To Begin Again: The Journey Toward Comfort, Strength, and Faith in Difficult Times

Naomi Levy, Author Alfred A. Knopf $23 (267p) ISBN 978-0-375-40003-2
Levy's debut offers a progressive Jewish approach to coping with life's darker moments. Having faced the murder of her father when she was 15, Levy joined the first class of women to study at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Drawing on her own suffering and her experience as a rabbi, she constructs a map for personal renewal in the tradition of Harold Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Initially, Levy deals with misfortune and addresses what can be done in the aftermath of a loss. Learning to face sadness and to share one's pain are essential elements in the author's understanding of recovery. Further on, through stories about her family and members of her congregation, Levy details how adversity can be a positive force, leading people to open their hearts to God. She doesn't promise simple solutions, however. Her last chapters illustrate how pain can be a permanent part of life, and how coping is an ongoing process. Though Levy offers much constructive wisdom, some of the stories she presents seem stretched to fit her message. Characters cry at just the right cue and various prescriptions seem to work in just the right way in nearly every episode she describes. But even if pat at times, Levy's treatise offers helpful ideas in a neatly organized fashion, as her deep experience and knack for colorful storytelling bring life to a somber subject. 75,000 first printing. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998
Release date: 09/01/1998
Genre: Religion
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-00-727775-9
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-345-41383-3
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