Canon - Overview

Jewish tradition revels in words, and Jews have long been known as “People of the Book.”  This term has come to assume multiple meanings, including, most commonly, ascribing meaning to Jewish identity through the act of Jewish learning.  But, while we insist upon excellence in our university educations, we are often content with the most minimal of Judaic achievements.


As an intellectual agency, the American Jewish Committee prides itself on careful research and belief in the power of ideas to change society.   We seek to create high quality adult Jewish education programs, especially targeted to Jewish leadership, and make available the treasures of Jewish scholarship to a broader cross-section of today’s Jews. Therefore, we have sought to create a Canon of Jewish Literacy, identifying key volumes which every literate Jew, ideally, should own and read. 


This is not a closed canon.  We have tried to err on the side of inclusivity, assigning to the Canon volumes on subjects often downplayed in discussions of Judaic heritage.  The Canon should be viewed as a first step toward Judaic literacy and by no means a final one.  To that end, a message board has been created which enables us to solicit suggestions and recommendations for future additions.  Please visit the message board and post your comments.

Click here for Canon of Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson.

Click here to purchase a hard copy of the Canon of Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson.


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