THE RABBI’S DAUGHTER – Reva Mann
What fascinating book! I found it to be un-putdownable. It’s a true account by the daughter of a high profile, famous British Rabbi. The book is a raw, honest account of one woman’s see-saw progress from the ordinary to the degraded, to the ultra-orthodox and back to the ordinary. You learn about life as lived by the orthodox Jews – the myriad taboos, rules, restrictions that govern every aspect of life. I was surprised to learn how many converts there are to Orthodoxy. And the book reveals how fundamentalism – bearing any tag or label – verges on the loony, and often, the cruel. A poignant episode which astonished, angered and saddened me: Reva (who is the Rabbi’s daughter) has to WALK to the maternity hospital when her labour pains start because her ultra orthodox husband Simcha, won’t support her, hold her hand, touch her in any way, because she is unclean on account of the blood!! I thought his approach to her was inhuman. To say the least. But his behaviour was in line with his rigid, fundamentalism. With a manic-depressive mother, a father in denial, a retarded sister, a horrible marriage, breast cancer, a druggy lover …. what a life Reva had. And how brave she was to write about it,; perhaps it was cathartic. with the life she’d led, I think she’d need it. I hope she’s happier now.
A YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY – A L Jacobs
A New York City Jewish writer embarks on a twelve month project to live as Biblically as possible. His account is quirky, thought provoking, amusing. He concentrates on the Old Testament (being Jewish) and it’s filled with peculiar ordinances, strict purity laws, dress codes, prayer and festival requirements. It keeps him busy, that’s for sure! He starts off agnostic, and ends up more thoughtful, has learnt how to pray and how to live mindfully. He grows a veritable forest of a beard during his project year, but is quite pleased to shave it off, come the end of his project. Another unusual, true account of a life experiment. And P.S.: his wife deserves a medal for staying the course, and supporting him. I think had I been in her shoes, I would have absented myself on a year’s sabbatical with my own project, well away from The Husband’s antics!