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Monday, September 9, 2013

Did You Hear the Shofar? -- and Holy Land Moments Devotional, a Book Review

It's important to know where you came from. One can  certainly live a meaningful life without knowing what ground her ancestors planted stakes in, whom they were, what stories they told, or how they filled their days.  Still, knowing these things lends depth and clarity to a life well lived.

Gottlieb, Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur, 1878

Last week the tones of the shofar settled over the Jews of the world ushering in the New Year. Did you hear it? Were you listening for it? Not many days hence, Jews the world over will draw close to G-d in prayer, fasting, and repentance on the holiest day of the Jewish year. There will be Scripture readings, candle lighting, recitation of Psalms, confession of sin and post-fast feasting.  Sound familiar?  Did we think we Christians came up with these things?  Have we forgotten where we came from?  Have we lost sight of the roots of our faith traditions? Do we understand the cultural and historical roots of our scriptures?

Some years ago, a very enthusiastic young Christian Evangelical told me all about the new tradition that had been created in Evangelical circles -- the advent wreath.  She was pretty excited.  I didn't have the heart to tell her that she and her cohorts had simply come into awareness of a Christian tradition that had been around for quite a while -- created a very long time ago by traditional Christians and even embraced for a great many centuries by -- gasp-- Catholics!  Many of us are guilty of losing sight of a treasury of even more ancient traditions from which both borrow and have sprung -- Judaism.

A few weeks ago, a publisher's review copy of The One Year Holy Land Moments Devotional arrived in my mailbox. Its arrival seemed timely, with the Jewish High Holy Days approaching. I was eager to dig into its pages. This is a one year devotional with insights from both a Jewish rabbi and a Christian theologian gifts readers with an understanding of the Jewish historical, cultural, and faith perspectives that underlie the Bible readings it addresses, while simultaneously conveying the unique Christian perspective on them.

It will be well worth the extra little bit of effort required to determine the week of the year in which one begins the book, and to match ones readings to the correct week. In doing so, one opens for oneself a feast of understanding of the richness of the Jewish faith and the gifts that our Jewish older brothers and sisters have bequeathed us.  Let us not forget where we came from, what ground our faith ancestors planted stakes in, whom they were and are, what stories they told and continue to tell, or how they mark and fill their days.  We are inexorably tied to them, we young ones in faith -- and may they be sealed in the Book of Life for a good year this High Holy Day season.

Would you like to learn more about the Jewish High Holy Days?  Click here; you'll be blessed.

Pax Christi dear ones,
I trust this finds you well,

Oh..and hey--in case you answered "no" to my shofar question (first, click the pause button on the music player at the top of the right sidebar of this blog page.)...

This book was a Review Copy sent by the publisher — common practice in the industry. No payment was accepted in exchange for a review or mention, and the reviewer was in no way obligated to review the book favorably.

1 comment:

  1. Oh cool! I was just saying to a friend of mine that I'd learned so much from a Jewish rabbi about the various traditions us Catholics hold so dear (that are modeled on their ancient rites).

    I love stuff like this! New book for the list. Great review, Michelle!


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