Israel and books ignite an interest in Judaism

I am 83 years old, and although my parents were both Jewish immigrants from Romania, my mother was the very rebellious oldest child of Orthodox parents and my brother, sister and I grew up without any Jewish training. I learned about Passover from my maternal grandfather and when I became an adult with a home of my own, I always made a seder, but that was it.

When my husband expressed a desire to go to Israel, I spent the entire preceding year reading Yigael Yadin's "Masada" and "Bar Kokhba," Howard Sachar's "The Peoples of Israel" and Leon Uris' "Exodus" and his autobiography. I fell in love with Israel.

A few years ago I attended the Contra Costa Jewish Book Festival at the JCC in Walnut Creek and heard a terrific lecture that compelled me to go to Afikomen to buy the new JPS translation of the Bible. While there I discovered "Who Wrote the Bible?" by Richard Elliott Friedman.

I read the entire Old Testament, a few pages every night, and then Friedman's book.

I have not become an observant Jew — it's just not in me — but I'm terrifically proud of our Jewish history and of being a Jew. My two children, without any influence from my husband or myself, belong to synagogues and my son is studying Hebrew.