Review of Things Overheard in the Synagogue

July 16, 2015

By Rabbi Ari Enkin

I’ve never read poetry in my life before, and frankly, I have no interest in it. But I grabbed the opportunity to examine “religious poetry.” I know of no other work of Torah poetry in the orthodox world.

Ira Bedzow’s new book “Things Overheard in the Synagogue” is a beautiful and quaint collection of over seventy pieces of poetry reflecting his thoughts and emotions and many different issues in the Jewish world in general, and the synagogue world in particular. It’s a work where the author “gets things off his chest.” There are also a number of pieces where the author uses poetry as a springboard for Talmudic and Midrashic commentary. There are also about twenty short essays in the section “Remarks and Reflections.” Read the rest of this entry »


A Review of Things Overheard in the Synagogue

December 18, 2012

by Fred IsaacThings Overheard in the Synagogue

In this book author Ira Bedzow combines poetry and short essays on a variety of themes. These themes include Torah drashot, verses on a number of important topics, and personal statements. Taken as a group, they provide a personal statement with significant insight.

The first two-thirds of this small book contain Bedzow’s “Poems.” Beginning from Torah, he expands to comment on various issues, including the ways in which we communicate (and sometimes fail to do so); the meaning of Tzaddik; and the various emotions, sentiments and comments that swirl around the synagogue.

Many of the statements are evocative; we see people we know, and we recognize the large and small figures they cast upon us and others. The rest of the writings in this volume are labeled “Remarks and Reflections.” They are mostly vignettes taken from the author’s life, covering everything from the uses of Calculus to the value of lay leadership over professional clergy. Bedzow watches people closely: he sees how they act and how others react to them, and he remembers other instances that may or may not be similar. From these small pieces, which the reader may well recognize, he builds his corner of the world. By allowing us to look in on them, he gives us a chance to see our own common humanity.

While this is not a mandatory purchase, it would be a useful addition to libraries that collect personal statements and those that buy books of poetry. It is accessible to high school students as well as adults, and may stimulate important discussions in classrooms and around dinner tables.

 This review first appeared in the December 2012 issue of the AJL newsletter.