Spiritual food

by | Nov 8, 2013 | Book Reviews

Recipes For A Sacred Life
(True Stories and a Few Miracles)
by Rivvy Neshama
Divine Arts. 2013
239 pages, $16.95

Author and social activist Rivvy Neshama delights us in an inviting conversational style with a feast of spiritual food, nourishing the soul—just as her chosen Hebrew last name reflects. Blessed and burdened by a universal soul and very essence wide enough to encompass the rich and diverse range of religious traditions, this enchanting spiritual seeker and healer is ever eager to find for herself and for us, renewed meaning and uplifting purpose in our uneven human journey.

Neshama’s riveting collection of spiritual recipes in the form of short stories is gently carved out of the joys and struggles of life’s experiences, connecting the varied threads of the human experience into a tapestry that is whole, while harmonizing the many expressions of spiritual yearnings. She chooses to highlight binding commanalities rather than focusing on separating differences. There is satisfying food for every reader’s pallet and no one will walk away hungry from this unique book, rather with worthwhile hunger for more soul food…

We are guaranteed to laugh with Neshama’s larger-than-life father, Bernard Feldman, even as he was dying quite young of emphysema, and we’ll be enlightened by inspiring Native and Sufi traditions that teach us to revere the sacred dimensions of earth and life.

Though Neshama is too large for just one particular heritage to dwell in, she is demonstrably anchored in her own Jewish upbringing with shared deep appreciation for Judaism’s celebrations of life, turning the secular into the sacred and finding the miraculous in the mundane. I beg to differ, though, with a portion of the book’s sub-title which humbly refers to a “Few Miracles.” More than a few miracles are presented and as the Jewish prayer book (Siddur) wisely attests to, we are daily blessed with multiple miracles, which we often take for granted. The stories are accompanied by illuminating quotes from such luminaries as Albert Einstein and Woody Allen.

The incessant Jewish drive for Tikkun Olam’s restoration of life’s broken fragments is courageously manifested in Neshama’s own life’s commitments and choices, including teaching in Harlem along with co-founding and directing transportation alternatives in the challenging urban environment of New York City.

A graduate of Bryn Mawr College with a major in philosophy, Neshama is the author of Nat Turner and the Virginia Slave Revolt, a children’s book. Married to John Wilcockson, a British writer, they live in Boulder and Sag Harbor. This highly recommended new book that is bound to make a difference in one’s life is also available through Amazon and wherever books are sold.

—Rabbi Israel Zoberman is the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Chaverim.