A Daughter’s Kaddish
My Year of Grief, Devotion, and Healing
A Daughter’s Kaddish recounts Sarah Birnbach’s year-long odyssey to persevere through an unfamiliar world of Jewish prayer. To honor her beloved father, Sarah commits to reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish twice a day in synagogue for eleven months—a Jewish mourning ritual that was historically reserved for sons—despite her father’s initial request that she hire someone male to do so. A novice worshipper and single working mother, Sarah encountered many obstacles—including gender-based objections to her prayer practice, her own daughter’s near-fatal car accident, an incident that tore her synagogue apart, and her mother’s dismissiveness.
Published by Wonderwell
Release Date: September 27, 2022
Available in hardcover and ebook
$37.95 CAD / $26.99 USD
In this memoir of love and grief, a devout daughter breaks with Jewish tradition to honor her father
To honor her beloved father, Sarah commits to saying Kaddish twice a day in synagogue for 11 months, as is stipulated by her religion. Sarah attempts to incorporate these new religious and spiritual practices into her already hectic twenty-first-century life while struggling with the heavy emotional distress of grief. As she travels the country for work, Sarah must find a synagogue where she can pray in each city and town she visits, a challenge that brings many surprises—and upsets.
Throughout her year of devotion, Sarah takes comfort in the loving memories of her childhood while at the same time grappling with some very painful ones—ultimately discovering how the path of faith and grief can lead to true healing.
Sarah Birnbach began her encore career as a nonfiction writer after successful careers as a human resources management consultant and family therapist in a juvenile court. She was a sought-after motivational speaker at numerous industry conferences and has delivered more than five hundred presentations and workshops.
Sarah’s lifelong journaling practice has informed her writing, for which she has won multiple awards. Her articles have appeared in Talking Writing, Bookwoman, JOFA Journal (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance), the Michigan Jewish History Journal, Intima, and Pen in Hand.
Praise for A Daughter’s Kaddish
“Readers will appreciate Birnbach’s candor and insight into the gender dynamics of Judaism. This soulful outing has plenty of heart.”
“A thoughtful meditation on sacrifice, memory, gender roles, and of course—grief.”
A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically
“A heartwarming, sometimes heart-wrenching, and always honest story.”
Rabbi Mindy Avra Portnoy, rabbi emerita, Temple Sinai, Washington, DC, and author of A Tale of Two Seders
“Birnbach’s love letter to her father is a meditation on grief and the power of a spiritual practice to transcend our most painful losses.”
Michelle Brafman, author of Washing the Dead
“Sarah Birnbach has made a major contribution to the literature of bereavement. She weaves together her personal story, grief, and spiritual development into a work that will move readers of diverse backgrounds and experiences.”
Kate Thompson, author of Therapeutic Journal Writing
“A brave and beautifully crafted memoir of love, loss, and enduring faith, rich with emotionally resonant stories. A Daughter’s Kaddish is enlightening, enlivening, and profoundly inspiring.”
Kathleen Adams, LPC, founder/director, Center for Journal Therapy, and coauthor of Your Brain on Ink
“Sarah Birnbach embraces a custom that has been for so long the province of men. As we see on these pages, she—and we, her readers—are the richer for it. And we can only imagine that her father is smiling down on her with joy.”
Ari L. Goldman, author of Living a Year of Kaddish
“Sarah Birnbach tells an inspiring story of faith and determination in A Daughter’s Kaddish, a modern take on an ancient ritual.”
Arch Campbell, former news anchor, NBC
Press, Awards, and More
A Woman Breaks with Jewish Tradition to Honor Her Late Father in This Moving Memoir of Faith, Grief, and Transformation
A Daughter’s Kaddish recounts Sarah Birnbach’s year-long odyssey to persevere through an unfamiliar world of Jewish prayer and chart a course without a roadmap—releasing September 27, 2022, just in time for the Jewish holiday season.
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