The December Project: An Extraordinary Rabbi and a Skeptical Seeker Confront Life's Greatest Mystery [NOOK Book]

Overview

In 2009, New York Times bestselling author Sara Davidson was surprised by a call from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, asking her to engage with him in what he called "The December Project." At eighty-five, Reb Zalman wanted to teach people how to navigate the December of life and to help them "not freak out about dying."

Davidson jumped at the chance. She feared that death would be a complete annihilation, while Reb Zalman felt certain that "something continues." For two years, ...

See more details below
The December Project: An Extraordinary Rabbi and a Skeptical Seeker Confront Life's Greatest Mystery

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$12.99
BN.com price

Overview

In 2009, New York Times bestselling author Sara Davidson was surprised by a call from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, asking her to engage with him in what he called "The December Project." At eighty-five, Reb Zalman wanted to teach people how to navigate the December of life and to help them "not freak out about dying."

Davidson jumped at the chance. She feared that death would be a complete annihilation, while Reb Zalman felt certain that "something continues." For two years, they met every Friday to discuss this and how getting "up close with mortality" quickens our ability to relish every day.

Woven through their talks are sketches from Reb Zalman's life: escaping the Nazis; becoming an orthodox rabbi in the U.S.; landing in San Francisco during the sexual revolution; taking L.S.D. with Timothy Leary; befriending other faith leaders, including Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama; and founding the Jewish Renewal movement.

During their time together, Davidson was nearly killed by a suicide bomb and Reb Zalman faced a steep decline in health. They created strategies to deal with pain and memory loss and found tools to cultivate fearlessness and joy—at any age. Davidson includes twelve exercises so readers can experience what she did, a sea change in facing what we all must face: mortality.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
12/09/2013
This work is the fruit of a series of weekly conversations conducted over two years between the 60-something journalist and writer Davidson (Loose Change) and the pioneering 85-year-old neo-Hasidic/Jewish Renewal rabbi, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. Besides touching on topics like aging well, facing mortality, and dying, Davidson provides a biographical sketch of Schachter-Shalomi—from his narrow escape from the Holocaust through the influence of the sixth Lubavitcher rebbe on his life and thought to his encounters with such influential non-Jewish figures as the Catholic monk Thomas Merton. In their meetings, Zalman makes insightful observations from his personal struggles and spiritual journey, and poses striking questions to the author. Fortunately, Davidson and Schacter-Shalomi don’t elide the most difficult aspects of aging, including physical pain and memory loss (a topic close to Davidson, whose mother suffers from Alzheimer’s). Davidson ends with 12 exercises—from taking a “gratitude walk” to feeling free to “kvetch to God”—designed to help readers achieve a Zalman-like, hard-earned equanimity in the last stage of their lives. For boomers who wish to devote serious attention to questions of meaning as they experience ineluctable aging, this book of intense, personal conversations leavened with profound insights is an excellent place to begin. (Apr.)
Barbara Brown Taylor
“Anyone embarking on The December Project is in for a surprise: there is as much laughter, healing, and deep peace in these pages as sober reflection on being human. Above all, this book is a testament to the rich rewards of conversation between fearless friends.”
Rodger Kamenetz
“Anyone who has had the opportunity to spend private time with Reb Zalman, to be in spiritual intimacy with him, knows it is a life-changing experience. Sara Davidson has had that experience, and now through her writing, you can too.”
Marianne Williamson
The December Project embodies deep spiritual wisdom…. A lovely book.”
Rabbi Michael Lerner
“Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi is the most creative teacher and practitioner of Jewish spirituality in the Western world. Sara Davidson’s lively engagement with his teachings highlights a curious mind and a beautiful soul that we are blessed to be able to encounter through this book.”
Rabbi Tirzah Firestone
“Davidson brings us the dialogue we dream of having: where we can place our darkest doubts and fears in the loving embrace of a profound elder, who’s grooming us patiently for what’s waiting around the inevitable corner of our lives.”
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
“Renowned journalist Sara Davidson has drawn out new, previously unrevealed dimensions of Reb Zalman, one of the great teachers of our age. Listening in on their conversations is both mind and soul expanding.”
Anna Jedrziewski
“As baby boomers begin to approach the end of their lives, the time is right for books about the spirituality of dying.... This is a book they’ll want to read.”
Will Blythe
“An exuberant piece of writing I found both moving and instructive. What makes it so rich is that Davidson owns ‘a seeker’s heart and a skeptic’s mind.’”
Rabbi Rami Shapiro
“A biography of a spiritual genius preparing for his last day by helping us prepare for our next day. If you don’t know Reb Zalman, please let Sara introduce you to him. If you do know him, please let Sara introduce you to him more intimately.”
Andrew Weil
“Thoroughly engaging, this book about the winter season of life glitters with insight and wisdom—for all our years.”
Larry Dossey
“This is not a morbid book about the end of life, but a bright, spirited discussion between a great teacher and a sincere seeker.”
Sharon Salzberg
“A gem of a book for anyone of any faith tradition. Reb Zalman is wise, funny and irresistible. You will want to read this book cover to cover.”
Spirituality&Health
“Bracing, brave observations [that] should empower readers of any age.”
Boulder Daily Camera
“A warm and wise new book . . . a mediated memoir and meditation on the end of life. … A tour through the rabbi’s unusual life sprinkled with bits of folksy wisdom, and suggestions on how to achieve a little peace yourself.”
Tablet Magazine
The December Project is full of the ‘great questions’ that Schachter-Shalomi is famous for asking. [The book] distills spiritual wisdom and teachings about coping with mortality of this rabbi who has spent his life both deepening his ties to the Jewish tradition and innovating outward.”
Jewish Journal
“In her compelling new book, Davidson allows us to eavesdrop on two years of conversation with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. . . . Reb Zalman’s wisdom shines out from the book’s pages . . . a celebratory book.”
The Jewish Daily Forward
”There are really three books here: Reb Zalman on the December years, his recollection of his life, and Davidson’s own journey. Each has its rewards. …The December Project is the best rendering of Reb Zalman’s wisdom that I’ve come across.”
Jay Michaelson
“Revelatory… the best rendering of Reb Zalman’s wisdom that I’ve come across… (Davidson’s) transformation seems to have come simply from being in the elder sage’s presence - and seeing that there’s a real person behind the “sage.” Thanks to “The December Project,” we can taste some of that presence ourselves.”
Library Journal
11/15/2013
The aging of the baby boomer generation seems to have opened up the taboo topic of death in new ways (e.g., Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking). Here Davidson (Loose Change) converses with Zalman Schachter-Shalomi ("Reb Zalman") to help readers of all ages prepare for the last stages of life: to come to terms with fear, with loss, with pain, and with letting go. VERDICT Both a kind of biography of Zalman and a moving manual on dying, this book should reach far beyond a Jewish or aging readership.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062281760
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/25/2014
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 78,774
  • File size: 446 KB

Meet the Author

Sara Davidson is the New York Times bestselling author of eight books, including Loose Change; Joan: Forty Years of Life, Loss, and Friendship with Joan Didion; and Leap! Davidson has written for the New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, Harper's, The Atlantic, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and more, and has been featured on The Today Show and 60 Minutes, as well as on public radio. Davidson lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Half the author's proceeds go to support the work of Reb Zalman.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi founded the Jewish Renewal movement and is a preeminent rabbi, teacher, and professor emeritus at Temple University. He is widely recognized as one of the most important Jewish spiritual teachers of our generation and has published more than 150 books and articles.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2014

    My favorite phrase written by Sara Davidson: "...stop pret

    My favorite phrase written by Sara Davidson:
    "...stop pretending there was a cornucopia of time ahead of me."

    My favorite idea, Sara Davidson reporting on the Rabbi:
    ascribe meaning to seemingly random sounds, such as a bell hung for that purpose.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)