**SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: NEW BOOK!**
My amazing co-editor
Sarah Tuttle-Singerand I are so proud to have shared this creative project with 107 contributors from around the world!
You can find the paperback here: amazon.com/dp/B08L9S68T4.
The Kindle version is here: amazon.com/dp/B08LDYZNKP.
Amidst so much that is wrong, this timely spark of light (the second volume of collective testimony in the When We Turned Within series) is so very right. In addition to bringing together reflections, poems and prayers created over the past few months, proceeds from the sale of this book will support
UJA-Federation of New York’s COVID-19 relief work. The first volume raised over $1,000 to support this holy work, and we’re hopeful proceeds from this new collection will also bring strength to many in need.
For a wonderful article in the LA Jewish Journal covering the first volume, click here: https://tinyurl.com/wwtwLAJJ.
Karen Byer Silberman, one of the 107 contributors to both collections, once again shared her beautiful original artwork for our cover. Our deep gratitude to Karen for her gifts.
Below, I’ve included my introduction to the book, where I hope you will feel the gratitude I have for you all sharing so freely from your souls.
The complete Table of Contents is available here: https://tinyurl.com/wwtw2toc
The complete list of contributors is available here: https://tinyurl.com/wwtw2contributors
May you and yours be blessed with health, safety, dignity, and peace.
The souls on these pages represent so much lived experience. Too much, perhaps. This book certainly is a heavy one, as it contains emotional truths beyond measure expressed during a time beyond compare.
What will you discover on these pages? Here you will find parents and teachers and nurses and poets. Here you will find cantors and rabbis and journalists and bakers. And grandparents. And children. We all share the same struggling world and unfathomable moment.
More than that: We attempted to translate our unreal reality into words.
Yet how can any of us, even the passionate outpouring that fills these pages (joined by those of the first volume of When We Turned Within) presume to bear adequate testimony to 40 million human beings infected and 1.1 million deaths from COVID-19 (as of the date of this book’s publication)? We simply cannot. As the great Rabbi Alan Lew framed the journey of the months this book details, “this is real and you are completely unprepared.”
It would be the height of blasphemy to present even these diverse and poetic offerings as sufficient. They are not. They could never be. But they are our best attempt to honor the memories of those we’ve lost and our written commitments to be agents for change, for hope, for healing.
Perhaps this collection is even simpler than that. Perhaps we are, as a collective expression spanning the globe, simply offering that most biblical of vows: Hinenu: We are here.
Somehow, in the midst of ravaging pandemic and brutal politics, as the West Coast of the United States burned and the Gulf Coast drowned, as hate scorched our souls and loneliness threatened our hearts, we did not give up. As the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay once put it, we did not become “…resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.”
Friends, during these trying days we did not become silent. We wrote, and we marched, and we prayed, and we sang. And we loved. And then we loved some more. Tearful eyes still open to wonder, gritted teeth defying despair, we loved.
Friends, hands on hearts, let us all shout: Hinenu. We are here. And we’re so glad you are too.
May this book be a source of comfort and strength and healing and love.
May we reclaim the headlines with the shocking good we'll do.
May it be said of us by generations to come that we did better than survived: we cared deeply for ourselves, for each other, and for our fragile world.
May the decisions we make during these days make our descendants proud.
Torah When We Turned Within: Reflections on COVID-19, Volume 2
edited by Rabbi Menachem Creditor and Sarah Tuttle-Singer