Tag Archives: Judaism

A Second Life for My First Book

am thrilled to share with you that my first book, This Jewish Life: Stories of Discovery, Connection and Joy, has just been rereleased by a new house — Read the Spirit Books, the publishing arm of ReadtheSpirit.com. As with weddings, there is something old (original favorites), something new (wonderful additions), something borrowed (joyful images dancing across a cover beautifully designed by illustrator Rick Nease) and something blue (my name at the bottom, although that leans a bit toward teal.)

David Crumm, former Religion Editor of the Detroit Free Press and the brainchild behind ReadtheSpirit.com, has been a devoted friend and supporter of the book since he reviewed the first edition.  I am grateful that his long-intentioned goal to breathe new life into This Jewish Life, sharing it with non-Jewish readers nationwide, has now come to fruition.

For those of you unfamiliar with the book, I  interviewed Jews from across the country about their most transforming Jewish experiences, casting wide the net to include stories from all ages, both sexes, as well as a broad range of Jewish practice and non-practice. At the time the book-fairy tapped me on the shoulder and planted the idea in my head, I was raising my kids, creating a Jewish home into which I was constantly bring new traditions, customs and experiences. I thought it would be cool to read about other Jews’ positive Jewish encounters and found there was no such book around. Enter that book fairy mentioned above. At the time I had never written anything more than a 1700-word article, and quaked at the thought of what could be involved.  Book fairies, I learned, are an insistent bunch, for which I am ultimately grateful. The writing of This Jewish Life, and now its republication, continues to bring wonderful people my way, Jews and non-Jews alike eager to learn about Jewish life and customs.

This Jewish Life now contains fifty-four stories organized around what I call the twin timelines of the Jewish calendar — life cycle events and holidays. Each section begins with an explanation of the holiday or life cycle event so that readers have some context for the stories that follow. You can read excerpts on my author’s page at ReadtheSpirit.com as well as learn more about many aspects of Jewish life and culture.  The book is available in e-versions on Amazon; paperback available any day now. Send me a message via my FB Reading Room if you’d like to have, or give, an autographed copy.

Many thanks to Joe Lewis for reviewing the book so swiftly, candidly and praisefully.

For a Sweet New Year

Ramping up for the High Holidays I do not know how many posts I will be able to manage in the next few weeks. There is all that cooking to do, not to mention the harder work of soul searching. So if you look to the right you will see a new addition to this site — “Sermons” and then eight titles beneath it.

Took me a few hours to figure out the tech side of it (and a lot of help from the great folks at wordpress.com) but I did it — a compendium of sermons I have given over the past eight years.
(Don’t forget to read the link titled “Sermons” first. You’ll get a fuller explication.) Most of these talks were for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; some were not but they’re good food for thought just the same.

It’s a lot of reading; these were ten minute sermons after all. Peruse them as you wish. Or print them out (if that’s possible) and take with you to synagogue to read when the going gets slow.

I will return soon with book reviews, news of the children’s book, and whatever else will cross my consciousness in the coming weeks. Until then, I wish you all happy reading, meaningful fasting, and all the sweetness of apples and honey.

Books of the People

It’s been a banner summer for my writer friends and family. Last month I mentioned my sister, Lisa Thaler’s book Look Up: The life and art of Sacha Kolin, which just got a terrific review in the Chicago Tribune, putting Lisa in Francine Prose’s company for her tenacity in uncovering the lives of forgotten women artists. Way to go, Sis!

And now I have four more offerings to whet your appetite — literally, intellectually, spiritually, physically.

Max and Eli Sussman’s Freshman in the Kitchen: from Clueless Cook to Creative Chef will do for neophyte cooks what Julia Childs did for French cooking in the 70’s: demystify, clarify, and simplify the art of making a good meal. These twenty-something brothers — seasoned cooks both — take the hungry and clueless through the basics and then build on skills learned in earlier chapters to create multi-course feasts. The book is a beginner’s bible and a terrific resource for those of us who remember when “iceberg lettuce” was a redundant phrase. If you’re local, Book Beat in Oak Park is having a signing party this Sunday, August 24, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. And if you’re not, order the book by clicking on the link above. Stock up now for those grad presents, moving-into-a new-place presents, and get one for yourself, too.

Who’s Jim Hines? is a beautiful and thought-provoking coming of age story about life in Detroit in the 1930’s. The book (for middle grade readers) draws its plot from the family stories Alicia Elster heard during summer visits with her grandparents. Douglas Ford Jr., a twelve-year-old African American, cannot find the answer to the question he asks throughout the book — who’s the Jim Hines his father keeps mentioning? The man without whom Ford Sr.’s wood company could not exist? When Hines’ identity is finally revealed, young Douglas not only learns about the realities of racism in Depression-era Detroit but about the strength of family and the lessons of determination and courage woven through the generations.

The title of Rabbi Dov Elkins’ just-released book — Jewish Stories from Heaven and Earth: Inspiring Tales to Nourish the Heart and Soul says it all. Full disclousure: a story I wrote appears in the book and I am thrilled to have been included in the collection. Rabbi Elkins is an insightful teacher whose influence reaches far and wide. The cover of this beautiful book is sure to be matched, and likely surpassed, by its contents.

Yoga at the Wall is the first of its kind — a handbook and guide for practicing yoga asanas (postures) using a wall as support. If you are a newcomer to yoga the book offers practical techniques and accessible information about this ancient practice. And if you’re used to coming to the mat, Yoga at the Wall reveals an entirely new dimension to add to your practice. As of this posting the best way to reach Nancy for copies is to click here . Updates to follow.