Many Catholic women are ignorant of the Jewish roots of our faith and the rich tradition that we share with our Jewish brothers and sisters. Cheryl Dickow seeks to correct that with Our Jewish Roots: A Catholic Woman’s Guide to Fulfillment Today by Connecting with her Past. The book is divided into two parts. The first focuses on “Traditions, Teachings, and Truths Rooted in the Jewish Faith.” This section makes for fascinating reading. Topics such as marriage vows, baptismal waters, the role of angels, the importance of good deeds, the power of prayerful intercession, mysticism, and holy feasts are explored from the perspective of their Jewish beginnings. These pages help one realize just how much we do share with our Jewish brethren and how much we Catholics owe to their traditions.
The second portion of the book centers on “Role Models for Today’s Catholic Women.” This is where Dickow truly shines. She begins by discussing a woman’s worth, not our worth as the world often chooses to measure it, but our worth in the eyes of God. “From Eve to Sarah to Deborah to Mary, Scripture assures every woman who has ever lived that her life is both special and valuable. Her life has a purpose and a meaning set by God and necessary to His plan for humankind. Each and every one of us came here with an extraordinary set of gifts and a particular set of circumstances. Our births were the intentional acts of an affectionate, devoted God whose love for us is truly immeasurable. We are as unique and varied as stars in the sky. Our gifts and talents are limitless – even if they sometimes feel non-existent or without value.” Dickow defines true feminism as support of a woman’s vocation, whatever God may have called that particular woman to be. She then goes on to explore the lives of several women from Scripture to illustrate that there is a role model for each one of us.
These women come to life through Dickow’s words and reflections. One will rediscover well-known women such as Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel, and will perhaps become acquainted for the first time with less famous, but no less important, women such as Lot’s wife, Zipporah, Shiphrah and Puah. Each of these women that Dickow profiles has something to teach us, if we only take the time to reflect on their stories.
Our Jewish Roots has much to offer to modern Catholic women struggling with where they fit in God’s big plan. By knowing our history, we can better understand ourselves, our own faith, and the dignity which God has bestowed on women throughout the ages.