Joseph Telushkin, named by Talk Magazine (September, 1999) as one of the 50 best speakers in the United States, is the author of Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People and Its History. The most widely selling book on Judaism of the past two decades, Jewish Literacy has been hailed by leading figures in all the major movements of Judaism, and was brought out in a new edition in 2001. In March, 2006, Bell Tower/Crown is publishing the first volume of his monumental work, A Code of Jewish Ethics: You Shall be Holy, a comprehensive presentation of Jewish teachings on the vital topic of personal character and integrity.
Rabbi Telushkin’s 1997 book, Biblical Literacy: The Most Important People, Events and Ideas of the Hebrew Bible, was chosen as a selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. The Book of Jewish Values: A Day by Day Guide to Ethical Living was published by Bell Tower/Crown Books in 2000, and was the subject of a PBS special that aired throughout the United States that December. His book, The Golden Land, a museum–in-a-book, tells the story of the Jewish migrations to the United States. In August, 2003, Bell Tower/Crown Books published The Ten Commandments of Character: Essential Advice for Living an Honorable, Ethical, Honest Life, and the same month, Touchstone/Simon and Schuster reissued a revised and expanded version of Why the Jews: The Reason for Antisemitism, which Telushkin co-authored with Dennis Prager. In 2004, Toby Press published his novel, Heaven’s Witness, co-written with Allen Estrin, a murder mystery which deals with the themes of reincarnation and life after death. He and Mr. Estrin have recently completed a screenplay of the novel for a TV movie to air on CBS.
Rabbi Telushkin’s earlier book, Words that Hurt, Words that Heal became the motivating force behind Senators Joseph Lieberman and Connie Mack’s 1996 Senate Resolution # 151 to establish a “National Speak No Evil Day” throughout the United States.
He has also written Jewish Humor: What the Best Jewish Jokes Say About the Jews. Larry Gelbart, author of Mash and Tootsie said that “I don’t know if Jews are really the chosen people, but I think Joseph Telushkin’s book makes a strong argument that we’re the funniest.” Telushkin is also co-author with Dennis Prager of one of the most influential Jewish books published in the last thirty years, The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism, hailed by Herman Wouk as “the intelligent skeptic’s guide to Judaism.” In 1997, his novel, An Eye for an Eye, became the basis for four episodes of David Kelley’s Emmy Award-winning ABC TV series, The Practice, and he has co-written three additional episodes of the program. He also co-wrote an episode of the TV series, Touched By An Angel, for Kirk Douglas, in which Mr. Douglas stars as a man who, after a lifetime of struggle with his faith, returns to God and Judaism. Telushkin was the co-writer with David Brandes and the Associate Producer of the 1991 film, The Quarrel. The film, an American Playhouse production, and the winner of the Santa Barbara Film Festival, was released theatrically throughout the United States.
Rabbi Telushkin was ordained at Yeshiva University in New York, and pursued graduate studies in Jewish history at Columbia University. He resides in New York City with his wife, Dvorah Menashe Telushkin, and their four children.
He lectures throughout the United States, serves as a Senior Associate of CLAL, on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Book Council, and as spiritual leader of the Synagogue for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles.