We have all taken that journey. We know it well. We have looked inside to discover who we are and who we want to be. How will we adjust to our (new) reality?
Recently, I finished reading Let my RV Go by Nicole Nathan, an inspirational tale of Pauline Berkovitz, a Jewish woman who has chosen to live her life as an Orthodox Jew, leaving many of her experiences behind. She struggles to fit in to the community, a society that expects parents and children to act, dress, and speak a certain way. Pauline and her husband Sam have travelled the world, but this Pesach (Passover), they take the trip of a lifetime. Their trip (yes, in an RV) leads Pauline and company on a mysterious journey of self acceptance and discovery. Along the way, she meets and influences others, transforming from student to teacher.
I appreciated many aspects of the book and was pleasantly surprised by how I connected to the protagonist. Here are some points that stood out for me:
1. Pauline and her husband Sam are not in the same spot spiritually, and that is okay. Their marriage is strong even though they differ in how they relate to their religious observance and their children. They complement one another and work together.
2. "Sam is still in a holy space, whereas I am the keeper of the mundane." As a Jewish mom, I can totally relate to that. I have to keep the laws of Kosher in the home, wipe the kids' noses, plan our holiday and Shabbos meals, carpool, and provide spiritual and emotional guidance to my children. All in a day's work! It is an important job even if we don't feel moved by it. We must realize we have the tools to help our children grow in an environment we feel is best for them. We should strive to appreciate the opportunity.
3. The author uses humor to describe life with young children. "I flushed? Am I insane? I wish I could take that flush back more than anything else." Self explanatory. We have all been there, done that. I am that mom.
4. The Berkovitzes do not fit into a box. They are not quite like anyone else they know (aside from the one couple they befriend, Mike and Julia who also found Judaism later in life). They do not squash their personalities and lose their identities as they turn to Orthodox Judaism. Instead, they embrace their past and use their experiences to be more caring, thoughtful, and emotionally intelligent people. "I may not be able to trace my lineage to a scholarly rabbi in Vilna but I have plodded across mountains and jungles to come back to my roots." With this ability, Pauline and Sam are able to connect to, teach, and inspire others.
5. Without giving away too much of the plot line, Pesach is a time to rejoice in our freedom as a Jewish nation, to celebrate life, revel in our personal freedom, and appreciate the ability to serve our Creator. We are individuals and we need to connect to G-d in a way that hits a personal nerve and touches us. Pauline exemplifies this concept. "Us... BT's [ed. note: baal t'shuvahs, or people who have returned to G-d and Jewish practice] should be happy to bring parts of ourselves into the rich tapestry of Judaism; and if this requires adding an extra splash of color to some of the more staid traditions, it can only be enriching." People should not lose their personalities just because they are religious. Our community should strive to be more accepting and open, to understand where people come from and that each person has his or her own personal journey.
Find freedom. Take your journey. Travel and laugh with Pauline.
To purchase/download the book, click here.
I hope you enjoy!