“I wasn’t on a big existential journey, it wasn’t a spiritual crisis,” said Sarah Hurwitz. “I was just looking to fill my time.” After a breakup, Hurwitz — who was raised Jewish but mostly disengaged following her bat mitzvah — found herself signing up for an introductory class on Judaism.
“When you stop learning about Judaism when you’re twelve, you have a child’s version of it,” Hurwitz said. “It was really hard to learn about Judaism as an adult,” she said. “It’s a 4,000-year tradition. There’s so much there.” Thus began years of study, which Hurwitz describes in her book, “Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life — in Judaism.”
For Hurwitz, a speechwriter in the Obama White House for eight years, writing about her experience was challenging. “They are two very different skills,” she said. “Speechwriting is not about writing in my voice. I wrote for Michelle Obama — a woman who knows who she is and what she wants to say.”
Still, Hurwitz added, it was good training for writing a book meant to appeal to multiple audiences. “My Judaism has been informed by so many different perspectives,” she said. “I write understanding that my audience has a very diverse practice of Judaism and a very diverse understanding of Judaism, including none at all.”
Hurwitz, a Wayland native, hopes the book will help foster reconnection among Jewish readers, while non-Jewish readers can see what Judaism offers about “how to be a good person, how to live a meaningful and worthy life, how to find deep spiritual connections.”
Her book comes at a time when Jewish identity has become politically fraught. “I never thought I would see the day when an American president would call 80 percent of American Jews disloyal,” Hurwitz said, but added,” the fact that a lot of people have woken up, that makes me inspired.”
Hurwitz will read Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Harvard’s Kennedy School, and 7:30 p.m. at Kehillath Israel Congregation, Brookline.
Kate Tuttle, a freelance writer and critic, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.