Here All Along
Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life--in Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There)
A renowned political speechwriter rediscovers Judaism, finding timeless wisdom and spiritual connection in its age-old practices and traditions.
“Sarah Hurwitz was Michelle Obama’s head speechwriter, and with this book she becomes Judaism’s speechwriter.”—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take, Originals, and co-author of Option B
After a decade as a political speechwriter—serving as head speechwriter for First Lady Michelle Obama, a senior speechwriter for President Barack Obama, and chief speechwriter for Hillary Clinton on her 2008 presidential campaign—Sarah Hurwitz decided to apply her skills as a communicator to writing a book . . . about Judaism. And no one is more surprised than she is.
Hurwitz was the quintessential lapsed Jew—until, at age thirty-six, after a tough breakup, she happened upon an advertisement for an introductory class on Judaism. She attended on a whim, but was blown away by what she found: beautiful rituals, helpful guidance on living an ethical life, conceptions of God beyond the judgy bearded man in the sky—none of which she had learned in Hebrew school or during the two synagogue services she grudgingly attended each year. That class led to a years-long journey during which Hurwitz visited the offices of rabbis, attended Jewish meditation retreats, sat at the Shabbat tables of Orthodox families, and read hundreds of books about Judaism—all in dogged pursuit of answers to her biggest questions. What she found transformed her life, and she wondered: How could there be such a gap between the richness of what Judaism offers and the way so many Jews like her understand and experience it?
Sarah Hurwitz is on a mission to close this gap by sharing the profound insights she discovered on everything from Jewish holidays, ethics, and prayer to Jewish conceptions of God, death, and social justice. In this entertaining and accessible book, she shows us why Judaism matters and how its message is more relevant than ever, and she inspires Jews to do the learning, questioning, and debating required to make this religion their own.
“Searching for meaning in the ancient scripture and traditions of Judaism, Sarah Hurwitz takes us along on an enriching journey of discovery. In Here All Along, she explores her birthright as a Jew and finds timeless and valuable life lessons.”—David Axelrod, director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and former senior advisor to President Barack Obama
Hurwitz, a former speechwriter for Michelle Obama, debuts with an entertaining account of how she reengaged with Judaism during her adult life. Raised Jewish, Hurwitz lost her interest in faith during high school. But, at age 36, after dealing with a bad breakup and the stress of work, she began to rediscover Judaism's allure, diving into the Torah and exploring different traditional practices. Hurwitz portrays Judaism as open to questioning and she recounts her own challenges with believing in God or an afterlife, as well as her struggle to make time for practices such as Sabbath observance. She also explains the traditions of Jewish sects through profiles of well-known rabbis (including an excellent reading of the poetry of Rabbi Menache Mendel of Kotzk). Though her primary audience is "lapsed Jews" like herself who are seeking to reestablish a connection to Jewish traditions, non-Jewish readers will also benefit from the wealth of wisdom Hurwitz provides: "I prefer to appreciate the transcendent and elevate it by calling it God rather than degrade it by defining it by its component parts or scientific basis." Part memoir, part spiritual meditation, Hurwitz's look into her Jewish roots will please any reader interested in the overlap of secular life and spiritual calling.