Things Overheard in the Synagogue review

by Eli K.

This generation has witnessed a proliferation of Torah literature, from Halachic treatises to Biblical exegeses.  Yet despite the outpouring of Jewish religious books, there is a major vacuum in Orthodox literature – the absence of religious poetry.  Well, I am happy to tell you that a good friend of mine, Rabbi Ira Bedzow, has begun to fill that void.

In Things Overheard in the Synagogue, Rabbi Bedzow identifies religious, personal and social themes in a poetic style unparalleled in its ability to convey depth with simplicity.  Simple observations lead to complex introspection; natural feelings compel sophisticated reflections; and common conversations inspire philosophical insights.

Although titled Things Overheard in the Synagogue, this book encompasses things overheard in the street, in the home, and things not overheard at all, but residing in the private, active mind of the author.  The concept of memory is analyzed (page 32); social interactions are dissected (e.g. page 51); and Biblical passages come alive (e.g. page 16) as a range of human experience is expressed through the prism of a thoughtful religious scholar.

This book is sure to resonate with the thinking Orthodox Jew.  Some of Rabbi Bedzow’s emotions strike a common chord and express what many of us feel but are perhaps reluctant or unable to properly express.  Some of Rabbi Bedzow’s thoughts are novel and will catch the reader off guard.  But all of them are eloquent and enjoyable to read.

The Orthodox world is indebted to Rabbi Bedzow for retrieving a long-lost art in rabbinic literature.  I thought Orthodox poetry was dead, but, apparently, there is an individual valiantly attempting to resuscitate it.

This was posted on Provocative Perspectives.

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