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Reviewed by Tawny Molina for Readers' Favorite
A Daughter’s Kaddish: My Year of Grief, Devotion, and Healing by Sarah Birnbach is a heartwarming and eye-opening look at a woman’s attempt to fulfill a religious obligation for her father but seems to run into every issue imaginable to prevent it, be it traditionalists telling her that women do not say Kaddish to simply bad timing of locations choosing not to hold services during certain times of the year. Despite these complications, many of which would have disheartened anyone in her situation, Sarah managed to adjust and find ways to fulfill her duty to her father’s soul, God, and just as importantly, find the healing she needed for herself.
I picked up A Daughter’s Kaddish not only in the hope of reading a beautiful memoir but also for its possible educational possibilities. As a woman born of a Jewish mother but never raised in the faith, I could not help but find a deep appeal in this book. I had no idea there were so many complicated and beautiful rituals connected to the passing of a loved one. Sarah Birnbach's journey is explained in easy-to-follow terms. She has done a wonderful job of allowing those of us uneducated in her faith to understand the need and reasoning for the Kaddish as well as the other aspects of Jewish life that are described in this book. This memoir not only gives us a glance at a daughter’s healing but a look at the faith that is so important to her and her late father.