Rabbi Rachel is reading (or has recently read):
- Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood, a memoir by Leah Vincent about growing up ultra-Orthodox and how she left that world (reviewed on Velveteen Rabbi);
- The Golem and the Jinni, speculative fiction by Helene Wacker which imagines a golem (a Jewish mythological creature made of clay, shaped like a human being) meeting a jinni (a Muslim mythological / Qur’anic creature made of fire, trapped in human form) in 1899 New York (reviewed on Velveteen Rabbi);
- The Heart of All That Is, an anthology of poems about “home” and finding home, published by Holy Cow! Press (full disclosure: I have a poem in this anthology — but I would be enjoying the other poems even if I weren’t part of the collection too);
- and Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family by Susan Katz Miller. I recently met Susan, when she came to speak to the Rabbis Without Borders fellows alumni retreat, and I find her book deeply thought-provoking (also reviewed on Velveteen Rabbi!)
And here are updates from other other regular or semi-regular shlichei tzibbur (leaders-of-prayer):
Rabbi Pam Wax reports:
- I’m reading a lot about Morocco these days to prepare for a trip to Morocco in May: I have recently read a memoir entitled “In the Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca” by Tahir Shah, a novel about a Jewish Moroccan family entitled “The Road to Fez” by Ruth Knafo Setton, and am in the middle of Paul Bowles’ “The Spider’s House.”
- I am also reading “Into the Fullness of the Void: A Spiritual Autobiography,” a beautiful memoir by Dov Elbaum, a formerly ultra-Orthodox Israeli who is trying to understand his spirituality by using the Kabbalah as a roadmap.
- What I can’t wait to begin is Ari Shavit’s “The Promised Land” which everyone I know is reading and talking about. Chaim and I just heard him speak.
- I am also reading (as well as re-reading) a number of Jewish short stories in hopes of putting together a course on Judaism through the short story.
- With my chevruta partner, I am also re-reading “Cheshbon haNefesh (An Accounting of the Soul),” a classic Mussar text.
The big news: The Central Conference of American Rabbis recently listed me as a media coach and consultant. In this work, I’ll be drawing from my religious advocacy experience to help rabbis and synagogues make better use of traditional and social media to expand and strengthen their presence and outreach. While this combination of “marketing” and Torah may seem strange to some, the reality is that the Jewish people have been self-promoting ever since we placed our Hanukkah menorahs in our windows and “branded” ourselves with words like “People of the Book.” So, I have been reading,
- Words that Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear by Frank Luntz
- Brands of Faith: Marketing Religion in a Commercial Age by Mara Einstein
- 101 Social Media Tactics for Non-Profits: A Field Guide by Melanie Mathos, et. al.
- The Radical American Judaism of Mordecai M. Kaplan, by Mel Scult. Excellent study of the most influential Jewish thinker in the 20th century. The research for this book is based on Scult’s access to Kaplan’s vast journals. To truly understand Judaism in the 20th and 21st century you need to understand Kaplan.
- The Real Name of God, by Wayne Dosick. Dosick offers an intriguing insight to the many different names and personalities of God in the Hebrew Bible.
- Mixed Up Love, by Jon Sweeney and Michal Woll. This is a challenging book about the marriage between Rabbi Woll and Sweeney who is not Jewish. Together they explore how this relationship works and why their marriage may be an important model for how intermarried couples can create a meaningful Jewish home.
- The Way of the Hen: Zen and the Art of Chicken Raising, by Clea Danaan. Although a light hearted book, the author actually makes deep connections between raising chickens, Buddhism and life in general.
- Leviticus: You Have No Idea, by Rabbi Maurice Harris. Harris’s book helps explain why Leviticus is such an important book despite the fact that it seems to be the least interest of the 5 Books of Moses. He tackles some of the biggest challenges Leviticus throws at us such as menstrual blood, sacrifices, “leprosy” and sexual behavior.
We hope you enjoy these assorted rabbinic book recommendations!