The UU Common Read

A graphic illustration shows the head and shoulders of nine different adults in individual squares, as in an online meeting.

A UU Common Read creates community for learning and reflection, whether we gather in person or online.

When we do a UU Common Read together, we share in reflection, learning, and action. A UU Common Read can take us on a powerful journey into what it means to be human and accountable in a world filled with both pain and joy.

Common Read 2023-24: On Repentance and Repair by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg

The cover of the book "On Repentance and Repair: Making Amends in an Unpaologetic World," by Danya Ruttenberg has a beige background with grey lines like cracks in a hard surface, with the title words over this. There is also a medallion that says "National Jewish Book Awards Winner."

New UU Common Read for 2023-24

UU Common Read groups are invited to discover Unitarian Universalist resonance with the writings of the 12th century Jewish physician and scholar, Maimonides. With her interpretation, Danya Ruttenberg's book points people of any and all faiths toward modern day accountability practices that can really make a difference. Purchase On Repentance and Repair from inSpirit, the UUA Book and Gift Shop; bulk discount available.

The new UU Common Read is On Repentance and Repair: Making Amends in an Unapologetic World by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg (Beacon Press, 2022).

This UU Common Read was announced at the UUA 2023 General Assembly. Available now are an overview of this UU Common Read, Introduction to the Discussion Guides, and Workshop 1 of three that are planned.

This Common Read offers a glimpse into one of our faith’s foundational sources, Judaism. Readers explore the call to accountability as we follow Rabbi Ruttenberg into a framework for making amends offered by the 12th century Jewish physician and scholar, Maimonides.

On Repentance and Repair invites readers of any faith to explore practices for accountability that can bring us into wholeness and really make a difference in our personal, community, and national relationships.

Purchase On Repentance and Repair from inSpirit: The UU Book and Gift Shop. Discounts on bulk orders of 10 or more books. An audiobook, narrated by Shelly Sheckell, is available from Libro.FM and other sources.

Discussion Guides and Videos

Available Now

  • Introduction to the UU Common Read of On Repentance and Repair
  • UU Common Read Discussion Guide, Workshop 1 (two 75-minute sessions)
  • Video. Homily: On Repentance and Repair (Vimeo, 14:15). The Rev. Alison Miller, Senior Minister at First Unitarian, Portland, OR, connects On Repentance and Repair with a Unitarian Universalist yearning for the social and personal transformations that can make ourselves more whole and the world better and more fair. This homily was offered to the UUs for Jewish Awareness (UUJA) Shabbat worship service at the 2023 General Assembly.
  • Video. Pastor Libby Howe of the Wisconsin Council of Churches interviews the author, Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, on Ash Wednesday, 2023. The two discuss connections between Christian belief and practice and Maimonides' framework for accountability (Facebook, 31 min.).
    Download and read a transcript of their conversation (Word), 9 pages).
  • Video. The Rev. Darrick Jackson delivers a sermon, "Stop in the Name of Love," on related topics at Second Unitarian Church of Chicago in October, 2021 (YouTube, sermon at 35:55). He cites work by the LGBTQ disability activist Mia Mingus ("The Four Parts of Accountability"). The worship service, fully recorded, also includes a Time for All Ages reading of an illustrated children's book, "How to Apologize."

Preview the video resources for On Repentance and Repair. Share the links to the videos when promoting your UU Common Read. Suggest participants watch one or more before gathering for Workshop 1. You could even schedule an additional meeting, as a watch party to launch this Common Read.

Coming, Fall 2023

  • Workshop 2 and Workshop 3 Discussion Guides
  • Video. Author Danya Ruttenberg meets with the Rev. Marlin Lavanhar of All Souls UU in Tulsa, OK. How can religious grounding--from Unitarian Universalism, Judaism, or any faith tradition--help us find our road to a transformative repentance?

Using the Common Read Discussion Guides

Please read the Introduction to this Common Read. It contains important guidance for planning, promotion, and workshop facilitation.

The discussion materials for this UU Common Read invite participants to apply the book to their own experiences. Using a small group ministry format, participants gather online or in person for one, two, or three workshops facilitated by religious professionals or lay leaders.

The workshops explore repentance and repair in (1) interpersonal relationships, (2) communal spaces, such as our congregations, and (3) our wider communities, such as nations. Workshop 1 may be offered as two 75-minute gatherings or by combining Parts I and II for a half-day Common Read. UU Common Read groups are encouraged to do Workshop 1 first, then move on to Workshops 2 and 3.

Workshop 2 will have special appeal to committees, boards, and action groups seeking a new, faithful approach to accountability within their congregational communities.

Workshop 3 offers a deep dive into accountability and repair for UUs committed to transforming our nation, systems, and world.

  • Workshop 1: Repentance and Repair in Our Lives and Relationships (150 minutes)
    • Part I: Meeting Maimonides (75 minutes)
    • Part II: Maimonides in Practice (75 minutes)
  • Workshop 2: Repentance and Repair in Our Covenanted Communities (90 minutes)
    • Includes optional and expanded activities for a series of two or three workshops
  • Workshop 3: Repentance and Repair to Transform Our World (90 minutes)

Previous UU Common Read Selections

2022-23 Mistakes and Miracles by Nancy Palmer Jones and Karin Lin; UU Common Read Mistakes and Miracles resources

2021-22 Defund Fear by Zach Norris; UU Common Read Defund Fear resources

2020-21 Breathe by Imani Perry; UU Common Read Breathe resources

2019-20 An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Beacon Press, 2015) and An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People  adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese (Beacon Press, 2019); UU Common Read discussion guide (PDF, 37 pages)

2018-19 Justice on Earth: People of Faith Working at the Intersections of Race, Class, and Environment, edited by Manish Mishra-Marzetti and Jennifer Nordstrom; UU Common Read discussion guide (PDF, 34 pages)

2017-18 Centering (UU Common Read discussion guide (PDF, 28 pages)) and Daring Democracy (UU Common Read discussion guide (PDF, 31 pages))

2016-17 The Third Reconstruction by The Reverend Dr. William J. Barber with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (UU Common Read discussion guide (PDF, 27 pages))

2015-16 Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (UU Common Read discussion materials)

2014-15 Reclaiming Prophetic Witness by Paul Rasor (UU Common Read discussion guide (PDF, 20 pages))

2013-14 Behind the Kitchen Door by Saru Jayaraman (UU Common Read discussion guide (PDF, 20 pages))

2012-13 The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (UU Common Read discussion guide (PDF, 19 pages))

2011-12 Acts of Faith by Eboo Patel (UU Common Read discussion guide (PDF, 17 pages))

2010-11 The Death of Josseline by Margaret Regan (UU Common Read discussion guide (PDF, 28 pages))