One Book, One Rodfei Zedek

May 11 Heschel discussion part 3
March 30 Heschel discussion part 2
January 19 Heschel discussion
November 11 Joy Ladin discussion  

One Book, One Rodfei Zedek is meant to stimulate conversations, both formal and informal.

Your votes led to a tie  this year, so we'll be doing two books!
We'll start with Joy Ladin's Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders. Please read this short, accessible book in its entirety this month, and we'll get together for a discussion November 11.
On January 19 during the Retreat in the City we'll discuss Section One (which chapters 1-16) of Abraham Joshua Heschel's God in Search of Man. Then, we'll conclude with a session in which we read the poems by both Ladin and Heschel. Copies of Ladin's book will be available for you to purchase at the Seminary Coop Bookstore and 57th Street Books right here in Hyde Park. Happy reading!

Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man:  A Philosophy of Judaism  (1955)

"Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid...  Religion is, indeed, little more than a desiccated remnant of a once living reality when reduced to terms and definitions, to codes and catechisms.  It can only be studied in its natural habitat of faith and piety, in a soul where the divine is within reach of all thoughts."

Scholar, activist, teacher, and theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel was one of the greatest Jewish thinkers of the 20th century.  In what is considered to be one of his most important works, he unpacks the nature of the relationship between God and humanity, and how each Jew is called to respond in the light of that relationship.  The book interprets concepts such as covenant and revelation in ways both deeply rooted in Jewish text and tradition, and compellingly situated in contemporary crises of faith and action.

Joy Ladin, Through the Door of Life:  A Jewish Journey Between Genders  (2012)

 "And because I am once again at that awkward age, when every discovery breeds a new insecurity, a new challenge, a new possibility of failure, I feel dwarfed among these grownup souls for whom loving and giving are as inevitable as breathing…every day, when I take the medication that is making this possible, I say the blessing that registers the wonder and privilege of being, the awe and responsibility of becoming: Baruch ata Adoshem, Elokeinu melech ha‑olam, shehechiyanu, v'kiyemanu, v'higgeyanu la‑zman ha‑zeh." 

When Professor Jay Ladin returned to Yeshiva University as Joy Ladin, it touched off a legal crisis that made headlines.  Behind the news stories was Ladin's long, often excruciating journey to reconcile self, faith, and family, so that she might become herself without losing the people and God dear to her.  This memoir vividly recounts the pain that brought her to the brink of suicide as she lived in a body that felt wrong to her, the grief and anger her children felt at losing the father they had known, and the agony and hope she experienced as she wrestled with guilt, shame, and love.

Looking back…

  • 5776:  The first year’s read was Family Properties:  How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America by Beryl Satter.  The series of events inspired by the book culminated in a visit with the author.  At that event, we discussed the book’s exploration of segregation and housing discrimination in postwar Chicago and how the Jewish and African-American communities in the city were affected by the events and trends that unfolded.
  • 5777:  Second Person, Singular by Sayed Kashua.  Once again, after a series of discussions throughout the year, we had the opportunity to meet with the author to hear about his experience as an Arab Israeli living in Jerusalem and later in the United States, along with insights into his characters and other projects.
  • 5778:  Ariel Sabar’s My Father’s Paradise:  A Son's Search for His Family's Past, a thoughtful journey into his father’s past in Kurdish Iraq and his journey to the U.S. as an Aramaic language scholar.

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