Rekindling the Flame: The Many Paths to a Vibrant Judaism

Overview

Jewish leaders have been fretting for years over the threat assimilation poses to the American Jewish community. Psychologist Samuel Osherson looks behind the statistics and finds that Jewish values and practice are alive and well among the uncounted. All over this country, in big cities and small towns, intermarried, unaffiliated, and traditionally unobservant Jews are redefining their faith and returning in their own way to Judaism.

In a pioneering psychological analysis, ...

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Overview

Jewish leaders have been fretting for years over the threat assimilation poses to the American Jewish community. Psychologist Samuel Osherson looks behind the statistics and finds that Jewish values and practice are alive and well among the uncounted. All over this country, in big cities and small towns, intermarried, unaffiliated, and traditionally unobservant Jews are redefining their faith and returning in their own way to Judaism.

In a pioneering psychological analysis, Osherson looks at the parental and authority issues that drove many Jews away; and he describes the circumstances that bring them back to a different form of Jewish practice-more open to other traditions, more accepting of imperfections in education and belief.
This is another chapter in the great story of the Jewish people, and a handbook for Jewish seekers and strivers who want to rebuild the bridges to their religious and cultural heritage.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Psychologist Osherson writes about Jews around the country, both young and old, who are finding creative -- and frequently surprising -- ways to explore and uphold their religious roots.
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR FINDING OUR FATHERS
Finding Our Fathers is a treasure."—Dan Kindlon, Ph.D., coauthor of Raising Cain

A groundbreaking classic work . . . Osherson, in a delightful and clear writing style, brings us stories of personal meaning that bring tears to one's eyes."
—William S. Pollack, Ph.D., author of Real Boys

Finding Our Fathers offers sound advice, perspective, and hope."
-Judith Jordan, author of Women's Growth in Connection
Read this book! It is a gem."—Nancy Goldberger, Ph.D., coauthor of Women's Ways of Knowing

Publishers Weekly
Osherson (Finding Our Fathers), a psychotherapist and self-described "perplexed Jew," tackles the psychology of the "disconnected, discontented and uncounted" Jews whom he says comprise the bulk of American Jewry today. Rather than assuming assimilation means that Judaism is dying, he argues that faith plays a critical role in the process of shaping adult identity even for those who appear to be far from tradition. Understanding the "undertow" the childhood-based emotions, conflicts and fears that color attitudes toward religion can help "build some bridges between the tradition and the discontent," forging both a revitalized community and a stronger sense of self. Osherson urges against measuring Jewish connection by external behavioral markers such as synagogue membership or the ability to read Hebrew, noting instead that many Jews view their Judaism as a "work in progress" that can change with life events like the birth of a child or the death of a parent. Osherson does not rest his case with a psychological discussion; he presents practical solutions for living in an assimilated world and draws his illustrations for finding joy in Judaism from the vibrant lives of real people. Readers may not agree with all of Osherson's assertions viewing intermarriage as a potential source of strength, for example but those who follow the thoughtful process he encourages could discover fresh insights for change. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780151006335
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/4/2001
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.29 (d)

Meet the Author

Samuel Osherson is chair of the psychology faculty at the Fielding Institute, clinical associate at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and a psychotherapist in private practice. He is the author of the bestselling Finding Our Fathers and the critically acclaimed Wrestling with Love: How Men Struggle with Intimacy.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Uncounted and the Discontented 1
Part 1 Why Jews Struggle with Judaism
Chapter 1 Who's a Good Enough Jew? 25
Chapter 2 The Psychological Resistance to Being Jewish 45
Chapter 3 L'Chayim to Life: Overcoming the Resistance 80
Part 2 Solutions for Living in an Assimilated World
Chapter 4 Composing and Recomposing Judaism in Our Lives 97
Chapter 5 Can You Be a Good Jew and Love Handel's Messiah? 116
Chapter 6 Intermarried--and Jewish 137
Part 3 Finding the Joy in Judaism
Chapter 7 The Psychology of a Vibrant Judaism 173
Chapter 8 Creative Solutions to Careers: The Real Tikkun Olam 204
Chapter 9 Making Judaism Your Own at Home and on the Holidays 241
Chapter 10 Fresh Air in the Synagogue 271
Conclusion: The Jew in the Mist--Being Jewish in Changing Times 303
Appendix Starting and Enjoying Your Own Jewish Discussion Group 318
Notes 325
Acknowledgments 347
Index 350
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