Ilene Winn-Lederer’s new book, An Illumination of Blessings, may well have a dramatic effect on the reader. The book makes the recitation of daily brachos exciting and interesting. It is a compilation of thirty-six blessings organized into six categories: life, sustenance, journeys, sight, wisdom, and peace. Each prayer is presented in beautiful Hebrew and English calligraphy, along with an exquisite illustration and a scholarly and inspirational commentary. Marc Michael Epstein, noted scholar of medieval texts and Jewish culture, succinctly captures the essence of the volume in his introductory comments; he states that it is “remarkable, unusual, fascinating and precious.” It also sounds a “shofar call to mindfulness,” thereby serving to reinvigorate the tradition of saying brachos with kavanah, or focused attention, instead of repeating them robotically.
Winn-Lederer carefully selected the prayers to “cover activities throughout a given day” and to “help enhance your appreciation of our world’s prosaic and profound beauty with which we are all blessed.” This beautiful book of prayers deserves to be read and studied many times over to help explicate the full meanings of the blessings we say ( or should say) every day. It is a delightful gift for people of all ages and varieties of ritual observance.
Ilene Winn-Lederer attended The Art Institute of Chicago and The Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, and she is currently a board member of the Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators. She is the author and illustrator of Between Heaven & Earth: An Illuminated Torah Commentary. Her stunning drawings and paintings are included in public and private collections throughout the United States and Europe.