I have another new book to recommend although I haven’t finished it, which may be a good recommendation or not! Sarah Hurwitz, former speechwriter for Michelle Obama, wrote a book titled “Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life — in Judaism (After FINALLY Choosing to Look There).” She has described herself as the quintessential lapsed Jew and after beginning her journey back, she is amazed at what was there all the time!
It is something many of us have struggled with as being “forced” to go to Hebrew school and attend services did not leave a good taste in many Jews’ discerning palate. To be honest, although I admit my Jewish learning consisted of an amazing time for many, many years at Jewish camp, I never strayed but I never learned enough until I got older and have learned more and more as I continue to teach (learning to teach something is a very good way to really learn something).
Although I haven’t made it through the book yet, the introduction is worth buying the book! Let me share the story she shared from Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. He invites us into a library filled with books with many values you could choose to embrace and many lifestyle options. You can take any book, read it, and then choose more on that topic or put it back and pick another. But what if you find a book with your family’s name on it? Here is what he says:
“Intrigued, you open it and see many pages written by different hands in many languages. You start reading it, and gradually you begin to understand what it is. It is the story each generation of your ancestors has told for the sake of the next, so that everyone born into this family can learn where they came from, what happened to them. What they lived for and why. As you turn the page, you reach the last, which carries no entry but a heading. It bears your name.”
Wow! That’s Judaism! And your name will always be there waiting for you to write the next pages. Our Jewish journey is each of our story and how we fit into the continuing chain. Each time I am reminded of our Jewish story, I remember the marketing campaign many years ago of Chase Manhattan. They said to all: “You’ve got a friend at Chase Manhattan!” Sounds great! But then Bank Leumi, the bank of Israel, next door created their own marketing campaign: “You may have a friend at Chase Manhattan but at Bank Leumi, we’re mishpacha — we’re family!” That’s what makes Judaism so special and so unique. You may define your practice in myriad ways from being a gastronomic Jew (it’s all about the food) to being a cardiac Jew (I don’t do anything but I feel Jewish in my heart) to being observant of the commandments. You are part of the family!
I will update you as I move through the book, but it is filled with lots of information and written in a way that we can understand. Enjoy!
Laura Seymour is director of camping services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.