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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Non-Fiction Book Review: Jew in the Pew

Photo by: Serge Bertasius Photography

Jew in the Pew: A Memoir by Jenny Berg Chandler reflects the feelings and thoughts of Mrs. Chandler, a Jewish lady married to a gentile man. They attend a Baptist church together with their three children. Mrs. Chandler feels empty because she perceives her Christian church friends don’t connect with her Jewishness and her familiarity with the Old Testament feasts. They don’t even know about Pesach!

Mrs. Chandler looks back on the days when she was a child, when the extended family got together for Jewish Sabbath observances and the feasts. Those were special times, with all the family around the table, the blessing being said, and she remembered them with fondness. She felt that her children were missing out.

So, she begins observing the Sabbath—not without some hilarious problems—and makes it a tradition for their family. Then, she observes the feasts and invites friends and family. Mrs. Chandler joins a Jewish women’s organization and finds herself drawn back to synagogues for worship and skipping church more and more.

The author is definitely a believer in Jesus as her Messiah, and she appreciates Him in her life. Her problem seems to be that she misses the celebrations and the family gatherings and the Jewish forms and traditions. I also felt she lacks consistent, devotional Bible reading.

I picked this book up for an understanding of Jewish Christians and how they might feel. In this, I believe the book was profitable.

I had some problems with the language Mrs. Chandler uses—some crude language and one profanity used several times throughout. She also has no problem with drinking alcohol, and I do. I felt that she had some valid points about Christians not understanding the Old Testament feasts, especially in relation to Christ, pointing to Christ. We gentiles should be better educated! We would appreciate the Old Testament more, were we to see Jesus in the feasts.

On the other hand, I felt that she was somewhat only thinking of herself when she did some of the things. The book comes across as very “me” centered. Maybe it was just the way I read it, but I thought her husband was very accommodating towards her, and she didn’t seem to want to do much for him—like attending and enjoying Easter services. I really didn’t understand why she couldn’t enjoy the resurrection of her Savior—a crucial part of the gospel. I also had a problem with her leading the Jewish women’s society, where one of the rules for her was “no proselytizing.” If you’re not allowed to share your Messiah . . .?!

It was, however, an interesting book and well-written. I would only recommend it to someone who wants—as I did—to understand a Jewish believer’s view on the issues of Old Testament Jewish traditions versus the gentile Christian church. Especially if you minister in a Jewish neighborhood, it would be worth your while, with the caveats mentioned above.


  1. Sounds interesting! A friend of mine who visited Israel said that so much of the Bible made more sense afterward. I do think we miss a lot from not knowing much about the Jewish culture.

    1. It was interesting. I believe we need to do some homework and present the gospel message along with the Old Testament foreshadowings. Thank you for sharing about your friend and the Jewish culture. God bless, Barbara!


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