cover image My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew

My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew

Abigail Pogrebin. Fig Tree, $22.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-941493-20-5

Can a 50-something neophyte glean meaning about herself and the world from observing all 18 annual Jewish holidays in a year of personal exploration? Pogrebin (Stars of David) provides a vigorous and moving affirmative answer in this insightful, clever, funny, and compulsively readable volume that will lead newcomers to seek out her other writings. Having grown up with her Jewish identity “a given, not a pursuit,” Pogrebin believed that there was more to “feel than I’d felt, more to understand than I knew.” She is guided by an eclectic group of teachers, including rabbis from all modern denominations, who provide different lenses through which to view ancient, and sometimes obscure, holidays as relevant today. Her exploration begins with Elul, the Hebrew month that precedes the Jewish New Year, that provides an opportunity to gear up for that holy day with daily self-examinations; typically, her account of trying to learn how to blow a shofar every morning, and integrate her experiment in observance with her family routine, is both humorous and inspiring. Even knowledgeable Jews will find wisdom and new perspectives in these pages. (Mar.)