Casting Lots, A Memoir of Motherhood, Adoption and Anxiety
Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World by Susan Silverman (Da Capo Press, 256 pp. $24.99)
“My whole life I felt like God’s bitch,” Rabbi Susan Silverman shockingly writes in the beginning of her new memoir, Casting Lots. The shock should not be such a surprise, since she’s the sister of irreverent comedian Sarah Silverman. But somewhat more surprising is this heartfelt tale of Susan Silverman’s search for God, identity and family as she becomes a rabbi—much to everyone’s bewilderment—and creates her blended family by birthing three daughters and adopting two sons from Ethiopia “We produce girls and import boys,” she writes. The “we” includes her husband, Yosef Abramowitz, a pioneer in the development of solar power in Israel.
The book toggles between times, starting out when Silverman was a worrywart child—perhaps caused by the death of her brother as a baby or by her parents’ fractious marriage—and moving into the present as a wife and mother, trying to fulfill her childhood dream of a blended family.
“Mommy, when I grow up I want to adopt a hundred children, one from every country,” she recalled saying as a young girl.
Silverman and her husband chose to adopt from Ethiopia because it spoke to them—Abramowitz had been active in bringing the country’s Jews to Israel. After they adopted their second son, in 2006, the family of seven, originally based in the Boston area, moved to Kibbutz Ketura in the south of Israel, a stone’s throw from the actual, original Mount Sinai.
“Life in suburban Boston had been wonderful in many ways. But it had been like the tablets without words [the first tablets that Moses broke because of the Israelites’ idol worship]—missing the kind of relationship with God that allowed for us to create as Her partners,” Silverman writes. “We hoped that the second set of tablets, buoyed by bold text, awaited us at the foot of Sinai.”
Amy Klein is a freelance writer based in Manhattan.