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My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew
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My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  508 ratings  ·  92 reviews
Although she grew up following some holiday rituals, Pogrebin realized how little she knew about their foundational purpose and contemporary relevance; she wanted to understand what had kept these holidays alive and vibrant, some for thousands of years. Her curiosity led her to embark on an entire year of intensive research, observation, and writing about the milestones on ...more
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published March 14th 2017 by Fig Tree Books
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Elisabeth Sherry, my great grandmother was Bathsheba Pogrebiski. She lived in Skvira, Russia. She died there before her surviving children (including my grandmo…moreSherry, my great grandmother was Bathsheba Pogrebiski. She lived in Skvira, Russia. She died there before her surviving children (including my grandmother) came to the US via a ship to Ellis Island. I have not been able to find any records about this part of our family. I do wonder if we are related.(less)

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(4.5) Like many an American Jew, Abigail Pogrebin was used to marking a limited number of holidays: Hanukkah, the Passover seder, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the occasional Sabbath dinner. Her mother, who co-founded Ms. magazine with Gloria Steinem, also inducted her and her twin sister into a special feminist seder. Pogrebin circumcised her son, and watched him and her daughter celebrate their bar and bat mitzvah. Yet she had the nagging feeling that she had never genuinely locked into her o ...more
Erika Dreifus
Delighted to be part of the team at Fig Tree Books that will be bringing this book to readers early next year.
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received a free copy of My Jewish Year 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew by Abigail Pogrebin in exchange for an honest review. The concept of this book intrigued me from the onset. In the introduction, the reader learns of Ms. Pogrebin's upbringing. It reminded me of my own. Her family observed the major Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover and some Shabbat dinners which included lighting shabbat candles "when convenient" (in her own words). Her neighborhood and friends were m ...more
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Before I get started, a standard disclosure: I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway, and I am friends with one of the editors at Fig Tree Books who worked on this memoir.

At the beginning of her book about choosing to observe the Jewish holidays more intently than she ever had before, Abigail Pogrebin humorously lists the reactions of her non-Jewish friends, non-observant Jewish friends, and observant Jewish friends when she tells them about her plan. I think
Jul 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: judaism
I am partial about this book, and here is why:

It was super informative for me on the history of various jewish holidays, the origins of the various customs associated with them, gave different perspectives from different rabbis and known people in the field. As my starting point was pretty much zero knowledge on the origins of these holidays, I feel like I did learn a lot.

It was just very hard for me to get past the so privileged, upper class New Yorker Jew life that the author
Lauren Barlis
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
As the non-Jewish spouse of a Jewish man, raising Jewish kids, I learned so much from this book!
Apr 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Abigail Pogrebin grew up in a Jewish home. Her family celebrated Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, two Passover Seders, and occasional Friday Shabbats. In 2014, she decided she wanted to learn more about her religion and began a one-year mission to learn about the eighteen annual Jewish holidays (including six fast days), when and how they originated, what they are about, and how they are celebrated. During that period, she visited a synagogue (sometime more than one) on every religious holi ...more
I think it's a nice tribute to this book that so many who have commented here are not connected with the Jewish religion. I am one of those (agnostic, in fact.)

For me, the most interesting and impressive aspect of the entire book was the variety of ways that the Jewish holidays approach religious feeling: joy, repentance, uncertainty about the future, social responsibility... and cheesecake. (The light sense of humor mostly appealed to me as well.)

The author approached her subject wisely, direc
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I assumed this was "just" a holiday primer and wasn't personally interested in reading it even though I admire and respect Abigail Pogrebin's previous books and writing. But after at least three people recommended it to me and said they thought it would be a good pick for the Sisterhood Torah Fund Book Club, I gave in and took it home from the library. I only had to get through Ch.3 "The Fast of Gedaliah" before I ordered myself my own copy and realized that this would be THE PERFECT book to ope ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, jewish
My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew is a commitment to read, but it’s nothing compared to what author, Abigail Pogrebin, went through in order to compile it. Jews have a lot of holidays, many that require weeks or days of preparations, and many that go on for days. Just reading about it all is enough to fatigue, let alone participate in each, as Pogrebin did. And yes, observant Jews do it year after year, but there is something to be said for building up stamina.

That Pogrebin was a p
Aug 21, 2017 rated it did not like it

It purports to be a traversal of the Jewish year by examining the holidays, but instead it is an egocentric study of how to turn Judaism into something that is merely tolerable.

In order truly to learn something, you need to give your ego a backseat. I don't believe that she learned much throughout this year because she was constantly injecting herself and how she felt about it into the procedings, instead of truly understanding what she was studying. Do I need to know that her synagogue r
Patricia Stover Hobbs
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
First, I am not jewish. Be that as it may, I wanted to read this to learn more about the jewish people. My parents at one time owned a kosher style deli in Las Vegas Nevada so I did not go into this completely blind to the faith/religion.

I loved reading this book. It was funny, informative, interesting and made me think I could be her friend. This is not always true with all authors. Of course I am of an age where I read Erma Bombeck and laughed out loud in public no less! So, I recommend this t
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received my copy of this book thru the Goodreads Giveaway program. I don't know why the Jewish religion is so facinating to me - I was born and raised a Methodist, and more recently, have celebrated worship in a Lutheran church, but, perhaps it is the ritual, the ties to the past, the present and the future, that draw me in so strongly. Abigail Pogrebin is a gifted writer, and her exploration of the major AND minor Jewish holidays, and the reason behind them, is both enlightening and entertain ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thanks Goodreads for allowing me the opportunity to win this book. My Jewish Year is a very well-written and well-researched book of what I'd call finding your past. I can't imagine myself that dedicated to finding out in such depth the 18 Jewish holidays. I'd confirm the front page "one Wondering Jew" statement. I consider myself someone who loves to find out facts and get down to the nitty, gritty of things, but would never find myself that dedicated to doing what Abiail Pogrebin has done in t ...more
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed Pogrebin's Jewish Year. The tone of the book is just exactly right; not preachy, but humble, not serious, but often humorous, not unduly wise, but wondering, and with a willingness on the author's part to generously share throughout.

I came to this book because I am an online attendant of services at Central Synagogue where Pogrebin often sits on the bima as president. I've grown to love this congregation and all they stand for, so I was predisposed towards liking the book. I
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: judaism
A must read for anyone who wants to learn more about the holidays beyond what the usual overview provides. She provides much more informational depth to Purim, Tu B'shevat, and Shemini Atzeret. This book also really enhanced my understanding of the creation story.

However, I did feel as if she was getting sloppy and tired towards the end. She missed a lot regarding Shavuot (the book of Ruth, for example) and Tisha B'av and just stopped detailing much of her own experiences (not in the Shavuot ch
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Throughout our lives, we take different paths. We seek new adventures. We struggle through different times and quests. It is our way of understanding who we are, and where we come from. This is the story of one such journey. My Jewish Year is the tale of Abigail Pogrebin’s search for a deeper understanding of her own Jewish soul.
Read the rest of my review here:
Misty Lambeth
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
First I would like to thank Goodreads for a free copy of this book, it was an interesting read. I am not a religious person but love to explore different religions so it was great detailed book for me to get an idea of the Jewish holidays. I found it written well and sounds well researched.

Good for the author to get so deep into each of the 18 holidays!
David Squires
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fine survey of the Jewish calendar seen through the eyes of its holidays. I read this book as an e-book on my phone (hoopla app connected to my local library). It was an easy read and is written in the style of a memoir with many personal notes about her year of learning.

Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
A delightful exploration of the Jewish year that made me want to fast on more days, and bring more Jewish enthusiasm to everyday Judaism. Thank you Abigail Pogrebin - see you Monday night, September 25, in Buffalo!
Sara Goldenberg
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The author lives an entire year of true Jewish experiences but doesn't go to Chabad. Her family is minimally involved which of course colors the story.

Stuart Shiffman
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book that I am recommending to family and friends
May 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Even as someone who went to Hebrew school K-12, I still learned a lot from this book. I appreciated Pogrebin's honesty regarding some of the challenges of observance and difficulty to relating to some of the holidays in modern times. I especially loved the quotes from the Rabbis about each holiday, and the wide variety of perspectives Pogrebin provided. At many times I felt reminded of the many joys of the Jewish experience and was moved by Pogrebin's personal experiences as she related to each ...more
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I skipped a few holidays (such a metaphor for real life) but I got the gist. I liked the confirmation that Shabbat is left to your interpretation and you can celebrate it however you choose. Jewish study can be say, reading this book. Make your own rules and take from the holidays whatever message you need. Also, the feminist seder sounded awesome and is something I would like to participate in once we're able to gather again. ...more
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this deep dive into Jewish holidays - especially her observations on history, ritual and memory.
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
In terms of mindful goals for myself, I kinda feel like I should make a resolution about taking notes in books. There's so much here to ruminate upon! I could remind myself that much like the Jewish year this book lends to re-reading, but I also have to pull out my favorite, worn hashtag--#somuchtoread!

Pogrebin's Jewish background was already more observant than I originally thought (and much more observant than mine) but I was already familiar with some things with which she wasn't! :P I knew a
(Actual Rating = 3.75 stars)

Abigail Pogrebin felt disconnected from her Jewish roots. She decided to remedy that by celebrating 18 Jewish holidays over the course of a year, then writing about it.

I enjoyed this book. Even though I feel relatively connected to Judaism (although I could definitely be more connected), it was refreshing to read Pogrebin's perspectives on celebrating holidays she wasn't even aware existed. There were times that I didn't connect with the book, though. I wouldn't have
Anna Livingston
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's going to take a while for me to sort out my feelings about this one. My tl,dr; review of this is that you should go read it if you have any interest at all in Jewish spirituality; it's an excellent introduction to the rhythm of the Jewish calendar and the meanings and rituals associated with each holiday, even minor fast days many of us less religious Jews (myself included) aren't necessarily familiar with.

The longer version of this review is that I have enormously conflicted and frustrated
Chelsea Wegrzyniak
May 08, 2017 rated it liked it
The first half or so of this book merited a five-star review easily. Pogrebin pursued her topic with a novel methodology of trying first and judging later, an approach that is refreshing with more and more Jews writing off observance without understanding it. The interviews with a wide array of religious leadership from the various ideological branches of Judaism were enlightening. Pogrebin's honesty and openness was admirable and her writing engaging. About halfway through the book the perspect ...more
Jul 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm always fascinated by the dynamic at play between participating in the rituals that make a person part of a group and the self-reflection it takes for a person to determine how he or she relates to that group as an individual. I appreciated the insight Pogrebin gives into her thought process as she explores what aspects of Judaism and which Jewish people she identifies with. I don't know that that exploration lends itself to a book, though, at least not one for somebody, like me, who tends to ...more
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Jewish Book Club: My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew 11 28 Sep 17, 2019 09:22PM  

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