Hard Blessings


...containing over thirty stories, including the author’s, from people who relied on Jewish practice to help them through illness. The text is enhanced by nineteen original artworks by Susan.


Hard Blessings:
Jewish Ways Through Illness 

by Susan Kaplow
$25 plus shipping



I was inspired to make this book by my own experience of serious illness, during which my connection to Judaism calmed and bolstered me. At every turn, our tradition offered me a blessing — a needed chant or prayer, or text, or ritual — that helped me through this long and frightening time. In the pages of Hard Blessings you will find my stories and those of many others who took solace and courage from Jewish practice.

Partway through collecting and editing, I began to make art inspired by the stories I was receiving. Working visually gave me a renewed appreciation for the unique ways in which the gift of blessing can arise from illness. You might find an image that steadies you, or brings you softening, or a needed moment of beauty. I offer these stories and my accompanying artwork as inspiration for your own creativity in taking Judaism personally when facing illness.


“Hard Blessings is a gift to anyone who has ever struggled with illness. The stories within show the powerfully transformative spiritual resources Judaism offers to those facing dark times and deep fears.”

Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses 
Education Director, Romemu

“Susan Kaplow’s new book, Hard Blessings, brings to the Jewish community a much-needed source for visual meditations and chants. Susan is both a wonderful artist and a compassionate human being; she uses her experience to help heal the world.”

Tobi Kahn 
Artist and Educator

Selected images from Hard Blessings


To see what people are saying about Hard Blessings and to join the conversation about Judaism, illness, and art, go to Susan Kaplow's Facebook page.