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(RNS) — Sarah Hurwitz spent eight years in the Obama White House writing speeches, first for the president and then, almost exclusively, for Michelle Obama.
But the 42-year-old Harvard Law School graduate has found a surprising direction post-politics. After a breakup with a boyfriend, she found refuge and meaning in Judaism, a faith she had all but abandoned after her bat mitzvah at age 12.
Along - Meaning - Spirituality - Deeper - Connection
“Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality and a Deeper Connection to Life — in Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There),” is the very long title of her new book. Like her speeches, the book is graceful, accessible and conversational in tone.
In the years following her White House stint, Hurwitz describes diving head-first into Jewish classes, workshops, retreats and one-on-one study sessions with rabbis from different streams of American Jewish life. And doing what she does best, she decided to write about her journey.
Experiences - Book - Memoir - Primer - Anyone
Though she draws on her own experiences, the book is not really a memoir but a primer for anyone wanting to better understand Judaism, with chapters on the Torah, God, Shabbat, holidays and life rituals. At its heart, the book is about grappling with Jewish values and wrestling with how to make them relevant in today’s fractured, individualistic culture, in which, as she says, “all American Jews are Jews by choice.”
RNS talked to Hurwitz from her Washington home. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Book - Change - Direction - White - House
Does this book represent a change of direction for you, from White House speechwriter to Jewish educator?
I don’t know if it represents a total career change. But I will say it’s very different to go from writing in someone else’s voice to writing in my voice. Michelle Obama knows who she is, and she always knows what she wants to say. Being her speechwriter involved sitting...
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"Tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive." C.S. Lewis