We recent­ly launched a new Fri­day edi­tion of our e‑newsletter, in which our Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Nao­mi Fire­stone-Teeter shares her week­ly read­ing picks and invites sub­scribers to write back. It’s been a great way to con­nect on a more per­son­al lev­el, We’ve been thrilled to hear back from read­ers, whether with their own read­ing rec­om­men­da­tions or their thoughts on a book we sug­gest­ed. If you’re not already sub­scribed, you can sign up for our email list here.

When Richard Siegel, Jew­ish edu­ca­tor and co-edi­tor of the Jew­ish Cat­a­log” (Jew­ish Pub­li­ca­tion Soci­ety) series of do-it-your­self guides to Judaism, passed away two weeks ago, Nao­mi asked read­ers to share their mem­o­ries of the Jew­ish Cat­a­log. Here are some of our favorite respons­es that demon­strate just how impact­ful these books were:

I always felt com­fort­ed by and had been spir­i­tu­al­ly com­mit­ted to Judaism but The Jew­ish Cat­a­log infused it with the cool’ fac­tor, activism and a plu­ral­is­tic obser­vance. The book was a first step for the seri­ous­ly engaged Jew­ish life I’ve lived. Those 60’s and 70s Jew­ish com­mu­nal movers and shak­ers no doubt made a huge con­tri­bu­tion toward diver­si­ty with­in our com­mu­ni­ty. I do hope, mov­ing for­ward, we can con­tin­ue this path with­out for­get­ting kind­ness, legit­i­ma­cy of feel­ing and under­stand­ing all sub-groups in our Jew­ish world. There’s much lip-ser­vice but not much hon­esty and intro­spec­tion.” —Susan

I was a young woman when the Cat­a­log was pub­lished. Its with-it way drew me to Judaism, and its chal­lah recipe, now famous­ly known as Janet’s Chal­lah” has become one of my dear friend’s own famous chal­lah. Amus­ing­ly, I prac­ticed bak­ing this chal­lah for our son’s bris. It was huge and bare­ly fit in the oven. But deli­cious it was, and quite a stun­ner!” —Janet

The Jew­ish Cat­a­log was pur­chased for the ref­er­ence col­lec­tion in our local branch of the library. I know this because I was the ref­er­ence librar­i­an in charge of buy­ing the books for that col­lec­tion in 1986. I used it occa­sion­al­ly to answer obscure ques­tions in the days before the inter­net. It was not easy to find answers in books at that time to cul­tur­al ques­tions about Judaism, espe­cial­ly in Ari­zona with a fledg­ling Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty. It served the pur­pose of intro­duc­ing many to Jew­ish prac­tice in a way that was nei­ther stodgy nor inac­ces­si­ble.” —Sue

It was 1974/75, I had fall­en in love with a young man — not an obser­vant Jew but very staunch in his tra­di­tions and desire to have Jew­ish chil­dren and a Jew­ish home. I am Ital­ian and was raised in a strong Catholic fam­i­ly. I too knew a lot about tra­di­tions, fam­i­ly din­ners, and the need to hon­or and respect one’s par­ents. In 1975 I was explor­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of con­vert­ing to Judaism. The Jew­ish Cat­a­log allowed me to view Judaism from its unique per­spec­tive and opened my heart to a world and life I could not have imag­ined. We were mar­ried after my con­ver­sion in 1976, start­ed a fam­i­ly in 1980 and I have had the priv­i­lege and joy of mak­ing a Jew­ish home and rais­ing a Jew­ish fam­i­ly. The Jew­ish Cat­a­logs accom­pa­nied me for all those years.” —Car­ol

I found The Jew­ish Cat­a­log to be life-chang­ing. Though I grew up in a won­der­ful Con­ser­v­a­tive Jew­ish home, in a great shul in Pitts­burgh, PA, I learned so much from the book. I espe­cial­ly learned what kind of ques­tions to ask, and I shared this with my par­ents. It was also a great equal­iz­er at col­lege! I went to Clark in Worces­ter, MA, and when we would see some­one had the book, it was an instant con­nec­tion!” —San­dra