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Apr 29, 2016

Rabbi Susan Silverman is a bit of an alarmist. Don’t believe me? Just read her book. From the Prologue: Page xi:

“At recess, I’d puposely get an out in kickball in exchange for my parents still being alive when the 3 p.m. bell rang and the school day was over.”
SUSAN SILVERMAN podcast excerpt: "People are more likely to adopt if they feel their community has their back. I would say to people, create a situation in which you can adopt. If you have that in your heart and that capacity in your life, take the risk!"

And on Page 90, as a grown-ass married woman and mother:

“Once, upon hearing of a crash in Russia, I actually figured out how (my husband) could have ended up on that flight, a scenario that included a wrong gate and an absentminded ticketing agent. I had recently spent half the night dialing and re-dialing the front desk of his hotel, asking the same clerk to put me through to his room. I had left messages, but what if he didn’t check them? What if the red light on the hotel-room phone was out? What if he were lying dead in the gutter RIGHT NOW?
“…God created the world through poetic speech. I patrolled mine through vigilant bitchiness.”

Don’t misunderstand – I’m not making fun of Susan. (Okay, maybe a little. I am married; I know the drill.) As the first-born child of Beth Ann and Donald Silverman, Susan experienced a horrific trauma: her three-month-old baby brother died in his crib while her parents were on a short vacation and the baby was being cared for by Donald’s parents. That 1964 incident—at least from my reading of Susan’s new book, Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World – colored everything that has followed in her life, from being ordained to raising a family of five, becoming an adoption activist, and relocating from Boston to Jerusalem.

SUSAN SILVERMAN podcast excerpt: "My brother, Jeffrey Michael, was a baby when he died-- I don't even remember him. It wasn't until I was an adult and in therapy, talking this intense separation anxiety i have. I mentioned that I had a brother who died when I was two. My therapist said, 'WHAT?' I had been in therapy for three years already. She said, 'Susan, wake up and smell the coffee.' It helped shift things a lot. As did Zoloft."

In Casting Lots, Susan tells her story, warts, four-letter words and all, and makes her case for easing restrictions on international adoptions. By the way, I first became interested in Susan last summer when I heard the audiobook edition of her sister Sarah’s book, The Bedwetter, in which the comedian—perhaps best known for her music video, “F*@#ing Matt Damon” and support of candidates Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders—talks in awe about her big sister, the rabbi and mother.

Key interview moments:

• 3:40 Rabbi Susan Silverman talks about the personal breakthrough in therapy that helped her cope with her intense, lifelong separation anxiety;

• 13:10 She offers constructive advice to families considering adoption;

• 26:19 Silverman addresses her frustration with what she sees as a shift among aid organizations such as Save the Children and UNICEF away from private adoption and more focused on warehousing orphaned children around the world.

Rabbi Susan Silverman Second Nurture websiteFacebookTwitter • Wikipedia