Roberta Rosenthal Kwall is brimming with the joy of Judaism, and wants you to be, too -- on your own terms. Her new book, Remix Judaism: Preserving Tradition in a Diverse World, is a celebration of Jewish life and culture, chock full of practical advice about tapping into Jewish traditions and values to enrich our lives and relationships.
Kwall teaches at DePaul University College of Law and is the Founding Director of their Center for Intellectual Property Law & Information Technology. This is her first book aimed at a general audience; she says she wrote it with readers like her adult daughters in mind: people who love being Jewish and want help bringing Jewish content into their lives.
Her love and enthusiasm for helping readers on this journey shines through on every page. "What I'm advocating is finding ways to incorporate more (Jewish) observances in ways that work for you, doing it consistently and imbuing it with meanings that work for you," she said.
Take Shabbat. Remix Judaism approaches it from a creative angle, bringing in Jewish texts, popular Israeli songs, research from psychology -- even ancient Greek thought -- to present the weekly holiday in a delightfully new and fresh way.
Remix Judaism tackles some of the most vexing issues facing contemporary Jews. Keeping kosher, belief in God, Jewish education, and mourning rituals are all presented as vehicles for accessing Jewish wisdom and making Jewish tradition accessible to everybody. Each chapter manages to pack a huge amount of information and Jewish insight into fun, thought-provoking discussions that are easy to read
One of the most beautiful chapters addresses the unique roles grandparents play. Kwall became a grandmother while writing Remix Judaism and in the book, she shares her hopes and fears and those of her contemporaries. "There are so many grandparents struggling with the issue of preserving tradition and passing traditions along," Kwall observes, addressing the "need that some grandparents feel to 'do better' Jewishly with their grandchildren." She provides tools, from hosting Shabbat meals, to carving out time for personal visits and family bonding time.
Whatever your level of Jewish identity and observance, Remix Judaism overflows with fresh, inspirational advice. "I wrote this book because if being Jewish matters to you, it needs to be more than lighting Chanukah candles and having a Passover Seder," Kwall said.
There are realms of wisdom and beauty in Jewish life. This powerful book helps readers tap into that, creating more authentic Jewish experiences in unique ways that work for each of us.
Yvette Alt Miller, Ph.D. lives with her family in the northern suburbs of Chicago.