So Many Books, So Little Time: A Yom Kippur Minhag
It's not as though I don't have any unread books on my bookshelf. In fact, sometimes it feels as though most of them are unread and there's just no time to pluck one from the shelf, curl up and get lost in its pages. Among my recent acquisitions still waiting for the binding to be broken and the pages to be devoured are Rabbi Jill Jacobs' There Shall Be No Needy: Pursuing Social Justice through Jewish Law and Tradition, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach, The Woman with a Worm in her Head and Other True Stories of Infectious Disease by Pamela Nagami (yes, I'm the daughter of a parasitologist) and Simon Baatz' For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz Age Chicago.
My father recently finished the Baatz book and has now passed it along to me, highly recommended. You may recall that I first mentioned this particular book in a blog post I wrote last year at about this time. That was shortly after he and I - as we do each year - spent a bit of time on Yom Kippur afternoon browsing in the Barnes and Noble near my parents' congregation.
This year, as we walked and talked among the books, we thumbed through Rosemary Mahoney's Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff, Norman Podhoretz' Why Are Jews Liberals, a few of Paul Thoreaux's travelogues, some of the novels in Emile Zola's Rougon-Macquart cycle (yes, I'm still working my way through Germinal) and finally Michael B. Oren's Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present.
That last book caught both our eyes - my father's because he'd been at the 2008 luncheon at which the book won the New Jersey Council of the Humanities Book Award and mine because Michael Oren is the current Ambassador of Israel to the United States and is to be a guest at the Union's upcoming Biennial convention in Toronto next month. He's also a noted scholar, historian and writer, and perusing the first few pages of the book convinced me that I want to read more. My father agreed that he, too, wants to read it and so it was that before we headed back to temple for the afternoon service, he bought a copy for us to share.
So now there's yet another unread book on my shelves, but this one is different. If I'm lucky, I'll have an opportunity to have it inscribed to us at Biennial and, once I'm home, time enough to read it.