Journal of Practical Theology

It is with a certain amount of trepidation that I begin a blog that is not about technology. After all, I have degrees and credentials in technology, and none in theology — just practical experience to share, in the hope that it might help others.

This blog describes a journey of almost 15 years (so far) that began with a phone call on a Sunday night, as my wife Joanne, daughter Miriam, and I were about to sit down to dinner. That call, telling us that our older daughter Shira had been run over by a car in Harvard Square and was in critical condition, changed the trajectory of all of our lives forever. We dashed up to Cambridge in our minivan and spent the next five days in the ICU waiting room, with family and friends, watching Shira slip away from us until she died the morning of December 22, 2000, two months shy of her 21st birthday.

We are the same people we were 15 years ago, yet we are also transformed by the experience of Shira’s death. Coping with that transformation is what this set of memoirs is about.

My journey (I don’t speak for the rest of the family, although you can find part of Joanne’s take in an article on saying Kaddish for Shira that appeared in the magazine CJ) has been through exile and alienation (in the first years after Shira’s death I considered a blog called “Greetings from Mitzrayim”) then wandering (“Bemidbar”) and finally to something at least somewhat grounded. I think — the jury may still be out on that point.

So this blog is about practical theology, the little ways that I cope with loss while still participating in the liturgical life of my community. Some of my coping mechanisms are written; I have been presumptuous enough to ghostwrite God’s Al Chet which will appear in a future post. Some are adjustments I (or in the case of the Pesach Seder, we as a family) have made to standard practice in order to cope with the unthinkable.

This blog is also in lieu of the book Arthur Hertzberg wanted me to write. Rabbi Hertzberg was convinced that if he liked somebody, they must have a book in them. Alas, I am not a writer of books; Rabbi Hertzberg, wherever you are, this will have to do. Have your heavenly assistant print out the posts for you and read on.

While anger and grief will always be with me, they don’t consume me.  I write about them in the hope that maybe a little kernel of an idea will help somebody else get through a day in their journey.

(In loving memory of Shira Palmer-Sherman z’l)

About the Author
Andy Sherman is an information security consultant with long experience in the financial services and healthcare industries. He is an active member of New York's Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, where he is a volunteer musician in the weekly children's service. Andy is married to Joanne Palmer, the father of Miriam and Shira (z'l) Palmer-Sherman. and grandfather of Nava and Judah Sherman-Vaisberg.
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