Praise for Chapters of the Heart

Anne Lamott

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This book is a beautiful, profound, and deeply touching addition to the body of spiritual writing that heals and reveals ourselves to us in our full humanity. Nothing moves me more than women telling the truth about their real lives—their families, relationships, choices, inspirations, losses, transformation, survival, their histories and their immersion in the now. And these writers are a stunning gathering of women, a quilt of rich, wise voices

—Anne Lamott, author of Travelling Mercies

Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi

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I have long encouraged women to share their journeys toward holiness; Chapters of the Heart brings together a remarkable circle of women who share their Jewish wisdom with insight and humor, taking their place in the tradition of sacred storytelling.

—Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi, Founder, Jewish Renewal Movement

Sylvia Boorstein

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Here are twenty marvelously articulate, candid, brilliant, thought-provoking responses to the question, how does your spiritual understanding and practice support you in times of challenge? They are the voices of contemporary Jewish women, but the issues they address are universal. . . . This book will be a solace to everyone who reads it.

—Sylvia Boorstein, author of It’s Easier Than You Think

Rabbi Brad Artson

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Reaching deep into their wise hearts, these women harvest words of healing, joy, sorrow, rage, and delight—nothing less than the fullness of life—which they then gift to us, their readers. Torah lives anew in each of these powerful echoes, and the insights you find here may well change your life.

—Rabbi Brad Artson, American Jewish University

Mary Catherine Bateson

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With tact and wisdom, the authors of this collection of essays, more than half of them rabbis, chronicle their personal experiences of choices and challenges facing women everywhere, addressing each through the spiritual and cultural resources of the Jewish tradition, not prescriptively but in individual voices, each suggesting discovery or creativity and a path of growth. This is a book for all seasons.

—Mary Catherine Bateson, author of Composing a Life

Jonathan D. Sarna

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In this remarkable volume, twenty Jewish women, pillars of Jewish feminism, tell the truth about their lives. Their stories—some painful, some harrowing, some uplifting—engage life’s deepest mysteries and wrestle with texts designed to help. Recommended for men and women alike.

—Jonathan D. Sarna, Brandeis University

Mary C. Boys, SNJM

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These essays beautifully express the power of Jewish tradition to inspire and sustain a life rich in meaning. Yet, their profundity transcends the bounds of Judaism, speaking wisdom to readers of diverse traditions and cultures.

—Mary C. Boys, Union Theological Seminary

Rabbi Irwin Kula

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This book brings together extraordinary explorers of life who mix truth, courage, wisdom, grace, surprise, delight, and love in a magic alchemy. . . . Read this book and you will be enlightened, enchanted, and enlivened, and you will feel blessed to be living in an era of such teachers.

—Rabbi Irwin Kula, President, National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership

Marie M. Fortune

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This marvelous collection reminds me how much I have learned (and am still learning) from my Jewish sisters. Thank you for sharing your stories and wisdom with us.

—Marie M. Fortune, Founder, FaithTrust Institute

Lauren F. Winner

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When I put this wonderful and wise book down (having read it straight through), I felt an unusual feeling: stirred up, but contemplatively so. Chapters of the Heart is for anyone who wants to find the holy in the ordinary, for anyone who wants to read the sacred texts of her own life with more attentiveness, more generosity, and more curiosity.

—Lauren F. Winner, author of Girl Meets God

Philadelphia Jewish Exponent 23 January 2013

Chapters of the Heart: Retelling Women's Stories

January 23, 2014 By:

Bryan Schwartzman

One writer tells the story of undergoing an emergency hysterectomy before she ever had the chance to have children; another recounts the trauma of seeking an abortion in the early 1970s; a third voice belongs to a mother whose college-age daughter wages a life-and-death battle with an eating disorder.

These stories and 17 others make up Chapters of the Heart, a new collection of essays written by notable Jewish women, including a number of rabbis. Recently published by Cascade Press, the collection was edited by two Philadelphia rabbis, Sue Levi Elwell and Nancy Fuchs Kreimer.


Rabbi Barbara Penzner's Blogpost

Wisdom of the Mothers: Book Review of Chapters of the Heart

I became a rabbi twenty-seven years ago in 1987 at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. I was in a graduating class of four, two women and two men. Though I think of myself as a pioneer, the Jewish feminist movement was already well underway. By 1987, nearly 200 women had been ordained as rabbis by the Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative movements. Beginning in the early 1970s in North America, Jewish feminism had fostered new books, new rituals, new theology, and new leaders.
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Lilith Magazine

How Jewish texts can help women — rabbis included —  through trying transitions


  • Rabbi-editors Sue Levi Elwell and Nancy Fuchs Kreimer invited women rabbis, scholars and activists to share the Jewish texts they have found themselves applying in their own lives. The contributors to Chapters of the Heart: Jewish Women Sharing the Torah of Our Lives (Cascade Books, $26) include Julie Greenberg, Judith Plaskow, Blu Greenberg and Wendy Zierler. Rabbi Hara Person writes of raising a son and finding wisdom in stories of the biblical King David. Rabbi Rachel Adler observes her mother’s cognitive slide into forgetting, and the book of Lamentations is Adler’s benchmark. Rabbi Laura Geller looks back many decades to her divorce, examining it through the lens of Sarah and Abraham setting out on a journey when they were no longer young.

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