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This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation
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This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation

4.49  ·  Rating Details  ·  228 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
There are moments in life when one is caught utterly unprepared. Drawing on both his rabbinical training and his scholarship in Buddhism, Lew leads readers on a journey from confusion to clarity, from doubt to belief, as he opens a path to self-discovery that is accessible to readers of all faiths.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 27th 2003 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2003)
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Selena McDevitt
Aug 27, 2009 Selena McDevitt rated it it was amazing
Let me preface this review by saying that I am Christian. Not only am I Christian, but I honestly had no idea about Judaism except what you learn from a historical standpoint.

In saying that, I was astounded by this book, so much so in fact, that I have asked for permission to observe the High Holidays at a local Synagogue. This book spoke so profoundly to me and solidified my own faith, that I simply must experience this at least once. I think that the author certainly achieved his intentions w
Jan 16, 2015 Evan rated it it was amazing
Jews always look at me funny when I say the high holidays are my favorite of all Jewish rituals. To be honest, it has something to do with the fact that it always falls around my birthday when my thoughts naturally turn again to the fact that I continue to survive my long dead twin sister, whose life recedes further and further into the past with each passing year.

This book explains why the high holidays are, or should be an incredible time of reckoning. It probably took a rabbi steeped in Budd
Jun 29, 2014 Amy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

Reading this book is helpful for Jewish practice during the time between Tisha B'Av and Sukkot. However, anyone Jewish or not could benefit from reading it any other time too. I read it last year during that time and now again this year.

from p. 18 - chapter one - The Soul Stretches Out to Contain Itself - A Map of the Journey -

"So this concatenation of ritual -- this dance that begins on Tisha B'Av and ends on Sukkot, that begins with the mournful collapse of a house and ends with the joyful co
Nikki Morse
Aug 26, 2013 Nikki Morse rated it it was amazing
Shelves: personal-growth
What a wonderful book. As a prickly, non-Hebrew-reading or speaking, atheist, sentimental Jew, it's often difficult for me to find texts about Jewish ritual and practice that speak to me. This fits that bill, and I think it has so much to offer anyone who is thinking through personal transformation, spiritual meaning, honest self-judgment, and how to be honest with yourself. It discusses the High Holidays in detail, from Tisha B'Av through Sukkot, offering traditional readings of each and reinte ...more
Sep 28, 2015 Naomi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This book floored me. It is rich, compelling, and astounding in its purity. The late Rabbi Lew addresses the beautiful transformation and soul searching ritual that takes place each year during the Jewish holidays of Tisha B'Av and Sukkot. He writes that we are constantly redefining ourselves, that we must become conscious of our blunders, and that the healing and repentance that we undergo at this time of year can heal us. Inner healing requires self-acceptance, forgiveness, and a willingn ...more
Andrew Ordover
Sep 26, 2012 Andrew Ordover rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, bracing, poetic, loveing, and ruthlss look at the high holy days in Judaism and the ways in which they invite us to confront what are making of our lives and our world.

It's that time of year again. Time to re-read...
Oct 07, 2014 Kathe rated it it was amazing
There are very few books that really change the way you look at things: this is one of them. The combination of Jewish sources and Alan Lew's personal stories, with a little Buddhism on the side, made my holiday season so much more meaningful. It will also make my life more meaningful, as he delves into the differences between happiness and joy, how to embrace suffering as a part of the total human experience, and realizing the beauty of the Jewish calendar as a schedule for improving your life. ...more
Nov 24, 2013 Estee rated it it was amazing
Life changing read. That I read every year.
Kimberly Burnham
Jan 28, 2016 Kimberly Burnham rated it it was amazing
This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation

This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation by Alan Lew (Sep 2003)

pg 14 The Power to Change, Understand Differently. What do you have control over?

"The liturgy, however, makes a very different claim, namely that prayer, righteousness, and Teshuvah will not change what happens to us, rather, they will change us.
Robert Monk
Dec 21, 2010 Robert Monk rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I give it 3 stars for now 'cause I'm only 50 pages in.

I'm finding it a good introduction to contemporary Jewish religious thinking/practice, because of its references and brief discussions of the different holidays and -- as I think -- its way of speaking to the kinds of practices readers are actually experiencing today.

As usual, I also like much of what I learn about the Jewish calendar and the way cycles and time(of year) play into what you're trying to do spiritually at different times.

Some s
Jan 18, 2016 Michelle rated it it was amazing
I just finished rereading this book and will likely reread it again the next time The High Holidays roll around. Lew draws upon both Jewish traditions and Zen Buddhism to trace the soul's journey during the months leading up to and immediately following Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The High Holidays are about returning and renewal, about the journey inward to self and outward to community and G-d.
Emilia P
Nov 24, 2012 Emilia P rated it really liked it
Shelves: real-books, churrrch
This was some straight-up Jewish spiritual writing.
Albeit on the San Francisco Buddhist-influenced side of things, but still, it was a great exploration of the Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur time known as the Days of Awe (how beautiful is that?) and the weeks leading up to it and directly afterwards (Sukkot!) And what they, philosophically, spiritually, personally mean. Birth and death, dudes, and the empty/charged space between. Failures and covering overs. Families, flaws, forgiveness. Stuff lik
Oct 26, 2012 Rivka rated it it was amazing
I don't know where to start with this and not end with my entire relationship to God and Judasism. While there were some parts raised all my internal traffic spikes (any intellect I have is always walking around with a tire iron looking to fuck things up), I just kept reading. AND OH MAN. Alan Lew. I don't trust anyone who claims spiritual perfection so what a great relief it was to see imperfection (the humanity, really) embraced by this guy. It was just really nice to read Lew's real talk abou ...more
Oct 12, 2014 Rachel rated it it was amazing
This book was a fabulous literary companion to my High Holiday season this year. From Tisha B'Av through Sukkot, Lew asks questions and poses answers that really get at the heart of what this season is supposed to be all about. I'll be rereading it next year!
Susan Kaplan
Nov 23, 2013 Susan Kaplan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, judasim
The late Rabbi Alan Lew, who I once had the pleasure of meeting, wrote this book as an entrance into the Jewish High Holy Days. The Hebrew calendar month of Elul precedes the month of the High Holy Days, and is a time of reflection and looking inward as Jews prepare to reconcile the many ways in which they missed the mark or lost sight of God in the past year. I often read it during that month, and I am always reminded to try to live a better life. In many ways, it is a guide to just, moral, and ...more
Mar 01, 2015 Jimmacc rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was given to me by a friend. I make a point of reading it through the holiday season. Great book to open your eyes to possibilities in the holiday cucle
Sep 27, 2015 Audrey rated it really liked it
This was an amazing book. I read it as part of a study group and it is the most illuminating thing that I have read about the period of Teshuvah
Sep 24, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Really wonderful book for pushing hard thinking during the High Holidays.
Jordana Horn Gordon
Sep 30, 2014 Jordana Horn Gordon rated it it was amazing
This book took me so long to read...not because it was long or hard, but because it was magnificent. It was such a wonderful addition to my high holiday experience. I will have to come back to this every year. I could not recommend it more highly for anyone who wants to reinvigorate Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur with meaning.
Sophie Ackoff
Nov 07, 2015 Sophie Ackoff rated it it was amazing
life-changing book
Dec 03, 2015 Emily rated it it was amazing
Rabbi Lew wrote about the Jewish high holidays and the human soul. I don't usually like spiritual books, but this one moved me deeply and I think it's one of the most meaningful books I have ever read. I think it might be difficult to appreciate the intensity of this book if one is not already familiar with the high holidays, but I would highly recommend this book to anyone.
Sep 28, 2015 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend for preparation for the High Holidays, but also anytime you need a spiritual boost - I underlined half the book and plan on dipping back in frequently.
Oct 23, 2008 Mendal rated it it was amazing
This book was an insightful companion to to months of September and October, assisting in reflection during the high holy days. There were some really special explanations of the holidays and thoughts around observance that enhanced my practice.
Sep 21, 2009 Esther rated it it was amazing
Great book to prepare oneself for the high holidays. He really captures the essence of the 10 days in addtion to the spiritual preparation throughout the month of Elul. He has some terrific insights.
Sep 27, 2015 Amy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish, spiritual, re-read
For the fourth year in a row I am reading this to get ready for the jewish High Holy Days.And each time I get more out of it.

Getting ready once again ...

It's that time of year aagain.
Suzan Foley
Dec 16, 2009 Suzan Foley rated it liked it
This is a great book to read for the High Holidays every year. I only read some of the book. I will bite off more next year. It makes me miss Rabbi Lou.
Sep 05, 2010 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An extraordinarily insightful meditation on the Days of Awe. Read it--it will change your deepen and enrich your experience of the High Holy Days.
Kat B.
Sep 23, 2013 Kat B. rated it really liked it
A perfect read for the holiday season. Just good perspectives on how and why we atone and forgive.
J Travis
Sep 20, 2011 J Travis rated it really liked it
Have to do this in stages. It's brilliant, insightful and at times blistering funny.
Mira Perry
Sep 22, 2013 Mira Perry rated it it was amazing
Loved it! Marked my calendar to read it again next year.
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