Orthodox Women Talk: Roundtable about media consumption

OWTHi, everyone! I know I pretty much never post twice in a day, but I’m hosting this month’s Orthodox Women Talk. Our panelists include:

  • Tali Simon
  • Melissa Amster
  • Ruchi Koval
  • Rivki Silver
  • Keshet Starr
  • Estee Lavitt
  • and yours truly.

This month’s question is this:

How much do you engage in popular music, movies and other forms of entertainment? What factors have contributed to that choice?

Wow! We’ve got a lot of variety in responses. Let’s see what our roundtable panelists have to say... Continue reading

My love affair with a book: Alan Morinis’s Climbing Jacob’s Ladder

My latest book crush is on Alan Morinis’s Climbing Jacob’s Ladder.

If you are a bibliophile, you’ll know what I mean: It’s that feeling you get when you finish a book and all you want to do is buy 5 used copies to hand out to people. You talk about it and think about it. You want to revisit it again and again.

In the past, I have felt this way about a few books: The Chronicle of a Death Foretold, comes to mind, as do Power Bentching by Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, and Anger: the Inner Teacher by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin (I admit to eclectic tastes).

In case you’re wondering about my newest book crush, here’s my Goodreads review of Climbing Jacob’s Ladder:

Climbing Jacob's Ladder: One Man's Journey to Rediscover a Jewish Spiritual TraditionClimbing Jacob’s Ladder: One Man’s Journey to Rediscover a Jewish Spiritual Tradition by Alan Morinis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Climbing Jacob’s Ladder combines memoir and how-to guide in an unusual way. This outstanding book details Morinis’s pursuit of self-awareness and -improvement through the tools of Mussar, an ancient Jewish strategy for character refinement. Unique among Mussar books, this relatively slim volume assumes little prior knowledge of Judaism, and is usable for non-Jews, secular Jews, and even those Orthodox Jews who are not already thoroughly immersed in the world of Mussar. Among self-awareness literature, Climbing Jacob’s Ladder stands out because it is practical, not touchy-feely or new-agey. I also very much appreciated that Jews and non-Jews of all stripes are portrayed with insight, a lack of judgement, and great sensitivity. For those new to Jewish thought and philosophy, this is a must-read.

View all my reviews

This leads me to a question for my blog readers:

Is there a book you’ve had a crush on recently? I want to hear about it, particularly if it is a Jewish book! Please share the details in the comments.

How attached are you to your dreams?

Taking feedback and running with it

I’m still thinking about the story that I mentioned in a post earlier this week, the one that I ran by the beta-testers that I’d acquired through my newsletter.

On Monday, my sister phoned, and she wanted to know about the comments people had made about the story (she had been one of those to offer feedback). In particular, she wanted to know which comments were those which I’d mentioned had popped up multiple times.

I told her what the comment was, and then added: Continue reading

My review of Letters from Mir and the wonders of primary sources

Last week, The Jewish Home L.A. ran my review of the new book, Letters From Mir. Of the books I’ve reviewed professionally in the last couple months, it was the one that surprised me most, on more than one level.

When I read the cover blurb, I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about the book. I warmed up a bit while reading the introductions (yes, that’s plural), but was completely won over once I hit the actual letters. These form the centerpiece of the volume, and they consist of those by and addressed to a young rabbi and yeshiva student, Rabbi Ernest Gugenheim during the tumultuous period that preceded the Second World War.

If you want to read about that book, you can do so here, but my favorite thing about the book touches on a topic that can be applied more widely: the importance of primary sources in understanding the past.  Continue reading