Monday, May 14, 2007

Book Review: Modern Jewish Mom's Guide to Shabbat

Today, the day after Mother's Day, which was the day when my post consisted of a disquisition on being a non-mother, seems--take a breath, this sentence will eventually end--like a good day to write up the book I was sent by Harper Collins. It's called The Modern Jewish Mom's Guide to Shabbat: Connect and Celebrate -- Bring Your Family Together With the Friday Night Meal. We will, for the sake of simplicity and sanity, refer to it henceforth as TMJMGS. The author, Meredith L. Jacobs, is a writer, columnist and the founder of the website,

I asked for this book as part of BlogHer's Virtual Book Tour, and I must confess I'm not quite clear on why I wanted it. Not being a mother and all, you know. There being no family for me to connect with a Friday night meal. But I did want it and when I got it and read it, I was glad. Even more, I'd say that I think that narrow focus of the demographic is probably a misguided publishing ploy, for TMJMGS is really a book for anyone wanting to pay attention to or honor or celebrate the Sabbath, no matter your religion.

She's got chapters on history and tradition and lots of practical information. Basically, she holds your hand and leads you through the process of making Shabbos, celebrating the Sabbath. She tells you how to make a challah, roast a chicken, bless the candles, involve the kids and the husband and whoever else might be wandering through. She does all this with a strong sense of yiddishkeit, a word that means imparting the feeling of Jewishness. Yet she is inclusive of non-Jews and of those of us who are unpracticed in the stuff of our religion.

The push to get Jews back to the Shabbat table is common these days, and Jacobs gives a very good reason why. By honoring the time of the Sabbath in these traditional ways, she says, "we eliminate the distractions that prevent us from connecting with one another, with ourselves, with Shabbat, and with our spirituality." This, then, is the central message of her book--and it seems to me a very worthwhile one.


  1. I love how so many different types of people asked for this book and then LOVED it. That is the sign of a great book!

  2. Denise: I agree. She covered a lot of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual ground. I also agree that the paper was awful, but I thought maybe that was just because it was a review copy.

  3. Adorable Girlfriend5:54 PM

    I recently saw this book at a bookstore and welcome it in the mail. As a non-mother, Jew, I don't need to be a mom or even a Jew to learn how to have a great Friday night food celebration with friends.

    Thanks for the review and see you at Blogher!

  4. Great site! Thanks for the rec.


So--whaddaya think?