And They Shall Be My People, by Paul Wilkes
Paul Wilkes, a Catholic, has written several books about his own religion. One of them, In Mysterious Ways: The Death and Life of a Parish Priest, tells the story of a local priest in Natick, Massachusetts. This new book is a kind of sequel, following a rabbi and his congregation—this time in Worcester, Massachusetts—for a year.
The congregation is Beth Israel, a Conservative synagogue with a membership of 500 families. In several ways, Beth Israel is religiously a more observant and traditional congregation than most in the Conservative movement. It houses a Jewish day school (only 70 of the 550 Conservative synagogues in America can claim this distinction); perhaps as many as 20 per-cent of the congregants follow the laws of kashrut; and 40 members are sufficiently learned to be able to serve as readers of the Torah scroll (which requires memorizing the punctuation and vocalization of the text, as well as the musical notes in which it is chanted). Beth Israel’s rabbi, not coincidentally, is a member of the Union for Traditional Judaism, the more traditional caucus within the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly.
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