Synopses & Reviews
Finalist, 2006 NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD in the Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice category
Throughout the ages, Jews have connected legends to particular days of the Hebrew calendar. Abrahams birth, the death of Rachel, and the creation of light are all tales that are linked to a specific day and season. The Jewish Book of Days invites readers to experience the connection between sacred story and natures rhythms, through readings designed for each and every day of the year. These daily readings offer an opportunity to live in tune with the wisdom of the past while learning new truths about the times we live in today. Using the tree as its central metaphor, The Jewish Book of Days is divided into eight chapters of approximately forty-five days each. These sections represent the tree's stages of growth—seed, root, shoot, sap, bud, leaf, flower, and fruit—and also echo the natural cadences of each season. Each entry has three components: a biblical quote for the day; a midrash on the biblical quote or a Jewish tradition related to that day; and commentary relating the text to the cycles of the year. The author includes an introduction that analyzes the different months and seasons of the Hebrew calendar and explains the textual sources used throughout. Appendixes provide additional material for leap years, equinoxes, and solstices. A section on seasonal meditations offers a new way to approach the divine every day.
"Every page reveals something new and fascinating in this innovative Jewish calendar that utilizes nature and the universe to mark each day by the holiday, person, characteristic or occurrence that best defines it. Instead of dividing the calendar by months, Hammer guides us through each of eight segments by focusing on seasonal developments and their correlation to the human spirit and experience, interweaving the values of Judaism with the importance of remaining faithful to the natural world. Each day's entry includes a biblical quote, a midrash and an observation highlighting the connection between the text and the months, seasons and cycles of the year. Nearly every Jewish theme is touched upon, providing readers with an excellent overview of Jewish history, life and lore. Hammer expounds nicely upon the day's theme by quoting ancient and medieval Torah luminaries as well as modern-day scholars, but at times, her biblical quotes merely repeat much of what she has already expressed, and the space might have been better used for quoting sources that shed new light. The calendar begins with a well-researched analysis of the myriad elements and divisions of nature, ends with a thorough explanation of solstices and equinoxes, and contains a treasure chest of Jewish gems within." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)