Judaism is a culture that has been sustained by books. That is the common view, and it contains a great deal of truth. But of course, books are carried along the current of people’s lives, and in the pages of a vital book we hear a living voice. The Torah enshrines the living voice of God. Rabbinic commentaries celebrate the living voices of those who seek to live a life of faith, of commitment, and of community. But throughout our history many people have not been heard. Scholars speak through texts. But what of the salesman, the housewife, the baker? Who records the laughter evoked by the storyteller, whose tales do not make it into the sacred halls of study, into the pages of learned tomes?
Debra Darvick’s book is an act of reclamation and joyous discovery. She searches for the immediacy of living voices. Here are people seeking community and spirit from all walks of life, in every situation of life. Here are stories of holidays and life-cycle events, of marriage and divorce, told by those learned in the tradition and those who are taking their first tentative steps toward involvement and understanding. Here is the story of a woman entering the mikvah for the first time; a man who guarded Paul Robeson; a teen’s trip to Israel and the meditations of a recovering alcoholic.
In other words, this is a profoundly Jewish book. It retells the tales of our people as they are, in all their glorious diversity, their raucous integrity, their wonderful, infuriating, stiff-necked exuberance. Debra Darvick has given us the voices. We give her our thanks.
Rabbi David Wolpe
Sinai Temple, Los Angeles
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