I'm a poet and the editor of "Hours of Devotion: Fanny Neuda's Book of Prayers for Jewish Women" (Schocken Books, 2007). My poems have appeared in The Antioch Review, The Iowa Review, Ploughshares, and in anthologies including "Nice Jewish Girls: Growing Up in America" and "Verse and Universe: Poems About Science and Mathematics." I live in Los Angeles and work as a book editor for the J. Paul Getty Museum. (For a more detailed biography, please go to my web site, dinahberland.com.)
Browsing in a used book store around the corner from my house, I discovered an English edition of Fanny Neuda's prayer book, "Hours of Devotion," during a time when my son, Adam, had been estranged from me for more than eleven years. In the book, among prayers for every day of the week, for the Jewish holidays, for illness and loss, and prayers especially for women, I found one titled "For a Mother Whose Child Is Abroad." This beautiful prayer gave me the courage to reach out to my son again. Within weeks, Adam was back in my life and is now the father of my two darling granddaughters.
Since the book helped me so much, I thought it would be wonderful if I could make it available to others as well. I soon learned that I had discovered a treasure. Originally written in German by the wife of a Moravian rabbi in 1855, "Hours of Devotion" was the first book of Jewish prayers to be written by a woman for women. It was published in 28 editions between 1855 and 1918, and translated into both English and Yiddish. As soon as I "accepted the assignment" of bringing the book back into the world, an amazing number of synchronicities began to occur, including the discovery of Respect and Tolerance, the organization in the Czech Republic that was to help me in my research.
Even after my edition of "Hours of Devotion" was published in August 2007, so many more amazing events continued to occur because of the existence of the book that I decided I needed a place to collect and share them all—and so this blog was born. It's called "Miracle Update" because that's what my friend and spiritual mentor, Ronnie Serr, began to call each of the episodes in the string of stories I was continuously sending him.
As each of these entries unfolds, I hope to be able to share those events with you and other musings and teachings that may arise along the way. Perhaps this chain of posts will lead to something larger and more cohesive—such as another book or even a film—who knows? Meanwhile, may they inspire you to consider all the events in your life—both ordinary and awesome, both great and not so great—as miracles from the Source of All and as reasons for thanksgiving.