On Friday it turned blisteringly HOT here in Los Angeles. We had been fortunate that all of Spring, and all of June were lovely and temperate. It was only a matter of time before the sun began to beat down on us in the triple digits. It was so hot, in fact, that in the midst of writing this long-overdue note we had a power outage in my neighborhood, so there went not only my plans to press the “send” button to my subscribers, but I also had to scramble to bring our Shabbat meal to the friends we had invited here for dinner.
It would have been no fun to have a meal in a meltingly hot, dark dining room, so we went to our friends instead, whose AC was on, but when we walked home at 10:30 p.m., the city workers were still trying to get the power back on after six hours. Very fortunately, most of our block was already powered up and our AC was laboring to cool down the house. I hope the rest of the summer won’t be quite this scorching here, and for you, wherever you live!
Since it’s been so long since I’ve sent out a note, there is a longer-than-usual list of recent articles to share with you. I’m pleased to have made my first contribution to The Wisdom Daily, with a column about my sometimes conflicted feelings when charity-seekers knock on my door.
And on Aish.com, I hope you will check out my story about the marvelous new movie, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, about Fred Rogers. This documentary is fascinating, heartwarming, and important. It’s very much about the values of caring and civility, and of putting children first in a meaningful way, not a superficial one.
Other pieces on Aish.com include an essay about mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationships, as seen through the Book of Ruth; my review of the Amy Schumer comedy, I Feel Pretty, a mediocre movie that explores an interesting question, about the role of confidence in making a woman feel attractive; and an essay reflecting on interfaith marriages.
Check out my reviews on Goodreads from these terrific titles: If All the Seas Were Ink, a memoir by Ilana Kurshan; Come Back for Me, historical fiction by Sharon Hart-Greene, Conversations with God: Prayers for Jewish Women, a lovely, relatable guide to prayers by Ruchi Koval, and Jumping Over Shadows, Annette Gendler’s fascinating story about her conversion to Judaism as a gentile growing up in post-war Germany.
Not yet reviewed but highly recommended: Ann Patchett’s wonderful novels Commonwealth and Bel Canto. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to getting around to reading the work of this tremendously talented and justly acclaimed author.
I am excited to announce that an audiobook of The Skeptic and the Rabbi: Falling in Love with Faith, will soon be in the works. In recent months I have been listening to dozens of potential narrators, trying to find that special voice who can best capture my own in telling this very personal story. I’m down to a few finalists, both extremely talented but with quite different tones. I never imagined it would be so hard to choose! I’ll certainly keep you posted when the audiobook is available; I hope by the end of the summer.
More 5-star reviews are being added to my book’s Amazon page; if you have not yet read my memoir, or have been waiting for “the right time,” now is it! It is available in both softcover and ebook and makes a wonderful gift, book club selection. I’m so pleased that several high school and college writing instructors are also planning to add it to their class lists this fall.
From the latest Amazon reviews:
“Judy Gruen makes her memoir about embracing Jewish religious observances extremely warm and with a healthy sprinkling of humor. It can probably resonate with people from any faith. This is a very realistic look at Orthodox Judaism through the eyes of a woman who had many preconceived ideas.”
“I have recently begun digging into the Jewish roots of my faith. I’m sure exactly where to begin I didn’t know what to expect when I got this book but I was so quickly drawn in and it wasn’t long before I finished reading this one. It’s amazing how everything comes to life within the pages of this book. So many amazing things I learned simple details that weren’t as simple as I once thought. And so many wonderful ideas I gained for myself as to how to move forward and live this out within my family.”
Finally, I have all but wrapped up another book project that has taken a great deal of concentrated time and energy. I can’t say too much about it because this time, I have been the ghostwriter, the silent partner behind the author of record. I welcomed this opportunity after the intensity of working on my memoir and the surprising fatigue that followed its publication. I am proud of this book as well, and am gratified that I have helped a person of great erudition and wisdom bring his message to the public.
I thank all of you who continue to follow my work, read and recommend my books, and write to me via my website or on Facebook. It is such a pleasure and satisfaction to have your support.
Stay well, stay cool, and read great books!
With warm wishes (unrelated to the outside heat),