The Book of Separation - Tova Mirvis

Staff Pick
Raised Modern Orthodox, Mirvis saw the religion as “more than what we believed—it was the enclosing walls of the house, its sheltering roof, its steadfast foundations.” So when she left both her husband and Orthodoxy, Mirvis felt homeless. She’d lost her identity and had nothing to ground her. She was shunned by former friends. In this honest, painful memoir,  Mirvis recounts  how she’d lived for years by the rules of “don’t say what you really think. Don’t name what you really feel,”  and how, little by little, she did speak and feel things her religion didn’t sanction.  Her rebellion started small—driving on the Sabbath. Eating non- kosher pizza. Writing novels not entirely flattering to the Orthodox community. With each new transgression Mirvis felt she was  punching small “air holes” in the box she was trapped in. When she finally broke out—she was terrified. With so much internalized guilt, she expected harsh judgment, and the echo of The Book of Revelation in her title is likely intended.  Instead of doom, however, she slowly found freedom, and her memoir is a beautifully written account of how she left one world and established herself in another—one where Orthodoxy is “a place I visit but where I no longer live.”