This season has brought joy and blessing to our family. Our fourth grandchild, our second grandson, was born January 14, at a strapping 9 pounds, 2 ounces. His name is Reuven Yitzchak (Robert Issac), carrying the name of both his great-grandfathers.
We feel enormously blessed to have children who are bringing in a new generation to the world. So many people are not making parenthood a priority; and I hope they will change their minds for all the right reasons! We are especially fortunate that our grandchildren live nearby, filling our lives with joy, trips to the park, and yes, sometimes sprained shoulders or sore backs from too much lifting of little people topping 30 or 40 pounds!
This was also the third time I had the privilege of attending a grandchild’s birth. It is dramatic and awesome to witness it. What a miracle!
New columns, reviews, and other professional news
Professionally I have also been busy. My recent columns on Aish.com include my observations after my first experience knowing someone who chose physician-assisted suicide — something that affected me very powerfully. Other columns focused on Harvey Weinstein and the “Me-Too” phenomenon, a promising twist in the world of fashion, and more. You can check out my whole line up of stories on this wonderful website here.
I also taught my first Zoom-based seminar on the mechanics of persuasive writing to a group of women writers around the world. It was so satisfying to teach what I have learned over the course of so many years, and I look forward to more such opportunities.
My new book, The Skeptic and the Rabbi: Falling in Love with Faith, has earned a growing number of glowing reviews, and was chosen as the book review of the month in December on Story Circle Network.
Reviewer Susan Hanson wrote: “While offering the reader a greater understanding of Orthodox practices, Gruen’s memoir can speak to a person of any faith–or even none. Indeed, the experience she describes could easily belong to a young Muslim woman who chooses to wear the hijab in defiance of her family, or a Christian who forgoes a lucrative career to work with the poor. At heart, this is a book about finding and claiming one’s identity, about authentic choices, about embracing tradition out of love and not duty.”
In addition to appearing on a number of radio programs and podcasts, writer Kylie Lobell did a nice profile of me in the Jewish Journal.
I am so pleased by the enthusiastic reception to my book. If you don’t have a copy yet, don’t wait any longer! Please consider making your purchase from Barnes & Noble, which has generously stocked the book in many stores and of course also online. Reviews are especially appreciated on both Barnes & Noble and Amazon, by the way.
Are you a member of a book club? If so, The Skeptic and the Rabbi has a terrific readers’ guide, and I am happily bookable for Skype- or Zoom-based book club events!
This has also truly been “the winter of our discontent,” with virulent flu viruses causing mayhem and misery for millions of people. I have been among those hit hard, and still trying to recover my full strength after being walloped very suddenly on December 10 — a night that will live in infamy for me. It came over me minutes after Jeff and I were seated in the balcony section of a concert hall and enjoying the Concerto Number 3 in G Major of the full set of Brandenburg Concertos, played by the wonderful Los Angeles County Chamber Orchestra. We had to leave before the first movement finished, presto! I hope I will be fully energetic again soon, and I hope all of YOU are well and stay that way!
With warm wishes for a healthy rest of the winter,