New Book Inspires with Deep, Personal Story of Return to Yiddishkeit



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    New Book Inspires with Deep, Personal Story of Return to Yiddishkeit

    The book “God Said What?! #MyOrthodoxLife” is now trending as a #1 New Release in Kabbalah & Mysticism and Women & Judaism. We sat down for an exclusive interview with its author Miriam Racquel (Meryl) Feldman  Full Interview

    Interview with Miriam Racquel (Meryl) Feldman, author of God Said What?! #MyOrthodoxLife. The book is now trending as a #1 New Release in Kabbalah & Mysticism and Women & Judaism!

    Interviewer: What compelled you to write your memoir?

    Miriam Racquel: I felt inspired to share my baalas teshuva story because whenever I’ve told my story to others, young or old, faith-based or secular, Jewish or non-Jewish, they find the tale inspiring. It seems to serve as a bridge, opening up a world that may be unfamiliar to people and yet it ignites discussions on meaningful issues, such as G-d, the purpose of life, and relationships. And because my teshuva journey took place during the early 90’s when the Rebbe spoke every night about Moshiach, and Crown Heights was on fire with Geulah energy, my soul is very connected to doing what I can to reveal this as a reality. It took me 8 years to write it, and I’m thrilled with the positive feedback and the enlightened effect it is having on others.

    Interviewer: Everyone has their unique story. What is one thing that makes your journey unique?

    Miriam Racquel: I actually believe that there are many pieces of my story that make it very unique but in honor of not spoiling anything for the readers, I’ll share just one. I was a very happy young graduate from Grinnell College, an extremely liberal school that sits amidst the cornfields of Iowa, at the time living in Berkeley, California when I received a 13-page letter from my ex-boyfriend, David. We had attended college together and were both secular and in alignment with the liberal academic atmosphere of the school. David had not yet graduated and had taken a junior year abroad to Europe, though the letter was addressed from Israel. I was very confused by some of the things that he shared in the letter, including that he was learning in some kind of school called a yeshiva. Since I still cared for him, I looked up “rabbi” in the Berkely phone book (before Google!) and promptly took myself to meet him in his office. It came as a complete shock to me when the rabbi said that David was actually in a cult and that I should jump on a plane and get him out before he was totally lost. The rest is history—or the story as I’ve told in my memoir.

    Interviewer: What was your childhood like in terms of your connection with Judaism?

    Miriam Racquel: I was pretty disconnected. And confused about what Judaism actually was. I wasn’t raised religious and yet, my family firmly referred to themselves as Jewish. That’s where some of the confusion came in—if Judaism is a religion and we weren’t religious then why call ourselves Jewish? Maybe Judaism was a culture? But I felt myself as part of the American culture. These were questions that I sometimes toyed with but then came to the comfortable conclusion that I was just a regular American. When anyone asked me what I was, I would avoid saying that I was Jewish. My mother had enrolled me in Sunday school but I found it boring and so that didn’t help much in terms of forming a Jewish identity. I think this part of my history, many Jews can unfortunately relate to. A confusion around being Jewish and a discomfort with what that reference means. I did like to study the Holocaust but it was always from the perspecitve that being Jewish meant persecution not pride or wellbeing. And one of the conclusions I came to from my Holocaust studies was that if there was more mixing between people then no one would want to kill anyone. It was just a matter of being friends with each other and lessening differences.

    I even studied in Germany and hoped that I was helping to create a more peaceful world by mixing with Germans, though some of my family had been killed in the Holocaust. As you can see, I was quite confused.

    Interviewer: Wow. I see that you really did have quite a journey.

    Miriam Racquel: Yes. My inherent beliefs and what I thought I knew to be true was challenged greatly. Little did I know. And I wrote the memoir from my 23-year old perspective and bring the reader along for that ride. There were many twists and turns, and the readers get to experience that in their own way. I’ve gotten beautiful feedback from both non-Jewish and Jewish readers of all levels of observance that the memoir does infact succeed in this. Here’s what one reader has shared in her Amazon review:

    “I picked this book up on the recommendation from a friend and once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. Miriam’s memoir of her journey to find faith in God’s love and the wisdom of the Torah is set to the backdrop of connecting to romantic love. The way she wrote about her struggles to find and accept faith, it felt as if she was pulling me right along with her and I was somehow blessed with a piece of her hard earned wisdom. While I am not of Jewish faith, I felt deeply connected to what she shared. And in the final chapter, her call for everyone of all faiths to do what we can to allow love to transform the world into a place of peace. It is just the salve I feel the world needs right now for deep healing.”

    Interviewer: That’s quite beautiful. What crowd is the book geared for?

    Miriam Racquel: God Said What?! appeals to many different crowds. For Lubavitchers, it is exciting to see the detailed events of nun-aleph and beis through the lens of fresh baalas teshuva. For others, it portrays an interesting look into the world of Chabad and Orthodox Judaism. And for some, the incredible shidduch story is what captivates.

    My intention in writing this book was that the concepts would be understood by people of all faiths as well as levels of religious observance. Moshiach and Geulah are for everyone and as the Rebbe reiterated over and over again, the world is ready. I went on faith that the world is eager and thirsty to hear everything that I wanted to convey about Torah true Judaism. I share topics that in various circles would be considered controversial. Since it is a memoir of my personal spiritual awakening, there are stories, humor, and famous personalities who influenced my journey. Also, I did a lot of historical research to ensure that my recollections and memories of what actually happened in Crown Heights were very accurate.

    It’s also a wonderful book for people curious about Judaism—whether they are Jewish or not. It makes a great read for those making their own transition to becoming more observant of their Jewish faith. It would be wonderful for shluchim to have this book to share with their congregants and students as well as to get it into the hands of family members and friends of those who are becoming more religious.

    In the atmosphere of today, the memoir is an easy way to get crucial information to the youth in particular because society is so confusing bringing such mixed messages about important life topics. I had originally named the book, God Said What?! A Tale of Faith, Miracles and Prophecy, but when #myorthodoxlife started to trend on social media I changed the title and hopped aboard that train. I’d love to get the book in as many hands as possible because the Netflix series called Unorthodox spreads misconceptions about Orthodoxy and Judaism and what a shame that is. Jews have such a rich and eternal heritage and what a gift it is for us to be aware and familiar with it. As you can see from my story, ignorance abounded and I was lucky to have made the journey that I did. It was extra challenging because Torah felt so foreign to me. My book is an opportunity to learn Jewish wisdom in an appealing, non threatening, and totally comprehensible way.

    I also wanted to bring hope to the world since it can feel so dark and people are feeling lost, confused, and scared about where the world is headed. The reader is taken on a journey of hope and inspiration in which the words of the Rambam are being fulfilled: “There will be neither famine nor war, neither envy nor strife, because goodness will flow in abundance and all delightful things will be as available as dust. The occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G-d).” The feedback that I’ve received from people of various faiths reveals a love of the message that we are all on this journey together, working towards the same goal. As you can see from the Amazon review, the reader felt that on a very deep level.

    Interviewer: You mentioned that the book is #1 New Release in Kabbalah & Mysticism and Women & Judaism. How did that happen?

    Miriam Racquel: I’ve been a somatic healer/coach for many years and my multiple and various trainings have brought me into contact with so many different types of people from around the world. I post daily about somatic/mindbody/trauma healing as well as about spirituality on Facebook. People from all walks of life love and appreciate these posts because not only is it unifying, but they learn things they didn’t know. I also have an international coaching business and my clients are from everywhere. The writings and articles I share in many different venues have a far reach as well.

    My husband is a marriage and family therapist and tweets marriage and relationship advice daily to his 20,000 followers. Again, the world is so ready to hear wisdom—all we have to do is open our eyes and share the words people are so thirsty for. We both get thanked daily for this wisdom that we share that is Torah based.

    Interviewer: Thank you so much. Is there anything else that you would like to share?

    Miriam Racquel: Yes! At a certain point, I really felt that the book was complete and wanted to get it out into the world immediately. From a young age, I’ve always been very pained by the suffering in the world and I hoped to help reveal the Geula shleima with this project. There were many obstacles and no matter how strongly I tried, obstacles kept preventing it from being released. I was aiming for January of this year and then February, but to no avail. I kept myself as calm as possible with the mantra that “Hashem has a date for this book.” At some point it felt that no matter what I did, it looked like Hashem was aiming for Purim. And that’s exactly what happened! On the morning of Purim, I received the good news that the book was up and published. I couldn’t stop dancing for days! It was a total Purim daybreak miracle. I see beauty in that.

    I also wanted to share that in the midst of editing my memoir, I paused and put it down for a year. In that space of time, I wrote a second book that I felt compelled towards. I can share the title here with you though it will probably change: Keeping The Faith With Joy Of Heart: A Guide For The Baalas Teshuvah. I wrote it in the way of letters, taking the woman who is becoming more observant through different life stages: transition, community, dating, marriage, parenting, and career. I’ve published some of these letters as articles on Chabad.org.

    I had the misconception that once I had made the illuminating, yet difficult transition to Orthodox observance, that life would fall into place. But of course it wasn’t as easy as I imagined it would be. This is true for many Baalas teshuvah whom I’ve spoken to over the years. I wanted to ease these life stages for other women no matter what their age or where they are on their journey. It is also for those born to frum families because I share mindbody/somatic healing tips and wisdom to truly help every woman. I plan on publishing this work within the year, G-d willing.

    The memoir makes a great gift for husbands to give their wives for Pesach! And to give to not-yet-observant family and friends, students, and congregants. Also, for Bnei Noah and nonJews wanting to make a difference in the world and get a message of hope.

    The book can be purchased here.

    398

    1. Yossef

      Looks like an incredible book!
      Probably end up buying it as a gift for a friend’s birthday.

      Do you guys have any other recommendation?

    2. Devorah Leah

      It was fascinating to hear the author’s insights. I’m actually reading the book now and it’s extremely captivating. It’s really spectacular for everyone and I love how it puts Judaism in such a beautiful light through the author’s journey. I know some people who are becoming more observant and this would be a great read for them!

    3. Miriam Racquel (Meryl) Feldman

      Just sharing the link for easy referencing: “God Said What?! #MyOrthodoxLife” https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1737745402

    4. Miriam Racquel (Meryl) Feldman

      Rabbi Levi Bukiet of Chicago wrote this to my husband after reading the book: “I read your wife’s book from cover to cover. It is a most fascinating story of one’s journey, struggle and sacrifice for yiddishkeit and chassidus. It is a must read for everyone, so that we can appreciate and understand the inner beauty and spiritual greatness of many who live amongst us. I could not put the book down for a moment and learned many life messages from her writings and struggles. It was real and pure truth!!! Great book!!! Highly recommended!!”

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