for a single interpretation or explanation of individual books may be disappointed but this structure addresses such broader questions as the administration of justice in the Bible. (excerpted from Publisher's Weekly)

Syndetics book coverGenesis = Be-reshit : the traditional Hebrew text with new JPS translation, commentary by Nahum M. Sarna.
"Written by four outstanding Torah scholars, the JPS Torah Commentary series guides readers through the words and ideas of the Torah. Each volume is the work of a scholar who stands at the pinnacle of his field. every page contains the complete traditional Hebrew text, with cantillation notes, the JPS translation of the Holy Scriptures, aliyot breaks, Masoretic notes, and commentary by a distinguished Hebrew Bible scholar, integrating classical and modern sources." The library also has commentaries for Exodus = [Shemot], and Numbers = [Ba-midbar]. (drawn from Syndetics summary)

DVD flagThe Exodus decoded.
"After six years of unprecedented research, host Simcha Jacobovici and a team of renowned archaeologists, Egyptologists, and theologians shed revelatory new light on the Exodus and the era's ruling Egyptian dynasty. Their new theory pushes events hundreds of years earlier than previously believed, allowing age-old stories to sparkle with new perspectives and startling historical impact. Using elaborate, state-of-the art CGI, 'The Exodus decoded' offers a stunning virtual account of stories like the birth of Moses, the ten plagues and the parting of the Red Sea."--Case slick.

NEW! Begin learning Hebrew today

Ever had a hankering to know a bit more about Ancient Hebrew?
Learn at your own pace, in your own time, for free. If you wish, begin at the basic level which assumes no prior knowledge and work your way through the 50 lessons, with an option to save your progress.

Login with your library card details and select Biblical Hebrew from over 40 options available on Mango languages.

Online databases & articles

Featured database:

(All available through Oxford Reference Online.)

  • Concise Companion to the Jewish Religion
  • Oxford Companion to the Bible
  • Oxford Guide to People and Places of the Bible
  • Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions

Database articles:

Wellington City Libraries subscribe to a number of different online databases that provide news and periodical articles on a wide range of topics. Below you'll find some links to recent articles on Judaism, selected by our librarians.

If you have signed on to our magazine databases recently, the article links below will take you straight in to the database to view the article. Otherwise, you will need to login first in another window, entering your library card number and surname details. If you'd like to discover what our databases have to offer on topics other than Judaism, visit our online databases section, www.mygateway.info.

Isaac: a life of bitter laughter, by David Zucker, in Jewish Biblical Quarterly, 40 (April-June 2012): p105+.
Isaac's life was not bereft of laughter, but on many occasions he may have felt that he was ill-named, for laughter would too often be tinged with sadness. ...Life was frequently no laughing matter for Isaac. Still, in a world where the fullness of years suggested divine approval, at the end of his days he had lived longer than all of his relatives, and through this longevity earned the last laugh. (drawn from the article's conclusion)

Useful websites

  • Hebrew books
    Use the database to search for classical Hebrew books to download for free.
  • Jewish encyclopedia.com
    This website contains the complete full-text contents of the 12-volume Jewish Encyclopedia, originally published between 1901-1906.
  • Judaism 101
    The goal is to make freely available a wide variety of basic, general information about Judaism, written from a traditional perspective in plain English.
  • Maven
    The largest directory of Jewish and Israel resources on the Internet. Searchable and categorized by subject. More than 9,000 links, many annotated.
  • Beth El Hebrew Congregation, Wellington
    The Congregation is "traditional orthodox" and is affiliated with the Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth. Jews from all around the world have combined to make this a thriving Jewish community, of about 1000 members.
  • Wellington Progressive Jewish Congregation

Contact Us:

first names of people who maintain pageInterested in finding out more about what the library holds on beliefs? Found a topical online resource you'd like to share? Contact us at enquiries@wcl.govt.nz. We'd love to hear from you!

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