Rosove, Rabbi John. Why Judaism Matters: Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to His Children and the Millennial Generation. Jewish Lights, 2017. ISBN 978-1683367055 240 pp. $
This collection of beautifully written letters–from a clearly started point of view– covers parables and advice regarding atheism, interfaith marriage, creating a Jewish life and home, developing an ethical will, and an overview of Zionism (and why we should care about Israel). As someone in process of converting, I found it very helpful (and a better selection than my rabbi’s recommendation of Prager’s Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism, which is more conservative and dated, and directed to Christians and converts). The notes at the end are helpful in documenting Rosove’s research and a jumping off point for further study.
My takeaways were that Jewish tradition feeds the mind and nourishes the soul; that listening to one another’s heartache is imperative; godliness is in every soul; our yearning to connect, to belong, to something greater than ourselves= accountability and responsibility for every other living soul; the opposite of peace is truth, not war; the value of creating your home as a sanctuary and the Shabbat as a sanctuary within that; the importance of working hard to retain relationships (something I personally need to improve at); a reminder to make the most of my precious life; to define success as to how I am embodying virtues of wisdom, strength, wealth and respect; choosing optimism (gratitude is a continuing theme in my life!) and how optimism leads to activism; choosing to forgive to let go of encumbrances from the past.
It also provided me with an excellent list of questions to ask my prospective partner about sex, money, power, and family dynamics, expectations, faith, God religion and culture.
I am struggling with all of the details of Israeli/Palestinian conflict. My view is that I should value a Jewish democratic state and that Jews need a place to call their own. Embody peace, justice and compassion; ask questions and be vocal was the advice imparted.
The book concludes with a blessing and a brief dialogue between Rosove’s two sons (whom the letters are addressed to) and how the book changed and moved them.