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Freedom Journeys: The Tale of Exodus and Wilderness across Millennia 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-1580234450
ISBN-10: 1580234453
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Editorial Reviews


"It was the Exodus story that undergirded the civil rights movement; but as Arthur Waskow and Phyllis Berman demonstrate in this fascinating book, even Martin Luther King didn't plumb the entire story, which we need now more than ever."
Bill McKibben, author, Eaarth; founder,

"A powerful retracing of the Exodus story that reminds us all of our obligation to move against oppression and toward freedom in our own lives and in our own time. Waskow and Berman bring the iconic Jewish journey into our time, making the fights against evil and the searches for food, for health, for justice and for peace a part of what it means to be a Jew in the twenty-first century. Study is important, the sages say, because it leads to action; this book tells us why and how to put the teachings of our Torah to work building community and creating greater democracy. Waskow and Berman remind us that we are all on our own Freedom Journey. They look into our history and use it as a mirror to reflect on the issues of our day, noting the work of many in the twentieth century who led fights for freedom and suggesting how we should be picking up the challenge."
Ruth W. Messinger, president, American Jewish World Service

“Arthur Waskow and Phyllis Berman are among the most creative interpreters of Torah in the past forty years, and Freedom Journeys is one of the most exciting interpretations of Exodus in contemporary Jewish literature. Combining very personal takes on the text with a profound rereading of traditional commentaries, Waskow and Berman have created a book that should be used at every Seder and in every synagogue in America.”
Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor, Tikkun Magazine,

“The story of Moses, Pharaoh and the Exodus is familiar to Jews, Christians and Muslims, but the familiarity is often superficial. Freedom Journeys encourages us to consider the deeper meanings of this story, and challenges us to apply the understanding we gain to transform and heal our broken relationships with each other and with the rest of creation.”
Sheila Musaji, editor, The American Muslim

“Many of the Hasidim saw the world as God, wrapped in robes of God so as to seem material. Yet they knew that God's Own Self was fractured in the world we live in, and so both world and God need our acts of healing. Today, a new paradigm of a Judaism is emerging that is in harmony with tikkun olam and will help heal that brokenness for all humanity and all our planet. Freedom Journeys helps us to bring to birth a new world as God and our forebears did in the Exodus so long ago.”
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, coauthor, Jewish with Feeling and A Heart Afire

“This collection is a lush tapestry of visionary, incisive and inspiring reflections on the Exodus and Wilderness stories. May Arthur’s and Phyllis’s inspired writing move many to work together for liberation from oppressive structures of our own day, both globally and locally.”
Rabbi Amy Eilberg, Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning; first woman ordained by The Jewish Theological Seminary

“With fresh, bold, insightful interpretations on the well-known Exodus texts, Freedom Journeys, written by two of this generation’s most compelling prophetic voices, eloquently invites us to remember and to rethink how our ancient mission addresses the most urgent crises humanity faces today.”
Rabbi David Saperstein, director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

“The stories of the Israelites’ journey to freedom have inspired Jews, Christians and Muslims throughout the centuries. Waskow and Berman retell the tales yet again, weaving in the voices of fellow travellers, ancient and contemporary, from among the children of Abraham. The result testifies to the incredible enduring power of these narratives, their connection to the lives of men and women confronting the challenges of their own times. The authors answer the question 'Study or action?’ with a resounding 'Yes!’”
Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, associate professor and director of Multifaith Studies and Initiatives, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

“Rabbi Arthur Waskow has spent a lifetime showing, through study and action, how the biblical tradition calls us to a way of living marked by care for the neighbor and care for the earth.In this wonderful little book, he―along with Rabbi Phyllis Berman and several Christian and Muslim colleagues―invites us ‘to relearn and rethink’ the Exodus story in order to grasp its essence as a journey of freedom.In this way, we see the text’s immediate relevance to the pharaohs and plagues of our era.”
Michael Kinnamon, general secretary, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA

“A deep meditation on the timeless―and timely―relevance of the Exodus narrative. In the grand tradition of mystical exegesis, Waskow and Berman reflect upon Exodus not only as an event that happened ‘then’ and ‘there,’ but a paradigm of movement that is happening here and in the now, for all of us, Jew and Muslim, Black and White, male and female. A joyous, wondrous and profound classic.”
Omid Safi, professor of Islamic studies, University of North Carolina; author, Memories of Muhammad

“Provides those who wish to embrace or encounter a liberal reading of the Exodus story the book they have been seeking. In their inimitable words as well as the essays they have collected from Christian, African American, and Muslim writers, Arthur and Phyllis have created a repository of exegesis and interpretation that will offer inventive, very liberal, and innovative pathways to understanding the narratives and midrashim that have been a part of this ongoing and changing story for the past two thousand years.”
Rabbi Steve Gutow, president and CEO, Jewish Council for Public Affairs

“The Exodus is one of the most powerful stories in the Bible, telling of a people’s liberation from captivity to freedom. Waskow and Berman, gifted storytellers in their own right, also show how others see it as an archetype for similar stories in Christianity, Islam, and the southern freedom movement. Freedom Journeys is a book that will be informative and inspiring for those involved in current movements for justice.”
Jim Wallis, president, Sojourners; author, Rediscovering Values

“It is educational to learn of Freedom Journeys of the past, but awe-inspiring when these authors show how they can be experienced by people of all faiths today.”
Laleh Bakhtiar, PhD, first woman translator of the Qur’an

“Brings the Exodus story freshly and powerfully into our contemporary lives, offering a moving Torah of transformation that will undoubtedly impact many hearts and minds alike.”
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, author, Surprised by God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion; editor, The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism

“A prophetic book for the challenges we face in today’s troubled world. Chapter after chapter contains the biblical foundation for addressing poverty, care of the earth and living in peace together on this fragile planet as brothers and sisters. I recommend this book of universal wisdom to people of all faith traditions.”
Bob Edgar, president, Common Cause; former general secretary, National Council of Churches; former president, Claremont School of Theology; former member, United States House of Representatives

“Opens the way to fresh, rich and challenging readings of biblical tales of exodus and exile, return and reconsecration. Join these wise guides on this spiritual journey and experience the text renewed and illuminated by their brilliant interpretations and deep immersion in stories that cross boundaries and bring together all who value and seek freedom. You will be richly rewarded.”
Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, PhD, union rabbi and worship specialist, Union for Reform Judaism

About the Author

Rabbi Arthur O. Waskow is recognized as one of the leading thinkers of the Jewish renewal movement. He has been at the forefront of creating Jewish renewal theory, practice and institutions. He founded and directs The Shalom Center, and is a Pathfinder of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, an international network. He is founder and editor of the journal New Menorah, and helped found the Fabrangen Cheder and the National Havurah Committee. His previous books include Godwrestling; Godwrestling―Round 2: Ancient Wisdom, Future Paths, which was named "Best Religion Book of the Year"; The Freedom Seder; Seasons of Our Joy; Freedom Journeys: The Tale of Exodus and Wilderness across Millennia; Torah of the Earth: Exploring 4,000 Years of Ecology in Jewish Thought, Vol. 1: Biblical Israel and Rabbinic Judaism; Torah of the Earth: Exploring 4,000 Years of Ecology in Jewish Thought, Vol. 2: Zionism and Eco-Judaism and Down-to-Earth Judaism. He is the co-editor of Trees, Earth, Torah: A Tu B'Shvat Anthology (Jewish Publication Society).

He and his wife, Phyllis Berman, who is also a leader of Jewish renewal, often join to speak, teach new forms of prayer and lead retreats and workshops in many Jewish and interreligious settings. Together they wrote Tales of Tikkun: New Jewish Stories to Heal the Wounded World.

Waskow lives in the Philadelphia area. He has two grown children of his own, is "associate parent" for two others and has one son-in-law and one daughter-in-law.

Rabbi Arthur O. Waskow is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Freedom Journeys across Millennia
  • Jewish Wisdom on the Earth and Human Earthlings
  • Praying with Our Legs: Social Action Rooted in Spiritual Commitment
  • Transformative Judaism
  • The Flow of Jewish Time

Click here to contact the author.

Rabbi Phyllis O. Berman is coauthor, with Rabbi Waskow, of A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven: The Jewish Life-Spiral as a Spiritual Path and Freedom Journeys: The Tale of Exodus and Wilderness Across Millennia (Jewish Lights). Rabbi Berman is the program director of Elat Chayyim, a Jewish retreat center for healing, and coauthor of Tales of Tikkun: New Jewish Stories to Heal the Wounded World. Berman founded in 1978 and now directs the Riverside Language
Program, an intensive English-language school for adult immigrants and refugees from around the world. With her husband, Arthur Ocean Waskow, she lives in Philadelphia, and she shares four grown children, one son-in-law, and one daughter-in-law.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights; 1 edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580234453
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580234450
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,193,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
People who accept every biblical statement as true and those who insist that episodes such as the Israelite exodus from Egypt never occurred can learn much from the Passover story. Every age and every people had its Pharaoh, slave-like oppression, and need for a Moses and deliverance. The authors show how the Passover story, the tyrannical slavery and the exodus to freedom, is a paradigm for many other similar situations among other nations and within the personal lives of individuals. They give many examples and discuss what we can learn from them today. They see the exodus story as a call to every generation for action. "Looking at the world today, we see the whole human race, the whole planet in a crisis that dwarfs any crisis before. Several elements of that crisis remind us of the archetypal tale of Pharaoh, the exodus, the transformative experience of Sinai, and the struggle to shape a new kind of community."

For the Passover story is not restricted to Jews. The biblical prophet Amos said in 9:7, "Are the children of Israel not just like the children of Ethiopia? Haven't I brought up Israel from the land of Egypt, the Philistines from Kaphtor, and Aram from Kir?"

The authors discuss examples from biblical tales, historical incidences, and current events. They retell biblical events in a realistic, non-miraculous, often passionate, always thought-provoking manner. Thus, for instance, after complaining to Moses that they lacked sufficient food, the Israelites found something they had never seen before. They queried Moses, "Mahn hu (what is that)? ... Moses told them it was the food that they were so badly wanting. Every day, the manna fell. The people learned to gather just enough to meet their needs for one more day.
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I looked forward to reading this book because: 1. I myself am the author of a book on Exodus (finding in the Moses-Pharaoh story a metaphor for the spiritual journey back to God), and 2. Arthur Waskow's "Seasons of Our Joy" is one of my favorite books; I consider it essential reading for anyone interested in Judaism and its cycle of holidays. Therefore, I was hoping for some deep insights into the nature of Exodus to add to those I've discovered on my own. Sadly, the commentary was more political and present-day focused, rather superficial and obvious. Hence, disappointing.
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