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Although she grew up following some holiday rituals, Pogrebin realized how little she knew about their foundational purpose and contemporary relevance; she wanted to understand what had kept these holidays alive and vibrant, some for thousands of years. Her curiosity led her to embark on an entire year of intensive research, observation, and writing about the milestones on Although she grew up following some holiday rituals, Pogrebin realized how little she knew about their foundational purpose and contemporary relevance; she wanted to understand what had kept these holidays alive and vibrant, some for thousands of years. Her curiosity led her to embark on an entire year of intensive research, observation, and writing about the milestones on the Jewish religious calendar.


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Although she grew up following some holiday rituals, Pogrebin realized how little she knew about their foundational purpose and contemporary relevance; she wanted to understand what had kept these holidays alive and vibrant, some for thousands of years. Her curiosity led her to embark on an entire year of intensive research, observation, and writing about the milestones on Although she grew up following some holiday rituals, Pogrebin realized how little she knew about their foundational purpose and contemporary relevance; she wanted to understand what had kept these holidays alive and vibrant, some for thousands of years. Her curiosity led her to embark on an entire year of intensive research, observation, and writing about the milestones on the Jewish religious calendar.

30 review for My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    (4.5) Like many an American Jew, Abigail Pogrebin was used to marking a limited number of holidays: Hanukkah, the Passover seder, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the occasional Sabbath dinner. Her mother, who co-founded Ms. magazine with Gloria Steinem, also inducted her and her twin sister into a special feminist seder. Pogrebin circumcised her son, and watched him and her daughter celebrate their bar and bat mitzvah. Yet she had the nagging feeling that she had never genuinely locked into her o (4.5) Like many an American Jew, Abigail Pogrebin was used to marking a limited number of holidays: Hanukkah, the Passover seder, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the occasional Sabbath dinner. Her mother, who co-founded Ms. magazine with Gloria Steinem, also inducted her and her twin sister into a special feminist seder. Pogrebin circumcised her son, and watched him and her daughter celebrate their bar and bat mitzvah. Yet she had the nagging feeling that she had never genuinely locked into her own religious tradition, and she longed to go beyond the beginner stage to truly understand what was going on here. So from September 2014 to September 2015, she celebrated all the Jewish holidays on the yearly calendar (actually 20), initially writing about them for a monthly article series for the Forward, and here including several additional chapters about observing Shabbat. With every holiday Pogrebin seeks to move beyond clichés and simplistic interpretations, interviewing rabbis and scholars of every stripe and reading Torah commentaries to discover meanings she’s missed before. So Yom Kippur isn’t just the day of atonement; it’s a time for pondering the possibility of your own death, taking stock of the life you’ve lived and asking what must change. Hanukkah, uncomfortably, is not just about persecution but about Jew-on-Jew violence. Sukkot is a reminder of impermanence and the need to rely on God. There are opposite strands running through the Jewish ritual year: gratitude for survival (Purim) versus sorrow at grave tragedies (Holocaust Remembrance Day); feasting versus fasting. Observance ranges from dancing and eating symbolic fruits to sweeping the kitchen free of crumbs with a feather and reading an interminable list of victims’ names aloud. Whether she’s ultimately appreciative or bewildered, Pogrebin chooses to see the worth in recreating historical dramas. However, true to the Jewish character, she always wrestles with what she’s learning: when it’s hard, when it contradicts American culture, or when it feels outdated, she says so. I might have liked more in the way of personal disclosure (although forthcoming about things like her father-in-law’s death, she mostly keeps her own heart and conscience at a remove from the religious lessons, remaining an observer), but this is a minor criticism. This is such a bighearted and open-minded book. I was consistently impressed by how Pogrebin draws thematic connections and locates the resonance of religious ritual in her daily life. With an eye to readability, she gives useful background information on each holiday and finishes with a recap and an extensive glossary. The book strikes me as a model for how any person of faith should engage with their tradition: not just offering lip service and grudgingly showing up to a few services a year, but knowing what you believe and practice, and why. Favorite lines: “it’s a quintessential Jewish act: seeking, grappling. If you’re reaching, it’s because you believe there’s something to grab hold of.” “I’m beginning to think that Judaism is obsessed with brevity and instability. But rather than finding the message depressing, it’s clarifying.” “Judaism is always asking us to apply epic stories to everyday decisions.” “Judaism reminds us not to run from transitions, but to consecrate them.” A shorter version of this review appears alongside two other theology titles for an Easter post on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Erika Dreifus

    Delighted to be part of the team at Fig Tree Books that will be bringing this book to readers early next year.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    I received a free copy of My Jewish Year 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew by Abigail Pogrebin in exchange for an honest review. The concept of this book intrigued me from the onset. In the introduction, the reader learns of Ms. Pogrebin's upbringing. It reminded me of my own. Her family observed the major Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover and some Shabbat dinners which included lighting shabbat candles "when convenient" (in her own words). Her neighborhood and friends were m I received a free copy of My Jewish Year 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew by Abigail Pogrebin in exchange for an honest review. The concept of this book intrigued me from the onset. In the introduction, the reader learns of Ms. Pogrebin's upbringing. It reminded me of my own. Her family observed the major Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover and some Shabbat dinners which included lighting shabbat candles "when convenient" (in her own words). Her neighborhood and friends were mostly Jewish. However, she felt a disconnect. She was never taught the meaning behind many of the holidays she observed and realized there were many holidays on the Jewish calendar that she knew nothing about. Later,she was content living her married life as an American Jewish wife and mother in this way. Then something began to nag at her. She wanted to know more. Her quest began with weekly Torah learning. This led to her becoming a Bat Mitzvah at age 40 and finally finding a home at Central Synagogue, a Reform synagogue in New York City. Abigail's curiosity and quest for more answers concerning the Jewish holidays compelled her to pursue the answers and experience observing all the holidays that had eluded her. I found it very interesting to read the explanations and insights from the many Rabbis (of various denominations), intellectuals, and political representatives that Abigail Pogrebin chose to interview. Their insights into traditions and customs were quite insightful. Like Abigail, I learned something that I had not known before about each holiday and came to understand some better than before I read her book. As young girl, I went to public school, attended Hebrew school 3 days a week after school, lived in a primarily Jewish neighborhood and had mostly Jewish friends. My parents did not really encourage me to attend Hebrew school but I liked it and encouraged them to continue sending me. I felt at home at our synagogue. It was a conservative synagogue, but men and women sat on separate sides and all prayers were read in Hebrew. From an early age, I became a regular at Saturday morning Shabbat services..first at Junior Congregation and later in the main Sanctuary. It felt right. I was one of three to become a Bat Mitzvah from our whole class. However, like Abigail Pogrebin, my family only observed Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Passover. I still do and will probably continue to do so. After marrying and having children of my own, a Reform synagogue became our home, too. Both of my daughters became Bat Mitzvah,too. I tried to instill in them the traditions I grew up with. I have definitely become more insightful about the Jewish holidays since reading Abigail Pogrebin's book. I admire her for plunging into a year of learning. At times, I felt like I was right there with her. I enjoyed reading My Jewish Year and would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about Jewish holidays, traditions and customs.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Before I get started, a standard disclosure: I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway, and I am friends with one of the editors at Fig Tree Books who worked on this memoir. At the beginning of her book about choosing to observe the Jewish holidays more intently than she ever had before, Abigail Pogrebin humorously lists the reactions of her non-Jewish friends, non-observant Jewish friends, and observant Jewish friends when she tells them about her plan. I think Before I get started, a standard disclosure: I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway, and I am friends with one of the editors at Fig Tree Books who worked on this memoir. At the beginning of her book about choosing to observe the Jewish holidays more intently than she ever had before, Abigail Pogrebin humorously lists the reactions of her non-Jewish friends, non-observant Jewish friends, and observant Jewish friends when she tells them about her plan. I think this is a good way to enter her book, because no reader will be able to approach her story from a tabula rasa. Pogrebin’s memoir is one that inevitably will be read and appreciated on a variety of levels, depending on the experience the reader brings to it. In my own case, I grew up in a classic American Jewish way: non-observant but affiliated with the Conservative movement, and leaving behind my Jewish education after I became a Bar Mitzvah. But in graduate school I drifted into more observance, and today I identify with the Modern Orthodox movement. In a way, this made me a good reader for her book, as I could view it from the perspective of someone who did something similar: started from very little observance and built up to observe the holidays more. Given that, my general feeling about this book is that it is perfect for two audiences. Non-Jews and non-observant Jews alike will find a lot to learn about and think about from Pogrebin’s memoir. For those who are not Jewish, Pogrebin’s book is an excellent introduction to the Jewish holidays and to Jewish observance as it is really practiced among the majority of American Jews who choose to do so. Jews who aren’t observant will find a lot of Jewish ritual they are already familiar with but will also learn about Jewish observances, such as the minor fasts, that they may very well have never heard of before. Observant Jews may also find the book of interest but troubling. One set of observant Jews will find much of what Pogrebin mentions to be overly familiar, as they already observe all the holidays she mentions; another set will probably respond with curiosity to her discussion of the more liberal practices that she incorporates into her journey. A third set will read about her looser practices and so might dismiss her experiences. Indeed, I think I was expecting Pogrebin to have spent a more “shomer shabbas, shomer kashrut” year when I started the book, but that was clearly not her intent and I should not criticize the book for being other than what I expected. (Other readers might not end up being so generous.) There was one odd omission. Despite her stated intent to observe and write about every single Jewish holiday on the calendar, Pogrebin never, not once, mentions Rosh Chodesh, the minor holiday of the beginning of each Hebrew month. I have no idea why she skipped it; perhaps the editors felt the book was running long; perhaps she felt a holiday whose only observance is the addition of some prayers to the liturgy wasn’t as vital to cover. I think its omission stood out for me because I know liberal and Reform Jewish women like Pogrebin who have chosen to claim Rosh Chodesh as an important holiday for women to acknowledge. It seemed like an obvious connection for Pogrebin to make as well. Whatever her reasons, I’m hoping she’ll tackle it in another book. I want to thank Fig Tree Books for the opportunity to review an ARC of Pogrebin’s memoir; as I said, there is a wide audience out there for whom this book will be vital reading, and I hope they find it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lily

    I am partial about this book, and here is why: THE GOOD It was super informative for me on the history of various jewish holidays, the origins of the various customs associated with them, gave different perspectives from different rabbis and known people in the field. As my starting point was pretty much zero knowledge on the origins of these holidays, I feel like I did learn a lot. THE BAD It was just very hard for me to get past the so privileged, upper class New Yorker Jew life that the author I am partial about this book, and here is why: THE GOOD It was super informative for me on the history of various jewish holidays, the origins of the various customs associated with them, gave different perspectives from different rabbis and known people in the field. As my starting point was pretty much zero knowledge on the origins of these holidays, I feel like I did learn a lot. THE BAD It was just very hard for me to get past the so privileged, upper class New Yorker Jew life that the author is leading. Lovely extended family and summer houses included. Gosh... Very hard. There are so many different kind of Jews in the world, and different ways of celebrating the holidays, that I felt that the book was very narrow in its focus. I, for one, a non-American Jew, did not feel represented in the book at all. It felt strange and almost foreign. At the end of the book I felt more excluded than ever, actually. I understand that the book was her own personal journey, and it is important, I suppose, to be read as such. More important than I would like. So here you have it - after reading this book, i am feeling more informed about the Jewish tradition, and more isolated it at the same time.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Barlis

    As the non-Jewish spouse of a Jewish man, raising Jewish kids, I learned so much from this book!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Judie

    Abigail Pogrebin grew up in a Jewish home. Her family celebrated Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, two Passover Seders, and occasional Friday Shabbats. In 2014, she decided she wanted to learn more about her religion and began a one-year mission to learn about the eighteen annual Jewish holidays (including six fast days), when and how they originated, what they are about, and how they are celebrated. During that period, she visited a synagogue (sometime more than one) on every religious holi Abigail Pogrebin grew up in a Jewish home. Her family celebrated Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, two Passover Seders, and occasional Friday Shabbats. In 2014, she decided she wanted to learn more about her religion and began a one-year mission to learn about the eighteen annual Jewish holidays (including six fast days), when and how they originated, what they are about, and how they are celebrated. During that period, she visited a synagogue (sometime more than one) on every religious holiday and provides a brief history of each, comparing ideas and practices from many different people (mostly rabbis) and sources, primarily in New York City where she lived. She spoke to Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist rabbis and read about their interpretations of the holidays. The result is MY JEWISH YEAR Among her many observations, she tells of the relationship between Hanukkah and Passover, each is celebrated for eight days. She quotes a few rabbis about the sexiness of Sukkot. She tells the reasons for the six fast days during the year. She does not delve deeply into Jewish history or discuss the topic of the sections of the Torah read each Shabbat. On the whole, the book is not judgmental; it is more of a journal of what she saw and learned as well as how her journey affected her, her husband, and her children as well as other relatives and friends. I attended an afterschool/weekend religious school for twelve years. I went to services almost every Shabbath and for New Year, Yom Kippur, the three festivals (Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot), Simchat Torah, Hanukkah, and Shavuot. I also served on the board of my Conservative synagogue and as president of the sisterhood. I thought I knew almost everything about my religion. After my mother died, I attended the daily minyan twice a day for eleven months. I learned a lot more, especially about the services themselves. By reading MY JEWISH YEAR, I learned even more. Some interesting insights: At Yom Kippur, we think about how, on that day, G-d seals our fate for the coming year, naming very specific ways that cause a person’s death. During that year, she thought of how people she knew had died. Commenting on one of her sources for this book, she says how a little anxiety about what will happen to us during the year can have the positive result of encouraging us to act more thoughtfully throughout the entire year. A person has to be deepened by the Torah; not blinded by it. One cannot hide in a cave and practice the religion. One has to live with other people and engage with them. Rashi became very judgmental after living in a cave for twelve years and had to go back for another year. We are commanded to pursue justice. She asks each of us to consider what we have done to honor that commandment. I received a review copy of from Goodreads First Reads two weeks before Passover and immediately turned to that section of the book. In it I found some suggestions to update our Seders as well as two items that can be used for devarim (readings) at shul during the holiday.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I think it's a nice tribute to this book that so many who have commented here are not connected with the Jewish religion. I am one of those (agnostic, in fact.) For me, the most interesting and impressive aspect of the entire book was the variety of ways that the Jewish holidays approach religious feeling: joy, repentance, uncertainty about the future, social responsibility... and cheesecake. (The light sense of humor mostly appealed to me as well.) The author approached her subject wisely, direc I think it's a nice tribute to this book that so many who have commented here are not connected with the Jewish religion. I am one of those (agnostic, in fact.) For me, the most interesting and impressive aspect of the entire book was the variety of ways that the Jewish holidays approach religious feeling: joy, repentance, uncertainty about the future, social responsibility... and cheesecake. (The light sense of humor mostly appealed to me as well.) The author approached her subject wisely, directly relating her own family practices and her in-the-moment responses to the practices she observed in order to write the book. It was a pleasure to "visit" a variety of synagogues with her. Had she left it at that, her story would have been interesting, but somewhat lightweight. She gave it a more complete and more serious approach by including several personable, well-spoken rabbis and other experts to describe and explain the nature of each holiday. I felt that I not only learned about the holidays themselves but shared one woman's experiences and even gained some insight into different ways of seeing the world that might in some way apply to my own life. (I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway.)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I assumed this was "just" a holiday primer and wasn't personally interested in reading it even though I admire and respect Abigail Pogrebin's previous books and writing. But after at least three people recommended it to me and said they thought it would be a good pick for the Sisterhood Torah Fund Book Club, I gave in and took it home from the library. I only had to get through Ch.3 "The Fast of Gedaliah" before I ordered myself my own copy and realized that this would be THE PERFECT book to ope I assumed this was "just" a holiday primer and wasn't personally interested in reading it even though I admire and respect Abigail Pogrebin's previous books and writing. But after at least three people recommended it to me and said they thought it would be a good pick for the Sisterhood Torah Fund Book Club, I gave in and took it home from the library. I only had to get through Ch.3 "The Fast of Gedaliah" before I ordered myself my own copy and realized that this would be THE PERFECT book to open our 10th book club season in October. So interesting, so thought provoking, so enlightening, so inspiring . . . and so worthwhile especially right before the start of a new Jewish Year.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tatiana

    My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew is a commitment to read, but it’s nothing compared to what author, Abigail Pogrebin, went through in order to compile it. Jews have a lot of holidays, many that require weeks or days of preparations, and many that go on for days. Just reading about it all is enough to fatigue, let alone participate in each, as Pogrebin did. And yes, observant Jews do it year after year, but there is something to be said for building up stamina. That Pogrebin was a p My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew is a commitment to read, but it’s nothing compared to what author, Abigail Pogrebin, went through in order to compile it. Jews have a lot of holidays, many that require weeks or days of preparations, and many that go on for days. Just reading about it all is enough to fatigue, let alone participate in each, as Pogrebin did. And yes, observant Jews do it year after year, but there is something to be said for building up stamina. That Pogrebin was a partially-practicing Jew, and someone who was bat mitzvah later in life, was an integral part of what made her memoir relatable to me. I have some Jewish blood, and it’s always been an aspect of my lineage that’s intrigued, but also retained a mysterious quality. The “wondering” aspect of this book resonated and nurtured my curiosity of the Jewish religion and lifestyle. Something else that set this book apart was the research that Pogrebin did for each holiday. Rather than simply write her experience, step by step, she went to great lengths to interview rabbis and scholars in the field to dig deeper into history and Talmud. I thought I knew at least the High Holy Days fairly well, but the untold story of Hanukkah alone had me recanting. There is a lot to learn under the surface. The entire book was a humbling experience, and fascinating. To have the traditions explained for purpose and spiritual value, as well as connected to history, other holidays, and significance to today's Jewish people and the world at large, was invaluable. Now that I have exhausted the library copy, I will have to get a copy of my own.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mitchell

    Awful. It purports to be a traversal of the Jewish year by examining the holidays, but instead it is an egocentric study of how to turn Judaism into something that is merely tolerable. In order truly to learn something, you need to give your ego a backseat. I don't believe that she learned much throughout this year because she was constantly injecting herself and how she felt about it into the procedings, instead of truly understanding what she was studying. Do I need to know that her synagogue r Awful. It purports to be a traversal of the Jewish year by examining the holidays, but instead it is an egocentric study of how to turn Judaism into something that is merely tolerable. In order truly to learn something, you need to give your ego a backseat. I don't believe that she learned much throughout this year because she was constantly injecting herself and how she felt about it into the procedings, instead of truly understanding what she was studying. Do I need to know that her synagogue rented out Avery Fisher Hall for the High Holidays? Do I care about her son's high school graduation? We don't find out much about the holidays except as it affects her life and world. She keeps on talking about how she still can't do much with Hebrew. Why not? If studying Judaism via the holidays and getting a deeper understand of it all was the object of this 'journey' wouldn't something as basic as learning the rudiments of Hebrew be critical to the exercise? It makes me question the sincerity of her effort. It seems she did as little as possible so that she could generate a book-length memoir of doubtful interest. Keep moving folks, there's nothing to learn here

  12. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Stover Hobbs

    First, I am not jewish. Be that as it may, I wanted to read this to learn more about the jewish people. My parents at one time owned a kosher style deli in Las Vegas Nevada so I did not go into this completely blind to the faith/religion. I loved reading this book. It was funny, informative, interesting and made me think I could be her friend. This is not always true with all authors. Of course I am of an age where I read Erma Bombeck and laughed out loud in public no less! So, I recommend this t First, I am not jewish. Be that as it may, I wanted to read this to learn more about the jewish people. My parents at one time owned a kosher style deli in Las Vegas Nevada so I did not go into this completely blind to the faith/religion. I loved reading this book. It was funny, informative, interesting and made me think I could be her friend. This is not always true with all authors. Of course I am of an age where I read Erma Bombeck and laughed out loud in public no less! So, I recommend this to everyone, no matter your religious faith. This brings you closer to her as a person and as I said you will learn a thing or two. My only criticism is the forward is a little long. Both of them, hers and her friends. You could dial the first one back a notch or two. Then again if you have absolutely no idea what is involved in this religion you will want to read all of the forwards. I hope everyone who reads this enjoys it as much as I did.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    I received my copy of this book thru the Goodreads Giveaway program. I don't know why the Jewish religion is so facinating to me - I was born and raised a Methodist, and more recently, have celebrated worship in a Lutheran church, but, perhaps it is the ritual, the ties to the past, the present and the future, that draw me in so strongly. Abigail Pogrebin is a gifted writer, and her exploration of the major AND minor Jewish holidays, and the reason behind them, is both enlightening and entertain I received my copy of this book thru the Goodreads Giveaway program. I don't know why the Jewish religion is so facinating to me - I was born and raised a Methodist, and more recently, have celebrated worship in a Lutheran church, but, perhaps it is the ritual, the ties to the past, the present and the future, that draw me in so strongly. Abigail Pogrebin is a gifted writer, and her exploration of the major AND minor Jewish holidays, and the reason behind them, is both enlightening and entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and believe that it will give people who are wondering, and wandering, a footing in spiritual life that they may have been missing. I would happily have paid to read this book, and will keep it, to read again. Thank you, Ms. Pogrebin, for opening my eyes and my heart a bit more - matzel tov :)

  14. 4 out of 5

    natalie

    Thanks Goodreads for allowing me the opportunity to win this book. My Jewish Year is a very well-written and well-researched book of what I'd call finding your past. I can't imagine myself that dedicated to finding out in such depth the 18 Jewish holidays. I'd confirm the front page "one Wondering Jew" statement. I consider myself someone who loves to find out facts and get down to the nitty, gritty of things, but would never find myself that dedicated to doing what Abiail Pogrebin has done in t Thanks Goodreads for allowing me the opportunity to win this book. My Jewish Year is a very well-written and well-researched book of what I'd call finding your past. I can't imagine myself that dedicated to finding out in such depth the 18 Jewish holidays. I'd confirm the front page "one Wondering Jew" statement. I consider myself someone who loves to find out facts and get down to the nitty, gritty of things, but would never find myself that dedicated to doing what Abiail Pogrebin has done in this book. Really interesting and detailed information, but I don't think a lot of people outside of Judaism will commit to understanding the real meaning of all of this book. I may be wrong; I've been wrong before, but this is my honest opinion.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I thoroughly enjoyed Pogrebin's Jewish Year. The tone of the book is just exactly right; not preachy, but humble, not serious, but often humorous, not unduly wise, but wondering, and with a willingness on the author's part to generously share throughout. I came to this book because I am an online attendant of services at Central Synagogue where Pogrebin often sits on the bima as president. I've grown to love this congregation and all they stand for, so I was predisposed towards liking the book. I I thoroughly enjoyed Pogrebin's Jewish Year. The tone of the book is just exactly right; not preachy, but humble, not serious, but often humorous, not unduly wise, but wondering, and with a willingness on the author's part to generously share throughout. I came to this book because I am an online attendant of services at Central Synagogue where Pogrebin often sits on the bima as president. I've grown to love this congregation and all they stand for, so I was predisposed towards liking the book. It is a smooth, yet meaty read. It could serve as a reference book for Jewish holidays but is also thought-provoking in regards to how to live one's life. Highly recommended for both learning and the candid way in which the author writes.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Janine

    A must read for anyone who wants to learn more about the holidays beyond what the usual overview provides. She provides much more informational depth to Purim, Tu B'shevat, and Shemini Atzeret. This book also really enhanced my understanding of the creation story. However, I did feel as if she was getting sloppy and tired towards the end. She missed a lot regarding Shavuot (the book of Ruth, for example) and Tisha B'av and just stopped detailing much of her own experiences (not in the Shavuot ch A must read for anyone who wants to learn more about the holidays beyond what the usual overview provides. She provides much more informational depth to Purim, Tu B'shevat, and Shemini Atzeret. This book also really enhanced my understanding of the creation story. However, I did feel as if she was getting sloppy and tired towards the end. She missed a lot regarding Shavuot (the book of Ruth, for example) and Tisha B'av and just stopped detailing much of her own experiences (not in the Shavuot chapter but afterwards).

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elise

    Throughout our lives, we take different paths. We seek new adventures. We struggle through different times and quests. It is our way of understanding who we are, and where we come from. This is the story of one such journey. My Jewish Year is the tale of Abigail Pogrebin’s search for a deeper understanding of her own Jewish soul. Read the rest of my review here: https://journalingonpaper.com/2017/02... Throughout our lives, we take different paths. We seek new adventures. We struggle through different times and quests. It is our way of understanding who we are, and where we come from. This is the story of one such journey. My Jewish Year is the tale of Abigail Pogrebin’s search for a deeper understanding of her own Jewish soul. Read the rest of my review here: https://journalingonpaper.com/2017/02...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Misty Lambeth

    First I would like to thank Goodreads for a free copy of this book, it was an interesting read. I am not a religious person but love to explore different religions so it was great detailed book for me to get an idea of the Jewish holidays. I found it written well and sounds well researched. Good for the author to get so deep into each of the 18 holidays!

  19. 4 out of 5

    David Squires

    A fine survey of the Jewish calendar seen through the eyes of its holidays. I read this book as an e-book on my phone (hoopla app connected to my local library). It was an easy read and is written in the style of a memoir with many personal notes about her year of learning.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    A delightful exploration of the Jewish year that made me want to fast on more days, and bring more Jewish enthusiasm to everyday Judaism. Thank you Abigail Pogrebin - see you Monday night, September 25, in Buffalo!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sara Goldenberg

    The author lives an entire year of true Jewish experiences but doesn't go to Chabad. Her family is minimally involved which of course colors the story. The author lives an entire year of true Jewish experiences but doesn't go to Chabad. Her family is minimally involved which of course colors the story.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Shiffman

    A wonderful book that I am recommending to family and friends

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Even as someone who went to Hebrew school K-12, I still learned a lot from this book. I appreciated Pogrebin's honesty regarding some of the challenges of observance and difficulty to relating to some of the holidays in modern times. I especially loved the quotes from the Rabbis about each holiday, and the wide variety of perspectives Pogrebin provided. At many times I felt reminded of the many joys of the Jewish experience and was moved by Pogrebin's personal experiences as she related to each Even as someone who went to Hebrew school K-12, I still learned a lot from this book. I appreciated Pogrebin's honesty regarding some of the challenges of observance and difficulty to relating to some of the holidays in modern times. I especially loved the quotes from the Rabbis about each holiday, and the wide variety of perspectives Pogrebin provided. At many times I felt reminded of the many joys of the Jewish experience and was moved by Pogrebin's personal experiences as she related to each holiday. However, I also really struggled with Pogrebin's tendency to name-drop and brag about her many "good friends" in pretty high places in the institutions she visited on her Jewish year journey. I had to take long breaks from this book, especially after what felt to me to be an especially botched chapter on Passover. As a seemingly very privileged and connected Jewish person, living in a Jewish hub, her year looks very, very different than mine would if I attempted such an experience. I also eventually got sick of the constant gamification of holidays she described in her household. Maybe it's my own insecurity, or maybe it's frustration with the increasing expectations on moms to constantly provide these kinds of activities and engagement. It wasn't for me, but I think other parents looking to entertain older kids during holidays may really appreciate her suggestions. Overall, I think there's a lot to like about this book! I ended up reading slowly out of frustration, but then also enjoyed reading about holidays as I was observing them in real time. Beneath the name-dropping and Pinterest Mom-y-ness, there's a genuine desire to explore and find a deeper appreciation for our varied Jewish calendar.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Laja

    I skipped a few holidays (such a metaphor for real life) but I got the gist. I liked the confirmation that Shabbat is left to your interpretation and you can celebrate it however you choose. Jewish study can be say, reading this book. Make your own rules and take from the holidays whatever message you need. Also, the feminist seder sounded awesome and is something I would like to participate in once we're able to gather again. I skipped a few holidays (such a metaphor for real life) but I got the gist. I liked the confirmation that Shabbat is left to your interpretation and you can celebrate it however you choose. Jewish study can be say, reading this book. Make your own rules and take from the holidays whatever message you need. Also, the feminist seder sounded awesome and is something I would like to participate in once we're able to gather again.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Artslyz

    I really enjoyed this deep dive into Jewish holidays - especially her observations on history, ritual and memory.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    In terms of mindful goals for myself, I kinda feel like I should make a resolution about taking notes in books. There's so much here to ruminate upon! I could remind myself that much like the Jewish year this book lends to re-reading, but I also have to pull out my favorite, worn hashtag--#somuchtoread! Pogrebin's Jewish background was already more observant than I originally thought (and much more observant than mine) but I was already familiar with some things with which she wasn't! :P I knew a In terms of mindful goals for myself, I kinda feel like I should make a resolution about taking notes in books. There's so much here to ruminate upon! I could remind myself that much like the Jewish year this book lends to re-reading, but I also have to pull out my favorite, worn hashtag--#somuchtoread! Pogrebin's Jewish background was already more observant than I originally thought (and much more observant than mine) but I was already familiar with some things with which she wasn't! :P I knew about the focus on death on Yom Kippur, and I've been grappling with the violence depicted in the Chanukah and Purim stories. It was full of holidays I knew decently well (I enjoyed singing along with the liturgy that she included in her High Holidays chapters) and others not so much. But she drove home a more cohesive point that the Jewish year is about memory, about calls to action, about reminders of fragility and more. It's a very American--and more to the point New York (though now I want to spend every Sukkot in SoCal)--centric book, but then again, this is a memoir. Pogrebin often reached out to rabbis and other scholars who she already knew, and attended services and events pretty close to home. They ran a little bit of a gamut in terms of denomination, but as Pogrebin is progressive her journey is ultimately pretty progressive. She imbued our progressive faith with a lot of meaning, and with unquestionable ties to the past. Each holiday we got to see Pogrebin grapple with the big political issues of the day, and also the life cycle stuff, tragic and mirthful, of her personal existence. I empathized with her frustration with fasts and occasionally forcing a strained spiritual connection to things, but I was fascinated by the push and pull of the holidays--happy followed by sad and vice versa. Reminders that both are very present. I feel vindicated in constantly coming back to this line from "Hamlet" in my own life--"with mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage." Hamlet may be criticizing his mother's behavior, but on the broad canvas of Judaism, these contradictions are just truisms. That, and a whole bunch of memory-carrying. I enjoyed how she started each chapter with a large-themes quote from a rabbi about each holiday and fast (and on a production note, Fig Tree Books used such pretty borders!) I appreciated how she incorporated Yom HaShoah and the big Israeli days of celebration and mourning into the broader narrative. I'm glad that she ended with Shabbat, and included three chapters of growth concerning Judaism's most common and most important holiday. I feel encouraged (and perhaps a little shamed when it comes to my hiding from eating significant maror) to reclaiming Passover as my family tradition--unlike many born Jews, I'm mostly doing this journey alone. I want to find a sukkah to sit in for Sukkot and a multi-pronged study session for Shavuot--these three, the desert holidays, are really speaking to me. Rosh Hashanah remains my favorite holiday, and Pogrebin's book serves as a reminder to keep engaging with it. I speak with a bias, but for anyone interested in journeys of faith, spirituality and grappling with/learning about ritual, this is a readable and engaging book told from one woman's experience.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    (Actual Rating = 3.75 stars) Abigail Pogrebin felt disconnected from her Jewish roots. She decided to remedy that by celebrating 18 Jewish holidays over the course of a year, then writing about it. I enjoyed this book. Even though I feel relatively connected to Judaism (although I could definitely be more connected), it was refreshing to read Pogrebin's perspectives on celebrating holidays she wasn't even aware existed. There were times that I didn't connect with the book, though. I wouldn't have (Actual Rating = 3.75 stars) Abigail Pogrebin felt disconnected from her Jewish roots. She decided to remedy that by celebrating 18 Jewish holidays over the course of a year, then writing about it. I enjoyed this book. Even though I feel relatively connected to Judaism (although I could definitely be more connected), it was refreshing to read Pogrebin's perspectives on celebrating holidays she wasn't even aware existed. There were times that I didn't connect with the book, though. I wouldn't have referred to Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, a well-known Talmud scholar, as the "Beyonce" of the Jewish world. I also would have included a celebration of Rosh Chodesh, which happens 12 times a year.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anna Livingston

    It's going to take a while for me to sort out my feelings about this one. My tl,dr; review of this is that you should go read it if you have any interest at all in Jewish spirituality; it's an excellent introduction to the rhythm of the Jewish calendar and the meanings and rituals associated with each holiday, even minor fast days many of us less religious Jews (myself included) aren't necessarily familiar with. The longer version of this review is that I have enormously conflicted and frustrated It's going to take a while for me to sort out my feelings about this one. My tl,dr; review of this is that you should go read it if you have any interest at all in Jewish spirituality; it's an excellent introduction to the rhythm of the Jewish calendar and the meanings and rituals associated with each holiday, even minor fast days many of us less religious Jews (myself included) aren't necessarily familiar with. The longer version of this review is that I have enormously conflicted and frustrated feelings about the book -- not because of Pogrebin's writing or her topic, but because it exposes my personal ambivalence about organized religion, even my own one. Pogrebin's experience of Judaism as a religion steeped in self-examination, questioning, and a commitment to justice at a personal and public level matches my own. Her year spent observing every holiday made me question how my life might be different if I believed in God, if I were comfortable being part of a congregation, or if I were willing to throw myself into even a few more aspects of religious life, even if it were simply observing Shabbat now and then, or returning to fasting on Yom Kippur. But she also covers two of the aspects of Judaism that have troubled me for a while: the continued sexism and misogyny of Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox sects who wouldn't even consider me a proper Jew, and the lightning rod that is discussion of Israel and its policies towards settlements and the Palestinians. (FWIW, I am pro the idea of a Jewish nation, but very much against Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people. At the same time, left-wing anti-Semitism is on the rise, and I have no patience for that when it strays into this discussion, as it does far too often.) Thus it's impossible for me to absorb this book without also contemplating where I might fit into contemporary Jewish practice, and the answer so far continues to be "no more than I already do." I don't see that changing anytime soon, even if I went to the trouble of tracking down a Humanist congregation near me. (I know there's at least one.) It did, however, make me want to be a little more mindful of observing the holidays, even if all I do is spend part of the day considering the meaning and purpose behind the holiday and its rituals. I'm glad I read this before Rosh Hashanah. There's no time like a new year to make a change.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Wegrzyniak

    The first half or so of this book merited a five-star review easily. Pogrebin pursued her topic with a novel methodology of trying first and judging later, an approach that is refreshing with more and more Jews writing off observance without understanding it. The interviews with a wide array of religious leadership from the various ideological branches of Judaism were enlightening. Pogrebin's honesty and openness was admirable and her writing engaging. About halfway through the book the perspect The first half or so of this book merited a five-star review easily. Pogrebin pursued her topic with a novel methodology of trying first and judging later, an approach that is refreshing with more and more Jews writing off observance without understanding it. The interviews with a wide array of religious leadership from the various ideological branches of Judaism were enlightening. Pogrebin's honesty and openness was admirable and her writing engaging. About halfway through the book the perspective seemed to shift. It was as if the author felt she had a sufficient experiential platform to toss out the originally open perspective for one that was less open toward those who did not share her religious orientation (Pogrebin belongs to a major reform congregation). Each holiday from midway on comes with a critique of how ignorant the orthodox are without similar critical analysis of non or less religious perspectives. It came across as preachy and ignorant in its own right, even with my limited knowledge of orthodox interpretations of various teachings and holidays. This was a big let down for me as I could not put the book down for the first half; I thought Pogrebin's project was pursued in an incredible way in its initial stages. It is unfortunate that she dropped the open approach for a closed one halfway through the year. If you (as I am sure the vast majority of potential readers do) share the typical liberal Jewish views of Pogrebin then you should enjoy this book thoroughly the whole way through.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I'm always fascinated by the dynamic at play between participating in the rituals that make a person part of a group and the self-reflection it takes for a person to determine how he or she relates to that group as an individual. I appreciated the insight Pogrebin gives into her thought process as she explores what aspects of Judaism and which Jewish people she identifies with. I don't know that that exploration lends itself to a book, though, at least not one for somebody, like me, who tends to I'm always fascinated by the dynamic at play between participating in the rituals that make a person part of a group and the self-reflection it takes for a person to determine how he or she relates to that group as an individual. I appreciated the insight Pogrebin gives into her thought process as she explores what aspects of Judaism and which Jewish people she identifies with. I don't know that that exploration lends itself to a book, though, at least not one for somebody, like me, who tends to finish books quickly to avoid the indignity of library overdue fines. Many of the holidays Pogrebin describes are about inner and outer reflection, and I think an article series like the one that Pogrebin adapted this book from lends itself better to readers' being able to reflect in turn on the rituals Pogrebin and the people she quotes describe. However, I got the sense from Pogrebin and others that the point of holidays and rituals is to reflect periodically, and so perhaps it's a good thing to walk away from a book with the sense that I have to read much, much more before I can begin to understand Jewish tradition. If nothing else, Pogrebin made me want to look up whether there are any feminist seders planned within driving distance of me next year.

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