cover image The Amen Effect: Ancient Wisdom to Mend Our Broken Hearts and World

The Amen Effect: Ancient Wisdom to Mend Our Broken Hearts and World

Sharon Brous. Avery, $29 (240p) ISBN 978-0-593543-31-3

Rabbi Brous, founder of the justice-driven Jewish spiritual community IKAR, explores in her compassionate debut how to better connect with others in a social climate of widespread division. For Brous, of foremost importance is simply “showing up” for others in hard times, a principle that’s illustrated by a Mishnaic ritual in which pilgrims circled the temple courtyard in one direction and comforted the “grieving, the lonely, the sick,” who were moving in the opposite direction (the practice “awaken[s] us to one another’s humanity,” Brous explains, because “today, you walk from left to right. Tomorrow, it will be me”). Also discussed is the value of showing up for one another in happy moments (sharing good news can be more psychologically beneficial than experiencing the joyous event in the first place, recent research suggests); seeking emotional support when needed; and getting genuinely curious about others, because “when we don’t wonder what [they are] thinking or feeling... our hearts close.” The author’s religious- based principles are anchored by practical tips for conducting “openhearted” conversations with those across the political aisle and helping the bereaved by making meals and providing childcare. Seamlessly mixing rabbinic wisdom, personal anecdotes, and psychology (she discusses compassion fatigue and how mirror neurons facilitate sharing others’ joy), Brous offers readers hope for building bridges. This inspires. (Jan.)