Judith Shulevitz on the Sabbath


It’s still Passover and I’m still processing the experience of my family seder, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to link you to two pieces about a new book by Judith Shulevitz, The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time. I’m delighted to see that Rebecca Neuberger Goldstein, who wrote the fantastic recent book on Spinoza and Jewish identity, did the New York Times review of Shulevitz’s book.

Shulevitz, who grew up in an observant Jewish household, is ambivalent about how to keep Shabbat in a traditional way. No longer Orthodox, she has to come to terms with how to rest on Shabbat. She has both a deep understanding and background in Jewish thought and culture, and a profoundly American sensibility–I’m listening to her interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air program, and it’s amazing.

When I’m trying to figure out how to talk about Jewish observance for interfaith families and not to repel people by making one mode of observance the normative one, it’s really hard to talk about resting on Shabbat. By resting I mean not only doing the rituals that make Shabbat beautiful, but stopping work, or as Shulevitz puts it, being together, not exerting mastery over the world–resting together, not only resting. Shulevitz says some great things in this interview and I’m enticed to read this book and have it reviewed on our site, if I can.

One thought on “Judith Shulevitz on the Sabbath”

  • I’m and Arab Muslim who’s married to an Israeli Jew and I also was listening to the interview and I enjoyed her point of view on the Sabbath. I feel that we do not have to take things just the way they are, but instead we have to look deep for the purpose of them. I liked hearing Judith saying that Sabbath is not only about resting, but more about resting together and not dominating the world for one day.

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