One woman's rediscovery of her Jewish roots.
Hurwitz, the former head speechwriter for Michelle Obama, describes her journey into Judaism and offers advice for those looking at exploring the faith. Having basically abandoned the practice of Judaism after her bat mitzvah, the author became curious about the faith again later in her adulthood, and her initial inquiries turned into a full-blown quest to understand the religion of her heritage. Though still an infrequent worshiper, Hurwitz has immersed herself in the study of Judaism and the practice of its ethics. In this debut book, she is "essentially trying to write the book I wish I'd had five years ago,” a basic guide to what Judaism stands for, how believers live out their faith, and what sets the Jewish religion apart. She concentrates primarily on how Jews live moral lives, as opposed to what Jews believe, which she feels is secondary. Her approach is thoroughly modern and questioning, and the author, though recognizing that some Jews take their faith literally, assumes that readers will not believe in every aspect of Jewish tradition or theology. In fact, she admits that in exploring her faith, she often feared being labeled a "religious fanatic." In her recollection of a prayer exercise at a retreat, Hurwitz writes, "you can take the girl out of Washington, D.C., but Washington, D.C., is still in there, reminding the girl of how weird she's going to look and asking her what the people around her will think." These worries about the opinions of her peers seem to stymie the author's own spiritual journey, a fact apparent in her text if not evident to her personally. Still, Hurwitz provides a good introduction to basic tenets of Judaism, and her book will resonate with other secular Jews looking to regain a sense of their Jewish heritage.
A solid guide to Judaism for reluctant believers.