The cover of The Choosing: A Rabbi’s Journey from Silent Nights to High Holy Days is a direct, visual reference to the classic Jewish coming-of-age story The Chosen: Rabbi Andrea Myers, posed as the hero of that story stands holding a religious text. The cover pretty much tells the story of the whole book by mixing metaphors: The Choosing tells Andrea Myers’s journey from Lutheran girlhood to rabbinical school. Along the way, she comes out as a lesbian. Myers moves between worlds and religious experiences effortlessly, structuring her hilarious and heartwarming tale around Jewish holidays.
Especially hilarious are the stories of Myers’s mother, who shows acceptance for her daughter’s newfound Judaism by replacing the bulbs in the electric Menorah with blinking, bright red Christmas lights, because she “thought [it] looked prettier.” Also choke-on-your-coffee funny is the scene where Andrea’s mother tries to thank the nice Orthodox man behind the counter at the Judaica store by giving him a full-body hug, blissfully unaware of the strict religious rules that prohibit men and women touching: “The other Orthodox men lunged for their colleague; I lunged for my mother. None of us were in time,” Myers recounts with customary humor, referring to the hug as “two bricks shy of a lap dance.”
Even more serious scenes are not without humor, as in the scenes where teenage Myers kisses her first girl and realizes all at once, in one of the most touching lines in the book that being gay might change her world forever: “In that moment, I realized how much of the world I had left to see – and that even if I wanted to stay home, I would have to go away.” There is a Jewish saying: “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.” In The Choosing, Myers shows us that by saving your own life through honesty and self-acceptance, barriers – to family, to love, to joy – are no longer insurmountable barriers but merely imagined lines.
Fast paced, thoughtful and heartfelt, The Choosing is about one woman’s willingness to follow her own spiritual path and hear her own inner voice without sacrificing her funny bone.
Picture By “Peter”
By Marissa Cohen