"...an engaging account of an otherwise hardly known chapter in American Jewish history."--CHOICE
"Ellen Umansky's fascinating account of the Jewish Science movement in America explains how and why the promise of health and well-being proved attractive to so many thousands of Jews in the past century--and still does today. The book also examines the remarkable personalities who built and led Jewish Science--including Tehilla Lichtenstein, an inspiring figure who stood at the head of the movement for thirty-five years. Umansky has written a thorough, highly readable, and extremely relevant study of an aspect of American Judaism too long neglected by scholars and community leaders."--Arnold M. Eisen, author of Rethinking Modern Judaism: Ritual, Commandment, Community
"This carefully researched and sensitive book rescues from near oblivion the principal figures of an overlooked corner of early twentieth-century American Judaism, showing that an apparent historical detour can be the harbinger of a significant long-range trend. Reacting to the attraction of some Jews to Christian Science, three Reform rabbis developed a position called Jewish Science, emphasizing how Jewish prayer and faith in God can contribute to mental and physical well-being. Umansky's portrait of Tehilla Lichtenstein, the widow of one of the rabbis and the first female spiritual leader of a Jewish congregation in the U.S., is particularly entrancing. Umansky puts this tiny movement in its broader historical context, the interaction of psychology and religion, which included such well-known figures as Norman Vincent Peale. This book is required reading for anyone interested in the recent upsurge of Jewish spirituality."--Robert M. Seltzer, author of Jewish People, Jewish Thought
"With the skill of a consummate detective, Ellen Umansky uncovers in this volume a forgotten chapter in the history of American Judaism. Her narrative brings to life a wide range of fascinating characters, Orthodox and Reform, men and women alike. It sheds light on everything from the Jewish response to Christian Science to the contemporary movement of Jewish healing, and from pastoral psychology to modern feminism. Brilliantly researched and full of surprises."--Jonathan D. Sarna, author of American Judaism: A History
"Serves as an intimate and revealing history of a contemporary movement that owed its vitality to a small group of women and men committed to rediscovering the spiritual resources that they believed had always been at the center of Judaism. Among the greatest strengths of Umansky's book are the illuminating portraits (informed by numerous interviews) that she weaves throughout her narrative."--American Historical Review
About the Author
Ellen M. Umansky is at Fairfield University.