Blog and News

Ancient Prayer Trade Edition Out Today!

Posted by on Jan 5, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Exciting news, the trade edition of Ancient Prayer is out today, January 5, 2016, which means that you can walk into just about any bookstore or place that sells books and pick up a copy. And in really fun news, Ancient Prayer is also the #1 New Release in the Prayer category on Amazon.com....

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Would You Take Time To Pray During a Zombie Apocalypse?

Posted by on Aug 31, 2015 in Faith, God, The Journey | 0 comments

If you’ve been watching The Walking Dead* spin-off Fear The Walking Dead (which my DVR can’t keep straight, but that’s a post for a different blog), you’ll have seen pivotal scenes in the first episode taking place in a seemingly desecrated church. And in yesterday’s episode you’ll probably have noticed the candles, altar, and rosary beads prominently featured and in use by new to us character Griselda, (Patricia Reyes Spindola). Though the characters are unsure of just what’s going on in the world outside, there’s a sense of chaos, panic and a feeling of being trapped and throughout it all, Griselda kneels and prays. At the end of the episode, she portentously blows out her prayer candles. In an interview with FTWD showrunner Dave Erickson on The Hollywood Reporter he talks about Griselda’s prayer during the madness: She is a devout Catholic and she’s finding some degree of solace and peace in that moment and it’s important to note that behind her, Daniel (Ruben Blades) her husband is not. They’re very different. He had religion at one point and lost it and in that scene, Ruben had a note because things were falling apart outside, he said Daniel should be looking at his insurance policy so props had to generate something. He’s taking the practical route and looking for and trying to figure out what’s going to happen if his business is damaged. He’s looking to a legal remedy and she’s looking to religion. We all deal with fear, sadness and cataclysmic life events in our own ways. Some turn to prayer, some turn away. Some turn to printed words of insurance instead of reassurance. But in the end, we all are just trying to get through and perhaps retain even the slightest amount of control of a situation when all control is lost. * You can read some of my interviews with Walking Dead costume designer Eulyn Womble on The Guardian, Jezebel.com and Parade.com. Buy an advance copy of the trade edition of Ancient Prayer now or the original...

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Shabbat Shalom, Doctor Sacks

Posted by on Aug 30, 2015 in Faith, God, News, The Journey | 0 comments

Despite the sadness of the last few posts, I’m hoping that when I blog here, however sporadically, it will be about the joyful side of faith and journey to renewal and belief. That said, it hit me kind of hard to hear that Oliver Sacks, internationally renowned neurologist and author passed away this morning. More than his books or the films based on his life, it was his op-ed in the New York Times last week that made me feel part of the poignant journey he was going through as he chronicled his journey toward death. In his essay, Sacks revealed details about his childhood including the fact that his mother was one of 18 siblings and that both of his parents had Orthodox Jewish upbringings. He also discussed his own Orthodox childhood, the specter of the Holocaust, keeping of the Sabbath (or Shabbos as he called it, as did my family) and his painful alienation from both his mother and his faith. The details of his life differ drastically from my own, yet the similarities and nostalgia sometimes overlap. As a cancer survivor, I had my own copious crises of faith over the years. Yet the notion of Shabat, or Sabbath or Shabbos as a day of rest, mostly shut off from the external world was always something that I came back to, albeit not with the same stringencies I was raised with. I wrote about it in Ancient Prayer and have been more forthcoming to friends and colleagues about my need to cocoon and recharge for at least one day each hectic week. I wept as I reread the last paragraph of Sacks’s essay: And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest. Maybe it’s because it’s so close to the passing of my own beloved father, himself a concentration camp survivor, and because the memories of my childhood sabbaths are always so strong. Or maybe it’s because I, too, knew the terror of cancer and the desperate craving for reprieve from the monster within. Or maybe it’s because like most people of faith, I struggle mightily with what I do or do not believe in high contrast to what I was raised with. Whatever the reasons, Sacks’s last months and death hit me deep. I am certain that he is at peace now, and I hope someplace he will find his own version Sabbath and final time of...

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Back to Blogging…

Posted by on Aug 16, 2015 in Faith, News, The Journey | 0 comments

Not to get ahead of myself, since Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year is still weeks away, but I’m looking forward to seeing the back of 5775* (much as I adore palindromes, numerical or otherwise). About last year at this time my father  David encouraged me to start blogging in anticipation of Ancient Prayer hitting Barnes and Noble bookstores. Much as he helped me with the writing of the book, my father assured me that he’d be there to help me research topics for posts. But my father isn’t here anymore. He passed away in early June. So here I am sobbing as I type this, thinking that I’ll never be able to post anything worth reading without his insights and invaluable input. But I know it would make him happy and proud if I post, so post I shall. Or at least I’ll try. My father was the most brilliant man that I’ve ever met and I hope that I’ll be able to incorporate some of his ideas and favorite topics into upcoming posts. And I really hope to keep making him proud. I miss you so much Ta, I’m just hoping that you’ll be here with me in spirit as I try to share some of the things we’ve talked about over the years. Here’s to 5776! *The Jewish calendar is lunar based and predates the Western or Gregorian Calendar by 3760 years– give or take a...

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Nu, God? Taking Inspiration from Ben Lee’s Spiritual Path

Posted by on Jul 6, 2015 in Faith, God, The Journey | 0 comments

It’s been a very difficult few months/year for me, one filled with almost too much loss to process, much less write about. Perhaps I’ll write about it at some point, for now though, I’m taking hope and inspiration where I can find it. One of the sources of great inspiration for me today was a post musician Ben Lee shared on his personal Facebook page. I’ve long been a fan of Lee’s music  (and quoted him in my first book Hello Gorgeous! Beauty Products in America 40s-60s, which will be reissued later this year) and have been intrigued with his ever evolving, semi-public  journey through spirituality. In an excerpt from a new interview with the actress Rose Byrne in Magnet Magazine, Lee talks about his particular spiritual path. I was so struck by some of what he said that I felt the need to push myself to start very slowly writing again about matters of spirituality and faith. Lee graciously allowed me to share some of his more personal musings here. In sharing news about his interview with Byrne, Lee mentions sharing publicly for the first time about: …”Parting ways with my spiritual teacher of 10 years. I kept private about this until this point as I did not want to create controversy or drama, or disturb other people’s process.” I’ve been thinking about that a lot, since there are so many memoirs and articles about people who have lost their faith or parted ways with their former gurus or rabbis or spiritual leaders. For me at least, faith is so deeply personal that I can’t imagine it defined by anyone else’s description. And conversely, defining my evolved or deeply personal belief based on what I choose to reject feels equally false. The part that struck me the most deeply though, is when Lee said: “But the ultimate goal I began to believe, and continue to believe, is in an infinite experience of newness. God is always new.” That last line hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. Over the past 5 years, in trying to reclaim my faith after a bout with cancer, the very recent loss of a loved one,  and the dissolution of a major relationship, I’ve found myself questioning any description of any God– much less the all-encompassing deity I was raised with. With great loss, come great big questions and doubts. But for today at least, a glimmer. If I accept the notion that God is always new, then my belief can be exactly as it is supposed to be for right now. And right now is all that matters. Putting one foot in front of the other, remembering how to live and believe and find my imperfect faith and relationship with my God. FYI, I’ll be interviewing Ben Lee about his new album Love is the Great Rebellion and matters of faith for one of my outlets. Stay tuned!...

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Ancient Prayer to be released as a Trade Book

Posted by on Apr 21, 2015 in News | 0 comments

I’ve got some really exciting news!! The trade division of Sterling Publishing will be releasing Ancient Prayer to the general marketplace this Fall. So that means that instead of being a Barnes & Noble exclusive, my book will be available wherever books are sold (!!!!!!). Ancient Prayer will also be promoted at Book Expo America at the end of May, and at the London Book Fair. For anyone who has wondered why they couldn’t find Ancient Prayer in their local book store or on Amazon.com, it will be on store (and virtual) bookshelves everywhere this...

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Rachel on JM in the AM with Nachum Segal

Posted by on Mar 4, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It’s nearly Purim and to almost celebrate, Rachel chatted with Nachum Segal on his morning radio show JM in the AM. Nachum is such a good host and the interview was a lot of fun! Thanks again, Nachum! Listen here http://bit.ly/1Eh4iZG

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Taking time to connect with yourself when job hunting…

Posted by on Jan 21, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Rachel was quoted on MainStreet.com about yoga, meditation and other ways to reconnect with your spiritual side while searching for a job.

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Coming out…about your faith

Posted by on Jan 2, 2015 in News, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Rachel was quoted in the Chicago Tribune about coming out about long-held secrets. In this case, her Orthodox background and upbringing. Read more here.

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Interview with Rachel: Jewish Books for Kids

Posted by on Oct 30, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Barbara Bietz interviewed Rachel for her wonderful blog, Jewish Books for Kids. Read the full interview here.

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