A Daughter's Kaddish: My Year of Grief, Devotion, and Healing

A Daughter's Kaddish: My Year of Grief, Devotion, and Healing

by Sarah Birnbach
A Daughter's Kaddish: My Year of Grief, Devotion, and Healing

A Daughter's Kaddish: My Year of Grief, Devotion, and Healing

by Sarah Birnbach


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A woman breaks with Jewish tradition to honor her late father in this moving memoir of faith, grief, and transformation.

A Daughter’s Kaddish recounts Sarah Birnbach’s year-long odyssey to persevere through an unfamiliar world of Jewish prayer. To honor her beloved father, Sarah commits to reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish twice a day in synagogue for eleven months—a Jewish mourning ritual that was historically reserved for sons—despite her father’s initial request that she hire someone male to do so. A novice worshipper and single working mother, Sarah encountered many obstacles—including gender-based objections to her prayer practice, her own daughter’s near-fatal car accident, an incident that tore her synagogue apart, and her mother’s dismissiveness.

Sarah incorporates these religious and spiritual practices into her already hectic 21st-century life while struggling with the heavy emotional distress of grief. As she travels the country for work, Sarah must find a synagogue where she can pray in each city and town she visits, a challenge that brings many surprises—and upsets. Throughout her year of devotion, Sarah takes comfort in the loving memories of her childhood while at the same time grappling with some very painful ones—ultimately discovering how the path of faith and grief can lead to true healing.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781637560228
Publisher: Wonderwell
Publication date: 09/27/2022
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 676,977
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Sarah Birnbach embarked on her encore career as a writer in 2015 after successful careers as a human resource management consultant and a licensed clinical social worker. She is a six-time award winner of the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, a program of the National League of American Pen Women, and a two-time award winner in Bethesda Magazine’s essay contest. Her stories have been published in numerous magazines and professional journals. An active member of the Women’s National Book Association, she lives in Rockville, Maryland.

Table of Contents

Timeline xi

Mourner's Kaddish xiii

Author's Note xv

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 The Promise 9

Chapter 2 Through the Generations 15

Chapter 3 My Journey into Judaism 21

Chapter 4 My Father's Blessing 27

Chapter 5 The Meal of Consolation 39

Chapter 6 Arriving 45

Chapter 7 Duality 53

Chapter 8 Shiva 57

Chapter 9 Entering a Man's World 69

Chapter 10 Respite from Grief 75

Chapter 11 Returning 81

Chapter 12 The Morning Minyan 85

Chapter 13 Embraced by Community 91

Chapter 14 Coming into Being 95

Chapter 15 Candle of the Lord 99

Chapter 16 Remembrance 105

Chapter 17 Sukkot 111

Chapter 18 Women Do Say Kaddish 117

Chapter 19 Traditions Transformed 121

Chapter 20 Prayer and Then the Laundry 133

Chapter 21 The Minyaneers 139

Chapter 22 Nine Is the Loneliest Number 147

Chapter 23 Accepting Reality 153

Chapter 24 Thanksgiving 159

Chapter 25 Choose Life 165

Chapter 26 A Community of Two 175

Chapter 27 Grief Squared 181

Chapter 28 God's Love Endures 187

Chapter 29 Bigger Isn't Always Better 195

Chapter 30 Personal Effects 201

Chapter 31 Betrayed 207

Chapter 32 What Matters Most 219

Chapter 33 The First Father's Day 225

Chapter 34 The Tenth Man 233

Chapter 35 Sacred Community 241

Chapter 36 The Final Kaddish 249

Epilogue: The Gifts 259

Glossary 267

Notes 279

Acknowledgments 281

About the Author 285

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