Welcome to Harry Freedman Books. On these pages you can find details of my books and information on what else is to come.
I am currently writing about the biblical and mystical sources that lie behind much of Leonard Cohen’s music. I am looking at the songs that were influenced by his profound knowledge of Judaism, Christianity and Kabbalah, and exploring the sources that he used. I explain where his sources came from, what their original context were, the stories and ideas that lay behind them, and how Leonard Cohen harnessed them to get across his own message. The book will be as much an exploration of his sources as of his songs themselves. It will be published by Bloomsbury Continuum in late 2021.
My next book, Reason to Believe, is the authorised biography of Rabbi Dr Louis Jacobs. Louis Jacobs was Britain’s most gifted Jewish scholar. A Talmudic genius, outstanding teacher and accomplished author, cultured and easy-going, he was widely expected to become Britain’s next Chief Rabbi.
Then controversy struck. The Chief Rabbi refused to appoint him as Principal of Jews’ College, the country’s premier rabbinic college. He further forbade him from returning as rabbi to his former synagogue. All because of a book Jacobs had written some years earlier, challenging from a rational perspective the traditional belief in the origins of the Torah.
The British Jewish community was torn apart. It was a scandal unlike anything they had ever previously endured. The national media loved it. Jacobs became a cause celebre, a beacon of reason, a humble man who wouldn’t be compromised. His congregation resigned en masse and created a new synagogue for him in Abbey Road, the heart of fashionable 1970s London. It became the go-to venue for Jews seeking reasonable answers to questions of faith.
A prolific author of over 50 books and hundreds of articles on every aspect of Judaism, from the basics of religious belief to the complexities of mysticism and law, Louis Jacobs won the heart and affection of the mainstream British Jewish community. When the Jewish Chronicle ran a poll to discover the Greatest British Jew, Jacobs won hands down. He said it made him feel daft.
Reason To Believe tells the dramatic and touching story of Louis Jacobs’s life, and of the human drama lived out by his family, deeply wounded by his rejection.
Reason to Believe will be published by Bloomsbury Continuum. It will be issued in in November 2020 in the UK and January 2021 in the USA.
My most previous book, published by Bloomsbury Continuum in 2019, was Kabbalah: Secrecy, Scandal and the Soul. It tells the story of Kabbalah, from its earliest origins until the present day. We trace Kabbalah’s development, from the second century visionaries who visited the divine realms and brought back tales of their glories and splendours, through the unexpected arrival of a book in Spain that appeared to have lain unconcealed for over a thousand years, and on to the mystical city of Safed where souls could be read and the history of heaven was an open book.
Kabbalah’s Christian counterpart, Cabala, emerged during the Renaissance, becoming allied to magic, alchemy and the occult sciences. A kabbalistic heresy tore apart seventeenth century Jewish communities while closer to our time Aleister Crowley hijacked it to proclaim ‘Do What Thou Wilt’. Kabbalah became fashionable in the late 1960s in the wake of the hippy counter-culture and with the approach of the new age, and enjoyed its share of fame, scandal and disrepute as the twenty first century approached.
The book demands no knowledge of Kabbalah, just an interest in asking the questions ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ I am sure you will find it fascinating.
The Murderous History of Bible Translations. was published by Bloomsbury early in 2016. It’s astonishing just how controversial the apparently innocent act of translating the bible has been. People have been excommunicated, ostracised and yes, even killed for it. Even once the violence subsided, as the world entered a more enlightened age, translating the Bible remained controversial. It can also be big business, as one of the final chapters shows. The whole subject is fascinating ; I am sure that you will agree that the book is well worth reading!
In 2014 Bloomsbury published The Talmud: A Biography. The Talmud is the religious and legal pillar of Judaism. Containing nearly 2,000,000 words in thirty seven volumes, it covers topics as diverse as law, faith, medicine, magic, ethics, sex, humour and prayer. It is a highly complex, profoundly logical and frequently impenetrable work with a history like no other. In its 1,500 year history the Talmud has been banned, censored and burned, dissected by scholars and rabbis, probed by philosophers, poets, republicans and kings. Its story is a fascinating insight into the history of Judaism. You can visit the book’s website at www.talmudbiography.com.
My other books include:
The Gospels’ Veiled Agenda, which looks at the authorship of the Gospels. The writers were Jews, they were steeped in their native culture and the best way to understand their works is to approach them in context. When we do, we discover all sorts of hidden ideas and motifs in the Gospels. Including the identity of the Holy Grail!
The Yavneh Trilogy, of which, the first book, Jerusalem Imperilled, was published in November 2011. The trilogy is set in the middle of the 1st Century in the Roman province of Judea, the homeland of the Jews and birthplace of Jesus. The story is fictional but many of the characters are real. The 1st Century was a time of tremendous political, cultural and religious upheaval in the Middle East, we still feel the effect of its events today. The destruction of the Jewish Temple by the Romans forced Judaism to reinvent itself and had a direct impact on the evolution of the new Christian faith. It was a tumultuous century, marked by extreme violence and profound intellectualism. It is when the seeds of Western civilisation were sown. For better or worse.
You can download samples and purchase copies from each book’s page. You can also order a signed copy. If you like my books, please write a review on Amazon, and anywhere else you can. Independent authors like me need as many reviews as possible so as to get noticed. Please also take a look at my blog, and let my readers have your comments.
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Thank you for taking the time to read this.