One way to know someone more deeply is to find out what they’re reading. Board member Pattie Lipman asked our shlichei tzibbur (prayer leaders) what they are reading, and here’s what they said in response!
Rabbi Rachel Barenblat is reading:
- Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo, a wonderful novel about an ordinary guy who winds up on a road trip with his sister’s guru. I read this while on vacation earlier this summer, and am hoping soon to begin the sequel, Lunch with Buddha;
- Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Torah Min HaShamayim b’Aspeklaria HaDorot / Heavenly Torah As Refracted Through the Generations (translation and commentary by Gordon Tucker) — this is what the Wednesday morning clergy Torah study group reads at Tunnel City each week, and it’s incredibly rich and dense and beautiful;
- Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, about the ways in which America’s prison system enshrines a kind of invisible racism — depressing but powerful;
- and, as I do every year at this season, I’m re-reading Rabbi Alan Lew’s This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: the Days of Awe as a Journey of Spiritual Transformation. This is one of my very favorite books to read as we approach the Days of Awe. The spiritual teachings are just tremendous, and every year they speak to me anew.
Rabbi Pam Wax is reading
- Colum McCann’s new book TransAtlantic;
- Eitan Fishbane’s memoir about his wife’s tragic death (at age 32!) Shadows in Winter: A Memoir of Love and Loss. I teach in Eitan’s “Practical Hasidism” class at JTS every year, and he gave me the memoir as a gift because of all the bereavement groups I lead.
- My Mussar hevruta partner and I are slogging through Avraham ben haRamban’s (Maimonides’ son) Mussar tome The Guide to Serving God, from the year 1230.
- And I am re-reading (for the 3rd or 4th time) the most seminal Mussar classic, Mesillat Yesharim/The Path of the Just (early 1700’s) to try to keep at least a half step ahead of the rabbi/cantor Mussar group I lead.
She adds: “There are a lot of books I dabble in regularly but don’t read cover-to-cover — Naomi Levy’s amazing book of personal prayers, Talking to God is a mainstay, as are the poetry books of Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai.”
Rabbi Howard Cohen is reading
- Burnt Books: Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav and Franz Kafka, by Rodger Kamenetz;
- Building Singing Communities: A Practical Guide to Unlocking the power of Music in Jewish Prayer, Joey Weisenberg; and
- Mending the Heart, Tending the Soul: Directions to the Garden Within, by Gail Albert.