Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Less a book review than a rant: Here All Along, by Sarah Hurwitz

Here's my so-called review of Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life-in Judaism (after Finally Choosing to Look There), by Sarah Hurwitz:  It's a pretty good, and pretty frank, introduction to Judaism, with no apologetics or apologies.  I recommend it to anyone, particularly those with little or no Jewish education and/or background.

I'd like to write more, but that's all I can remember.

It's not that this book isn't good, it's just that I got stuck on one particularly point, and it bugged me so much that I forgot everything else.


When I first learned about this Jewish meditation practice, I was thoroughly offended as a feminist.  Here's this guy who spends all day working and/or studying,and also prays three services every day; then, instead of coming home, he spends yet another hour talking to Gd, while his semi-abandoned wife makes the dinner, helps the older kids with their homework, changes diapers, bathes the toddler . . .  An old friend and I were talking about hitbodedut and remembering what motherhood was like for us when our children were still very young--we couldn't even go to the bathroom without a crying kid banging on the door, much less spend an hour in the woods talking to Gd.

You might think that the fact that women are now practicing hitbodedut would solve the problem, but women's participation solves only half of it.  Even putting aside the logistical challenge of practicing hitbodedut when one has major care-giving responsibilities, such as taking care of tiny tots or aging parents, hitbodedut still upsets me, for a more fundamental reason--the entire point of hitbodedut is to take the pray-er out of the synagogue.

Full disclosure:  I've been a "synagogue regular" every Shabbat (Sabbath) and holiday morning for decades.  The synagogue that I've been attending for most of those decades "downsized" over a decade ago--our current building is so small and we have so little outdoor space that there's literally not enough room to hold a socially-distanced service.  That same shul is now in serious danger of becoming an institutional victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So yes, reading a book written by an author who spent several years trying to catch up on her Jewish education and still won't set foot in a synagogue more than three times a year just plain ticked me off.

There, I said it.  Let the chips fall where they may.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) Hitbodedut is separate from prayer. It's not intended to be the obligatory prayer. It's intended to foster a closer, more intimate relationship with Hashem.

2) Why do you care? Some people get stuff out of shul. Others don't. I daven in shul because it's obligatory (as a man) but honestly, my davening during corona has never been better. Your problem is that you interpret feminism to mean that women have to be exactly like men, as opposed to having options. Why do you get to invalidate other peoples' experiences and choices? When I do practice hitbodedut, I frequently find it more meaningful than straight up davening.

3) You tend to be quite judgy about people who make different choices than you would. That's unfair.

Thu Jul 23, 05:25:00 AM 2020  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

3) Guilty as charged. :(

1) My concern is that there's not always equal access for *anyone* who wants to practice hitbodedut.

2) It's just an annoyance that so many women who won't set foot in a synagogue that's not egalitarian won't set foot in a synagogue that *is* egalitarian, either. I confess that I do have trouble validating other people's choices, probably because without the support of other people, my own choices might either not exist or might disappear.

Thu Jul 23, 01:58:00 PM 2020  

Post a Comment

<< Home

<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>