Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Book Review: Our Jewish Roots, by Cheryl Dickow

Church history is a passion of mine, so when Cheryl Dickow posted information about her new book, I jumped at the opportunity to write a review on it. This is her fifth book and reading “Our Jewish Roots” has been an amazing journey, so I can only imagine what the other books will lend! Packed in this 200-paged jewel are the introductions of several ladies that had parts that changed salvation history for the good. I have spent so much time in the New Testament that I had totally forgotten about a few of these ladies and found myself back nose-deep in the Pentateuch getting reacquainted. Cheryl lovingly guides us through these introductions, explaining the roles of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah, Zipporah, Deborah, showing us how real they were and the different gifts they had to fulfill their roles.

“Our Jewish Roots” is a Catholic woman’s guide to fulfillment today by connecting with her past. It begins by explaining Jewish customs and practices as they pertain to our Catholic traditions. Traditions like the Jewish bride in her badeken, a veil, why she wears one, and the breaking of the glass’s significance. Other traditions like Baptismal Waters, Pilgrimages, What’s in a Name, Good Deeds, or mitzvahs, Angels, messengers from Heaven, Intercession are rooted in the Jewish past and are brought forward in our Catholic heritage. Jewish mysticism as with St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, had connections with the mystical teachings of Kabbalah or handing down of a tradition, from Jewish mysticism. These are gifts from the ancients that today are severely underutilized and sorely unappreciated.

The section on feminism was my favorite part, each of these ancient matriarchs were true feminists as “they recognized and embraced the gifts she had uniquely been given by God as “woman” and understood that her inherent worth existed because she had been created with love by her heavenly Father…” They were courageous women, warrior women, and rulers. All followed their Feminine Genius. John Paul II wrote about this, he knew that we rise to the challenges and become “gifts of self” to others every day. To quote Cheryl here, “The fact remains: if we fail to do our job, or reach our destiny, we leave a hole in God’s plan. It is imperative that we understand that no one can do what each of us is uniquely called to do. We are different for a reason: His reason.” Men and women have separate, distinct roles to play in His plan, “they are truly separate, but complete one another.”

Arm in arm Mrs. Dickow walks us through the Jewish traditions with each of our matriarchal heroines, “Zipporah, Abigail, Noah’s wife: all strong women whose lives illustrate a woman’s ability to affect the world from within the walls of her home, from her daily living in the Spirit of God.” After discovering my Jewish Roots I am ever more convinced that getting caught up in the secular message that we must be equal to men is a severe mistake. Women have the power to change our society and knowing our roles as amazingly powerful even in small packages is a nobler attitude.

Understanding more clearly what we do and why we do things in our Catholic faith gives way to a deeper conversion of the heart and mind. We are all called to know, love, and serve our Heavenly Father and with clearer knowledge of His plan, we can do just that. Our Jewish brothers and sisters are part of us, their heritage is our heritage, their God is our God and though Christ our savior is not part of their belief, we share so much and we have to respect them for this. We have the new covenant in Jesus Christ, but from the old came the new and there is much to learn still. Through “Our Jewish Roots” Cheryl gave us a gift of understanding and appreciation that opens doors and brings to light where we came from. Pray for our Jewish kinsmen and know that they are in prayer as well. Our Heavenly Father is with us all as the Alpha and Omega. “I will set my tabernacle in the midst of you, and my soul shall not cast you off. I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people.” Leviticus 26: 11-12.

As a Catholic wife and mother, daily I give to those around me, without thinking it a donation; as it comes from love and God’s gift of feminine genius that is usually on autopilot. I am here for a reason, someone needs me and through the lessons of my ancestors in Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, Miriam, Zipporah, Deborah, I have a treasure trove of inspiration in my very own Jewish heritage.


Barbara Schoeneberger said...

I am glad to hear of this book. Like you, I am fascinated by our Jewish roots and long for the time when the Jews will recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of the promise. Only this week I posted two articles about the great, old Jewish illustrator of the Psalms, Moshe Tzvi HaLevi Berger. Every contact with our Jewish roots leaves me wanting more. Thanks for writing about this. It's going on my list to read.

RAnn said...

Sounds like a fascinating book