Devo­tion: A Memoir

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By – September 9, 2011
Dani Shapiro lives with end­less ques­tions. Raised in an Ortho­dox Jew­ish fam­i­ly, she believes she has escaped that sti­fling” world. Yet she finds that every time she touch­es some­thing that reminds her of that world, she has the urge to cry and then expe­ri­ences a dis­arm­ing sense of peace. Instead of seek­ing fur­ther in that direc­tion, she runs from those feel­ings, per­ceiv­ing them to be noth­ing more than the com­fort­ing mem­o­ries of child­hood. Thus, her search con­tin­ues. Nei­ther AA meet­ings nor yoga and med­i­ta­tion yield much tran­quil­i­ty. Final­ly, a series of loss­es and near loss­es lead Shapiro to real­ize that the jour­ney is reward­ing only if “…there is val­ue in sim­ply stand­ing there — this too— whether the sun is shin­ing, or the wind whip­ping all around.” Lat­er she con­cludes that each of us is full of long­ing, reach­ing out with our whole selves for some­thing impos­si­ble to touch. Still, we are reach­ing, reach­ing.” While one may have wished for Shapiro to reveal a return to her roots, her depic­tion of her walk through shame, guilt, pain, dark­ness, and light is beau­ti­ful­ly told.

Read Dani Shapiro’s Posts on the Vis­it­ing Scribe

Jew­ish Church

Find­ing the Jews


Deb­o­rah Schoen­e­man, is a for­mer Eng­lish teacher/​Writing Across the Cur­ricu­lum Cen­ter Coor­di­na­tor at North Shore Hebrew Acad­e­my High School and coed­i­tor of Mod­ern Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture: A Library of Lit­er­ary Crit­i­cism, Vol. VI, pub­lished in 1997.

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