The Choosing – A Rabbi’s Journey from Silent Nights to High Holy Days by Andrea Myers is a lesbian’s spiritual sojourn. She shares her coming out journey starting as a Christian then converting to Judaism and its impact on her family. It’s done with love, compassion, much humor, and deep reflection.
The book, “explores what it means to survive, and to flourish, on your own terms.” Rabbi Myers, ordained at the Academy for Jewish Religion, writes that it meant leaving her Christian “upbringing, coming out as a lesbian, converting to Judaism, and becoming a rabbi.” If you enjoy good story telling then you’ll love this book. There is wisdom here. It is the wisdom of life and living.
Unlike most books, it doesn’t have a beginning or end. It’s an ongoing conversation. It’s a deceptively easy read because Rabbi Myers is a skilled and artful craftsman of the written word. Each chapter is a self-contained jewel.
She writes of making the best of any situation with “humor and creativity and grace.” The Rabbi writes of finding “elegant solutions to practical problems.” There is mysticism in how she embraces the world.
Rabbi Myers, a member of the New York Board of Rabbis, has a universal spiritual perspective. Yes, she converted to Judaism, but she is an “old soul” with external beauty. Her stories draw you in. You become part of her world. Although gentile-born and raised, she has a sweet, genuine Jewish soul who makes you smile as you turn the pages. Rabbi Myers has a witty, gentle, and loving sense of humor. It often reminded me of the comedic brilliance of Ellen DeGeneres.
She invites you to have a conversation, perhaps a debate with God. God wants to converse with you. God wants to hear from you. God’s mind can be changed. God hears and listens. She “fell in love with a religion that focused on questions, not answers.” She tells readers to realize “a world that is both tragic and funny, in which terror and beauty often are very close.”
Live it all. In tragedy something good and positive can be found. This is from a woman who “had meager spiritual aspirations and few personal dreams. But I did miss God. As a child, on some level I frequently felt in the presences of something larger than myself …”
She teaches that “there is a way for people to coexist …” It is because we are all part of the same “dysfunctional” but “real” family. Sitting together as a family will not “be easy. But it will be worthwhile. Bring all of who you are to the table and see what happens.”
Family is the central theme. “Old stories and new beginnings, integration and transformation,” she writes. Family and friends who come to the meal table lose their differences. Rabbi Myers writes that “labels fade when they are reflected in the faces of the ones we love. The stories take center stage. This is what family does.”
It doesn’t matter your faith. It is “chicken soup for the soul.” There are many lessons in the book. One of several burned in my mind includes, “[N]ever be afraid of smallmindedness.” Good story tellers are great teachers. Rabbi Myers is a wise and great teacher who tells awesome stories with mysticism, wonderment, and Godliness.
*Paul Jesep writes the “Faith, Family, and God” column for The Rainbow Times.