One of the most talked about books in the Jewish community when it originally appeared, Remix Judaism: Preserving Tradition in a Diverse World offers an eloquent and thoughtful new vision for all Jews seeking a sense of belonging in a changing world, regardless of their current level of observance. Roberta Kwall sets out a process of selection, rejection, and modification of rituals that allow for a focus on Jewish tradition rather than on the technicalities of Jewish law. Her goal is not to sell her own religious practices to readers but, rather, to encourage them to find their own personal meaning in Judaism outside the dictates of Commandment, by broadening their understanding of how law, culture, and tradition fit together. She inspires readers to be intentional and mindful about the space they allocate for these elements in defining their individual Jewish journeys and identities. The paperback edition includes a new preface addressing recently released findings, including the Pew Report on the American Jewish Community, exploring the challenges of practicing Judaism today.
Table of Contents
Preface by Roberta Rosenthal KwallAcknowledgements Introduction: Why Remix MattersChapter One: A Celebration of Shabbat and Holiday TraditionChapter Two: Food: A Recipe For Remix Chapter Three: Marriage and Family Chapter Four: Children’s Jewish Education and the B’nai Mitzvah Experience Chapter Five: The Grandparent Factor: Life Stage MattersChapter Six: Tikkun Olam: Judaism’s Most Celebrated Remix?Chapter Seven: Remix and the Power of Jewish MourningEpilogueBibliography
. . . a helpful and innovative framework for those thinking about how American Judaism can survive and flourish. [Kwall] succeeds from the off at achieving her stated goal of introducing the “teachings and practices of the Jewish tradition in a way that comports with the sensibilities of Jews who are not, and likely never will be, observant by conventional measures.
Remix Judaism, a beautifully written and deeply personal book, rooted in both wisdom and scholarship, deserves the wide readership that its author hopes to find.
Kwall’s book should resonate with readers familiar with modern Jewish life, yet also be accessible to others, especially to those in ethnic or religious groups facing similar issues and to students in religious studies courses interested in contemporary hybrid observances.
In our polarized world, where left and right seldom mingle, where innovation and tradition are seen as enemies, Roberta Kwall has found a way, as an observant Jew, to reach a hand out to liberal and secular Jews, talking in a respectful way about how anybody can integrate Jewish practices into the well-lived life. Kwall is a pal, a teacher, and the ultimate Jewish life coach.
At this crucial moment, when Jewish life is at a crossroads between engagement and abandonment of Jewish knowledge, ritual and identity, Roberta Kwall reignites the tradition in all its vibrant colors. Remix Judaism might as well be called “Recharge Judaism,” because Kwall wakes us up, reminds us why Judaism powerfully endures … and connects us to a powerful inheritance that’s worth prioritizing. This accessible, wise, important book should be on every shelf.
Kwall is a keen observer of the contemporary Jewish scene, and she offers a clear program for modern Jewish life that has the capacity to address and motivate individuals and community. Her creative and rooted vision of Judaism is both exciting and inspiring. Remix Judaism will deservedly garner a wide readership!
Writing with much sympathy and in an accessible, non-doctrinaire style about the complexities of living as an active Jew in contemporary America, Roberta Kwall has set herself the task of encouraging the broad spectrum of non-Orthodox Jews to give Judaism a second look because she is convinced their lives will be enriched immeasurably….
In Remix Judaism Roberta Kwall puts forward a convincing case for liberal Jews holding tight to certain Jewish rituals and traditions even as they seek a Judaism flexible and meaningful enough to transmit to their children…It's an important message for our community at this critical time.
Kwall's Remix Judaism …calls for meeting people where they are and encouraging them to build on their practices by starting with what is already most meaningful about Jewish life to them and expanding outward.
Remix Judaism speaks to a moment of sharp Jewish polarity, when a vast majority of Jews tell pollsters that being Jewish is more important than doing Jewish.
Remix Judaism shows the diversity of opportunities for engagement in Jewish life that exists today. . . . Kwall’s book brings plenty of material to a book club discussion [and] has the potential to encourage conversations in families and among close friends . . . a remarkably accurate snapshot of where American Jews find themselves right now.
Through numerous examples Kwall teaches that non-Orthodox Judaism can be flexible enough to embrace Jews throughout their lives, nurturing them at every step, sustaining them with a rich sense of heritage . . . Remix Judaism gives us permission to connect to Jewish life and traditions on our own terms and to see our experience as an authentic and meaningful expression of Jewish life.
[an] important book . . . Remix Judaism offers one path toward remixing and renewing the beautiful, ancient, and marvelous ritual that keeps us and our children Jews, and in so doing, enhances the meaning and splendor of our lives.
. . .a celebration of Jewish life and culture, chock full of practical advice about tapping into Jewish traditions and values to enrich our lives and relationships . . . Whatever your level of Jewish identity and observance, Remix Judaism overflows with fresh, inspirational advice.
[Kwall’s] previous book, The Myth of the Cultural Jew, argues for the symbiosis between halakha—Jewish law—and the cultures inhabited by Jewish communities. Remix Judaism brings together these interests, builds on the idea that Jewish practice is influenced by the ambient culture, and analyzes the extent of that influence.
When I chose a Jewish life, I was hungry for anything that could tell me exactly what I was signing up for. Kwall has written the book I needed then, and what a joy to read it now and remind myself of the breadth of Jewish life and ingenuity.
There is no question in my mind that this work will be a guiding light to so many of us. If I could, I would make Remix Judaism required reading for all non-Orthodox Jews.
For a person who cares about the future of Judaism, this book presents a tremendous opportunity to take a journey with Kwall and think deeply about what it means to care about Judaism in this generation and generations to come.
Roberta Kwall grapples with the challenges and opportunities of an open and diverse society to offer pathways for engagement and deepened connection to Judaism for cultural and secular Jews.
9/1/22, Jewish Journal: Roberta Kwall wrote about Jewish ritual in this piece.
10/18/2019: Read about an illuminating conversation had by author Roberta Kwall in her new article for The Chicago Jewish Times.Link: https://www.chicagojewishnews.com/2019/10/strangers-share-an-emotional-connection-at-a-chicago-kosher-restaurant/
12/23/2019: “Want your interfaith kids to love Hanukkah? Expose them to Jewish traditions year-round,” writes Roberta Kwall for JTA News.Link: https://www.jta.org/2019/12/23/opinion/want-your-interfaith-kids-to-love-hanukkah-expose-them-to-jewish-traditions-year-round
1/2/2020: Author published column in The Jewish Journal; “Revisiting the Misheberach and Debbie Friedman’s Spiritual Legacy.”Link: https://jewishjournal.com/columnist/309032/revisiting-the-misheberiach-the-debbie-friedmans-spiritual-legacy/
1/8/2020: Author published column in The New York Jewish Week; “Disruptive Innovation When It Comes To Prayer.”Link:; https://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/disruptive-innovation-when-it-comes-to-prayer/
3/4: What does Remix Judaism mean for Tikkun Olam? Find out with the new excerpt published in EJewishPhilanthropy.Link: https://ejewishphilanthropy.com/creating-space-for-tikkun-olam-as-part-of-remix-judaism/
3/2/2020: Roberta Rosenthal Kwall writes on the power of Purim to bind families in her new op-ed for The Jewish Week.Link: https://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/the-power-of-purim-to-bind-families/
7/10/20, Jewish Week / Time of Israel: Author Roberta Kwall and her book are profiled with book cover and discussion of the ideas in the book in a feature piece by Andrew Silow-Carroll. Link: https://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/a-rousing-defense-of-pick-and-choose-judaism/
5/15/20: Author Roberta Kwall interviewed by Jewish Boston, "Looking at Judaism through a 21st-Century Lens." Link: https://www.jewishboston.com/looking-at-traditional-judaism-through-a-21st-century-lens/
2/12/20: "How to Remix Judaism For Younger Generations," Roberta Kwall writes for Publishers Weekly. Link: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/religion/article/82352-how-to-remix-judaism-for-younger-generations-roberta-kwall.html
5/4/20: Author interviewed on The Rabbi's Neighborhood with Rabbi Nolan Lebovitz. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjAKKITCUGs&feature=youtu.be
4/20/20: "Religious Observance Is An Asset, Regardless of The Faith," writes Roberta Kwall in Jewish Journal.
4/23/20: "Programs Fostering Meaningful Connections to Jewish Tradition Cannot be Side-Lined," writes Roberta Kwall for eJewishPhilanthropy. Link: https://ejewishphilanthropy.com/programs-fostering-meaningful-connections-to-jewish-tradition-cannot-be-side-lined-a-response-to-grinstein-shayson/?utm_source=April+23%2C+2020&utm_campaign=Thurs+Apr+23&utm_medium=email
4/23/20: Read Roberta Kwall's Op-ed in The Jerusalem Post, "Disagreement can be the basis of Jewish unity – even during a pandemic." Link: https://www.jpost.com/opinion/disagreement-can-be-the-basis-of-jewish-unity-even-during-a-pandemic-625528
5/4/20: Roberta Kwall writes for The Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Link: https://www.jta.org/2020/05/04/opinion/making-traditions-work-for-you-isnt-a-contingency-plan-its-the-authentic-jewish-way
7/13/20: Roberta Kwall reflects on changing Jewish Traditions for The Jewish Book Council. Link: https://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/pb-daily/a-remixed-yahrzeit-two-years-in-a-row
8/12/20: The Jerusalem Post published the author's latest op-ed, "Why Yitz Greenberg’s ‘road’ may lead to a stronger Jewish center."Link: https://www.jpost.com/jerusalem-report/why-yitz-greenbergs-road-may-lead-to-a-stronger-jewish-center-637433
9/10/20: Hadassah Magazine included book in roundup “Memoirs, Liturgy and Jewish Advice: High Holidays Nonfiction. Link: https://www.hadassahmagazine.org/2020/09/10/memoirs-liturgy-jewish-advice-high-holidays-nonfiction/
10/8/20: Author interviewed on Tablet Magazine’s podcast Unorthodox; “Shake It Off.” ink: https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5tZWdhcGhvbmUuZm0vdW5vcnRob2RveA/episode/NTM3Mzk0ODQtZjllYS0xMWU5LThiZTItM2ZlZDhjOGI0OGM4?hl=en&ved=2ahUKEwjko8O_9aTsAhVRCM0KHbWoA2QQjrkEegQIDRAF&ep=6
10/16/20: Author published op-ed in Jewish Journal: “Amy Coney Barrett is Not Alone in Her Bias.”nk: https://jewishjournal.com/commentary/opinion/322962/amy-coney-barrett-is-not-alone-in-her-bias/
1/08/21, Moment Magazine: Writer Amy Schwartz article “The Books That Got Away” featuring books from 2020 that are just as relevant in 2021 lists Remix Judaism. Link: https://momentmag.com/books-that-got-away/
1/08/21: Moment Magazine Writer Amy Schwartz article “The Books That Got Away” featured Remix Judaism as part of her list of books from 2020 that are just as relevant in 2021 lists Remix Judaism.