Reading R’ Alan Lew before the Days of Awe

One of my favorite books to re-read during the lead-up to the Days of Awe is This is Real And You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation by Rabbi Alan Lew, may his memory be a blessing. I know the High Holidays seem very far away, but they’re not — not to me, anyway! This book begins with reflections on how Tisha b’Av prepares us for the Days of Awe, so I’d like for our first meeting to be before Tisha b’Av (which this year falls on July 28.)

If others are interested in reading this book and meeting a few times to discuss it, I would love to do that!

Here is the proposed schedule:


Saturday July 21 — we’ll discuss the first three chapters of the book over a brown-bag lunch at 11:30 as our communal Torah study that day (feel free to come at 9:30 for Shabbat morning services beforehand!) Those chapters are:

One – The Soul Stretches Out to Contain Itself: A Map of The Journey

Two – Everywhere He Went, He Was: Heading for Home: Teshuvah

Three – I Turned, The Walls Came Down, and There I Was: Tisha b’Av


Either on Saturday 9/1 or Saturday 9/15, with a brown-bag lunch, after services (I’ll do whichever date is best for the majority of participants.)

Four – The Horn Blew and I Began to Wake Up: Elul

Five – This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: Selichot

Six – The Horn Blows, the Gates Swing Open, and We Feel the Winds of Heaven: Rosh Hashanah

For the final chapters of the book, which cover the Ten Days of Repentance and Yom Kippur, I’ll encourage members of the discussion group to meet on their own in “hevruta” — groups of two or three — to discuss these chapters sometime during those Ten Days.

Seven – What the Soul Does While the Gates Are Still Open: The Ten Days of Teshuvah

Eight – The Soul Hears Its Name Being Called: Kol Nidre

Nine – Death and Yom Kippur Atone

Ten – The Gates Clang Shut: Neilah

Epilogue – The Stars Are Shining On My Head: Sukkot

If you are interested in taking part, please let me know (rebrachel at cbiweb dot org) and order yourself a book! (Here it is on Amazon.)

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