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."
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.
Weekly Starred Review, Jan 30, 2008
Weekly Author Profile:
"Adventure Rabbi" Leads People into God's Country
by Marcia Z. Nelson, Religion BookLine -- Publishers
From ski bum
to rabbi has made one interesting journey, spiritually and literally,
for Jamie Korngold, author of the forthcoming God
in the Wilderness: Rediscovering the Spirituality of the Great Outdoors
with the Adventure Rabbi (Three Leaves/Doubleday, April;
starred review in this issue). A Reform rabbi, Korngold began the
Adventure Rabbi program in 2001 as a way of uniting her love of
the outdoors with outreach to those American Jews who were more
likely to be outside a synagogue than in one. The Adventure Rabbi
program, which has brought Shabbat services and scripture study
to ski slopes and mountain meadows, was the next logical leap of
faith for a woman whose eclectic resume includes a cross-country
bicycle trip when she was a teenager, a summer job as an outdoor
musician in Sapporo, Japan, and fourth place in a national telemark
mogul skiing championship. "It started out as my little dream,"
said Korngold, who lives in the Rocky Mountain foothills of Boulder,
Colo., with her husband and two children, one of whom is an infant.
"I sometimes feel like I just jumped in front of the parade."
In her book,
Korngold argues that religion began outdoors. The Bible is filled
with stories of divine encounter and worship in the wilderness.
Her book draws lessons from those stories as well as her own experience
as an endurance athlete. She wrote it during a summer, when her
schedule includes leading regular outdoor hikes. "Each of the
chapters got discussed on hikes," she said. "It all got
field tested." The book is itself small, so it can be tucked
into a backpack.
includes the growing Adventure Rabbi community, which is virtual
but also real, taking the form of small groups of people in various
cities interested in Judaism and the outdoors. People make both
spiritual and social connections, finding like-minded others. A
group in New York began in 2006. "There are so many people
hungry for this type of learning and community," Korngold said.
God in the Wilderness publishes April 8, shortly before Korngold
leads a Passover retreat for a seder meal in the desert outside
Moab, Utah. "We already have 65 people signed up," she