As I have said many times, I am a serious biblioholic – it can be a blessing and a curse. A biblioholic is someone addicted to buying books, and it’s an expensive sickness. I’m sure there are a few of you out there – maybe we could form a group! Let me help you by continuing to recommend books, and for this column, I only recommend good Jewish books.
Rabbi Jamie S. Korngold is called “The Adventure Rabbi” and her first book is “God in the Wilderness,” in which she described the spiritual lessons we can learn outdoors. She provides unique nature-based activities with the goal of sharing the many possibilities within Judaism and Jewish living. This new book is titled “The God Upgrade: Finding Your 21st Century Spirituality in Judaism’s 5,000 Year Old Tradition.” From the introduction she writes, “the act of reclaiming our religion and updating it is a very Jewish concept.[…] Through learning, discussion, and debate, we can shed some of the baggage the term God has collected over the centuries[…]and come to understand God in a way that is relevant in our modern lives.”
Working with children gives me the opportunity to talk about God all the time. Kids are very comfortable with God-talk until they get to a certain age. Usually it comes when the adults in the child’s life “send” a message that they are uncomfortable with the questions the child is asking. Then the discussion and questioning about God is put away and for some, it never resurfaces. For many, Judaism is “put away” as well, except for certain holidays and life cycle events. Rabbi Korngold challenges us to get a God upgrade and put Judaism back in our lives. The book makes you think, but Rabbi Korngold doesn’t let it go. There is an Appendix: “36 Large and Small Ways to Make Judaism Relevant and Meaningful in Your Life, Especially If You Don’t Believe There is a God Up in the Sky Who Can Come Down Here and Fix Things!” The title is long enough so I will not give away the 36 things. But, try challenging yourself to bring God back into your life in some way. Rabbi David Aaron tells a story in the introduction to one of books, “People are often surprised when I, an orthodox rabbi, say I don’t believe in God – YET WHAT I BELIEVE IN, I CALL GOD!” Think on that, read the book, and bring back a meaningful connection to Judaism – it is a beautiful heritage!!
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.