This book is the long-awaited (by me, anyway) sequel to my On Being a Jew, published some twenty-five years ago. In that book I told the story of Judd Lewis, a graduate student in literature and someone quite ignorant of Judaism—until circumstances led him to Albert Abbadi, a Syrian Jew living in New York. Abbadi, a man quite knowledgeable about Jewish beliefs and traditions, agreed to give Judd a “crash course” on Judaism. By the end, Judd felt he had to learn more. He dropped out of graduate school and enrolled full-time in an Israeli yeshiva.
Now, in The Kingly Sanctuary, four years have passed and Judd is disillusioned. He confronts his former teacher with a barrage of questions: Why doesn’t yeshiva study ever face up to the challenges of science, of biblical criticism, and other aspects of the modern world? Did Moses really write the Torah? Doesn’t the Gemara sometimes seem to sacrifice the truth to clever argumentation? Most of all, where is “the reality of ha-Shem” in all this—shouldn’t that be the whole point of studying?
Their dialogue, sometimes angry, ultimately touches on the most basic issues in Judaism, as Judd and his mentor each strive to convince the other of their very different views. This is a book for yeshiva students and yeshiva dropouts, for the religious and the not-so-religious, and any ordinary reader eager to sit in on a seminar in Advanced Judaism.