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November 01, 2002 - Image 67

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-11-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

1 D .
A New Rabbi -
At Beth Shalom .

Synagogue
14stings

. .

he
cols,

Rabbi Yedwab focuses on

helping teens learn about God.

names, such as: 'I Am What I Am,'
`Other Jewish Ways to Think About
God,' `Go(o)d Ideas' and `Oh, My
God.' Before long, everyone was just
calling it 'The God Book,' perhaps to
distinguish it from 'The Sex Book,'"
Rabbi Yedwab says in reference to his
2001-published book, Sex in the Texts.

SHELL' LIEBMAN DORFMAN

StajrWriter

0

nce again, Rabbi Paul
Yedwab has created a book
with wonder on the outside
and insightful learning on
the inside.

The God Book: A
Necessarily Incomplete Guide
to the Essence of God (UAHC
Press; $10), is the culmina-
tion of two decades of discus-
sion with hundreds of
teenagers on how they
learned about God.
The Temple Israel rabbi says he dis-
covered many of them rejected the
existence of a spiritual force "because
no one ever thought to discuss God
with them in a more adult fashion."

For that reason, Rabbi Yedwab says the
book includes stories "that represent a
level of faith beyond his or her own."
The rabbi excludes such stories as that
of Noah, which, he says, "depicts a God
who destroys most of the people of the
Earth because they are bad" and instead
focuses on those he feels
enforce a search for the nature
— the essence — of God.
Describing the book as
an antidote to premature
atheism," Rabbi Yedwab's
choice not to examine
"God's complete Jewish
biography or historical
resume" resulted in the book's subtitle,
`.`,4 Necessarily Incomplete Guide to the

"

Essence of God."
The- main title actually named itself,
he says. "It began with many other

Who Reading It?

While the Union of American Hebrew
Congregations in New York City lists _
The God Book as intended for seventh-
and eighth-grade students, Rabbi
Yedwab sees it as a valuable tool for
older students and adults.
"I use the book as a textbook in my
high school theology class, but I have
also found it to be invaluable in spiritu-
al counseling with adults and am using
it now in my adult education class," he
says. "Basically, our students are faced
with the same God metaphors over and
over again, and when they reject those,
they think they are atheists.
"The book attempts first to explain
the concept of the theological metaphor
and then to expand the palate of tradi-
tional Jewish God metaphors from

which the readers can choose," he says.
With the emphasis that he is "not
trying to give the students my theology"
which he does present in a final entry in
the book, the rabbi asks the reader to
react to what's presented on their own
— in thought, discussion and on jour-
nal-like pages called "My God Diary."
Diary pages, which follow each
chapter, begin with thought-provoking,
personally insightful questions related to
the previously read text. Questions
include: "How did you learn about God
as a child?" "In your opinion, what
causes evil in the world?" "What lan-
guage does God speak?" "What do you
think happens after we die?"
The rabbi intends to help readers
overcome the theological obstacles
placed before them in the past, and help
with. developing their own theologies.
"The diary entries are invaluable in this
theological thought process," he says.

Thinking And Believing

The book's brief chapters, with Hebrew
and English-translated text, open
discussion on such topics as "Creation
of the. Universe," "What Happens After

2002

67

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