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Book Power

Libi Astaire

Books can whisk you off to distant locations, take you back in time, propel you to the future. They can introduce you to fictional characters whose struggles and triumphs become your own. But they can do even more —book can change your life. Family First writers share unforgettable titles, and the impact they made.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Caught by a Chassidic Story

It’s no accident that I live in Neve Yaakov. Although many people think this neighborhood, located in northern Jerusalem, is “out of town,” when I realized that the main street is named after Rav Shlomo Yosef Zevin I knew I had found my spiritual home. You see, it was partially thanks to Rav Zevin — or rather, his two-volume work A Treasury of Chassidic Tales (ArtScroll) — that I became frum and found a career as a journalist and novelist.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. You can see how someone who miraculously overslept on the morning of 9/11 could do a complete turnabout and become a baal teshuvah. But from a chassidic story? That sounds too much like … well, a chassidic story. So let me tell you mine.

I grew up in what’s known as theKansas Citymetropolitan area, which spans the border betweenMissouriandKansas. Even by the most stringent opinionsKansas Cityis “out of town,” so it should come as no surprise that I didn’t know much about Chassidus growing up. But this isn’t a story about growing up in an out-of-town community. It’s a story about a word — a word that became a battle cry for my generation, growing up during the 1960s and 1970s: Relevant. 

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