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God in the Wilderness: Rediscovering the Spirituality of the Great Outdoors with the Adventure Rabbi Paperback – April 8, 2008

4.9 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Rabbi Korngold revels in nature, and she seeks to share that joy as founder of the Adventure Rabbi program to help people reconnect to Judaism via the great outdoors. She has also discovered a way—call it a language, a spirit, an essence—with which to express the simplicity of a back-to-basics spirituality. Balancing an in-depth knowledge of scripture with a wry sense of humor and a compassion for nature, Korngold reminds us of the nooks and crannies of the natural world and says that we must seek them out, soak them in and care for them. The variety of personal stories, tales of travel with various Adventure Rabbi groups and contemporary alternative biblical outcomes—what if Moses had been too busy texting to notice the burning bush?—make for a book that is easily digestible but at the same time worth savoring. Purposely sized to fit easily into a backpack or pocket, the call to return to the wild—or at least your local city park—is ever present. While certainly aimed at adventuresome readers, the book's message, filled with depictions of fire, water, earth and sky, simultaneously encourages individual exploration and communal responsibility. (Apr. 8)
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Review

Advance Praise for God in the Wilderness:

“This book speaks to people of all faiths who have a hunger for reconnecting with the God of their own understandings and traditions.”
—Trudy Harris, R.N., author of Glimpses of Heaven

“A small book with powerful messages … Interpreting biblical passages and centuries of commentary, Rabbi Korngold shows how each of us can find the spiritual meaning we seek by slowing down, going outdoors, and exulting in the grandeur of nature.”
—Myra H. Strober, professor of education, Stanford University

“Weaving ancient teachings with personal and profound experiences in the wilderness, Rabbi Korngold provides a wonderful trail map for each of our journeys. She leads us to an appreciation of the joy that awaits us if we commit to walking in the natural world that is God’s gift.”
—Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein, Central Synagogue, New York City
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony (April 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385520492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385520492
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #483,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael D. Comins on April 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
Two people look at a redwood tree. One sees an incredible, living being; the other, a new backyard deck. The difference is found in the attitudes and virtues that inform our vision. Because they miss this basic point, most attempts to understand how wilderness can affect one's spiritual life fall short. Not so Rabbi Korngold, who clearly lives her subject matter. She organizes her book around the virtues of wilderness spirituality: mindfulness, awe, Sabbath rest and more. This book is excellent for people who know they feel something special in the natural world, but don't know why this is so, or what to do with it. It's small in the backpack, and big in the heart. Mike Comins, founder of TorahTrek, author of A Wild Faith: Jewish Ways into Wilderness, Wilderness Ways into Judaism
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This book is a quick and engaging read, with an abiding passion for everything wild, and very good for certain audiences. If you are a disconnected or disaffected Jew who likes the outdoors, _God in the Wilderness_ is written for you. Consider this a five-star review. Non-Jews seeking to build an ecumenical outlook and non-religious readers trying to connect to the deeper meaning of the world may also find much of value. Korngold makes a few key aspects of Judaism accessible to novice readers through the vehicle of wilderness appreciation. She also tells a few stories that will touch any reader with a heart.

On the other hand, if you have already thought deeply about Judaism, about wilderness, and about the connection between the two, and now seek to expand your understanding, go elsewhere. You will likely find this book to be superficial, aside from the handful of moving stories I just mentioned. Consider this a two-star review.
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I first experienced this joyful little writing in a book club at our synagogue. I absolutely loved it from page one to the end. All of Rabbi Korngold's words make perfect sense and actually are parallel to my own convictions and beliefs. I will always keep this book in my collection, and will give it as a gift whenever I have an opportunity! Will be ordering any future writings by the same author!
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God in the Wilderness: Rediscovering the Spirituality of the Great Outdoors with the Adventure Rabbi, would seem to have a very narrow focus – the outdoors. Not all of us run marathons or cross country ski as Rabbi Korngold does. But we have all reveled in the blue of the sky and longed for the quiet of a gentle stream. Many of us may have also wondered if the traditional synagogue service model is right for us, if the spirituality we desperately seek might be in another form or place. Rabbi Korngold suggests that that other form or place is G-d’s original creation, heaven and earth, and that Judaism has always emphasized nature as the meeting place between G-d and people.
The Torah, she reminds us, is rife with stories of men and women discovering holiness and encountering G-d “b’midbar” – in the wilderness: Moses and the burning bush, Jacob wrestling with the angel/man at the River Jabbock, the Israelites receiving the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. They all listened to that “still, small voice” that Elijah once heard, a voice that is difficult to make out in the noise and crash of modern life.
Concise and easy to digest, each chapter in God in the Wilderness offers avenues, all grounded in Jewish tradition, for the disaffected or bored or frustrated seeker to find that still, small voice. Her ideas are not necessary revolutionary -- slow down long enough to see and hear the beauty around you; rediscover awe even in life’s small miracles; find some way to observe Shabbat; don’t try to be perfect; and of course, be G-d’s partner in safeguarding the earth. But her prescriptions intermingle the glory and beauty of nature with the ancient wisdom of Judaism, suggesting that our first step toward renewal may only be to turn off our cell phone and walk outside our front door. #Readukkah
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Rabbi Korngold's lessons are wonderful and so vital. After reading this, I felt an immediate desire to take a walk outside and reconnect with the world around me. We should all take her advice to find peace and meaning in our lives. Her personal stories and sense of humor makes this easy and fun reading. Anyone, regardless of his or her religion, can and should learn from Rabbi Korngold. I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone!
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I grew up Catholic and went through the motions until I realized that so much in the Church didn't resonate with me, and I enjoyed hiking and camping and running/walking on my hometown's nature trails so much more. My outdoor pursuits, especially a pivotal camping trip in the Utah Backcountry left me with a connection to myself, to nature, to the universe even more so than any mass or ceremony behind stained glass windows had ever attempted. I found the divine spark in nature, and tried to reconcile the better texts and wisdoms from the church in light of what supported that. I also looked to other traditions, like Buddhism & Taoism, for a richer understanding of the holy wow. I never thought to look to Judaism for the same wisdoms & connection to the earth - even though the New Testament is chock full of natural revelations of the divine, of divine revelations in nature. Not to mention rituals and holidays/ceremonies that have been born of natural events, circumstances and phenomena. And who hasn't arrived at peace of mind (and bliss) after a walk or hike or zephyr-like run? The way that Rabbi Korngold meshes these two (at first) seemingly disparate traditions - that of Judaism and outdoor recreation - is a natural step back to a less disparate and separating understanding of ourselves in the world.
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