October 6, 2011 at 5:35 pm EDT | by Terri Schlichenmeyer
The religious life

‘The Choosing’
By Andrea Myers
Rutgers University Press
187 pages

Andrea Myers loved to ask questions as a child. But no answer was ever thorough enough and certain things were never discussed. Controversy was forbidden in her family, topics of religion and sexuality among them, as the Long Island-raised author writes in her new book “The Choosing.”

Myers’ mother was a Sicilian Catholic who had been “insulted” by the Church and, as a result, Myers and her siblings were raised in their father’s Lutheran faith. Theirs was a boisterous family: Myers devout grandmother lived upstairs and fiercely loved her granddaughter; Myers’ mother steadfastly stuck up for her children no matter what and her father had a dubious flair for fashion.

With her inquisitive mind, there was no question about college but when it came time for Myers to apply, she felt as if there was little choice. Her boyfriend said that if she chose a local college, they might as well “talk marriage.” But what he didn’t know was that Myers had been secretly dating girls for several years.

She chose Brandeis University and left home. There, she found people who didn’t care that she was gay and a religion that seemed to answer a lot of endless questions but that asked even more.

Seeking out a beloved campus Rabbi, Myers told him that she wanted to convert to Judaism and become a Rabbi. He didn’t follow tradition by turning her away three times; instead, he welcomed her, but warned her that it wouldn’t be easy. Undaunted, Myers embraced the challenge by moving to Jerusalem to study.

In many ways, it was a decision that changed her life.

Filled with wisdom, humor and the kind of contentment that only comes when one has found his or her right place in the world, “The Choosing” is one of those books that leaves you feeling oddly serene.

Myers writes about her life: her quirky family, memorable childhood experiences, her wife and children, mentors and friends, but she also takes opportunity to educate readers on Talmudic teachings, Jewish laws and her own spirituality. There’s plenty of humor in this book — you can almost hear the twinkle in Myers’ words — but at the same time, she imparts a sense of refreshment, subtly pointing out the miraculous in the everyday.

If you’re looking for inspiration, direction or a few gentle laughs, you’ll love this surprisingly charming book.


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