I write this just two days before the holiday of Passover — a holiday incomparably rich with spiritual depth and meaning. It has always been striking to me that even Jews who have become distant from observing most other holidays or the Sabbath, participate eagerly in a Passover seder. There is something so momentous in the historical sweep of the narrative, so much to consider and review about God’s personal intervention in the Jewish exodus from slavery to peoplehood, that it’s no wonder this holiday has such staying power.
For those of you who celebrate Passover, I wish you a meaningful and inspiring experience!
Speaking of Passover, here is a column I wrote titled Invite These Five Women to Your Seder, about the women who were instrumental in the Exodus story.
I will also have an essay in the Jewish Journal titled “The Atheist at the Seder,” which should be online by March 29. If you’ve read my memoir, The Skeptic and the Rabbi, you will recognize the story and, I hope, will appreciate the message!
Unrelated to Passover, I also have a review of a new movie called A Bag of Marbles, about the extraordinary experience of two French brothers during the Holocaust and how they survived. It is in French with English subtitles, and is currently in theaters in L.A. and New York, with a continued rollout to other cities in coming weeks.
Books I’ve Recently Enjoyed
I find myself returning to favorite reads now and then, including Sense and Sensibility (followed, of course, by the excellent 1995 film adaptation) and Edith Wharton’s short story collection Roman Fever. I also just finished The House at Tyneford and We Were the Lucky Ones, both of which are World War II-period novels, both very well done. For Passover reading, I bought a Hagaddah with brilliant and deep insightful commentary by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
Have you been meaning to download a copy of The Skeptic and the Rabbi, but haven’t gotten around to it yet? Don’t wait any longer! Now through April 14, the ebook versions on Kindle, Nook and Kobo are only .99!
Latest reviews of The Skeptic and the Rabbi
“Honesty shines throughout the book, as Gruen refuses to sugarcoat her narrative. The memoir is a terrific read for anyone curious about the Torah lifestyle,” wrote Leah Aharoni in her review of my book in the current issue of Jewish Action Magazine.
I am so pleased and proud to have this new review, as well as one by the Association of Jewish Librarians. From their review: “A thoughtful guide for people―young and old, individuals and couples―seeking greater connection and meaning in Judaism. Recommended for synagogue libraries.”
After a long winter, I am heartened to see the first buds on one of my favorite trees in my backyard — you’d think I would know the name of it if it’s my favorite, but I do not. The pink buds will slowly open into lovely heart-shaped green leaves, and our lemon tree is sprouting new fruits every day, which I look forward to picking and using in my tea and in my cooking.
I am still — still! — not back to my full energy. My malaise has been slightly mysterious, and I have dosed up on Chinese herbs, supplements, rest, acupuncture, chiropractic sessions, and contemplation. Maybe I did that in the wrong order! All are working, but too slowly for my impatient self. One lesson I know I have to learn is to just accept what is happening and have faith that God will allow me to regain my full strength as He renews and restores the bloom on trees and plants for spring.
Wishing you all good health, happiness and the pleasures of spring!