By Leonard Felder
Trumpeter, $15.95, 180 pages
In this book, author Leonard Felder, a psychologist, takes a Jewish spiritual approach to helping clients of various faiths improve their mental and emotional health. Felder discusses eight techniques for helping the reader psychologically, such as re-centering and controlling moods. The book is organized around these eight principles, with a chapter dedicated to each, informed by Jewish spiritualism but intended for an interfaith audience. For example, chapter one begins with an analysis of the title “Here I Am” or “Hineini” in Hebrew, the answer to God’s question, “Where are you?”, which the author recommends asking oneself to re-center.
“Yet even though I completed my PhD in holistic psychology and explored several different approaches from various spiritual traditions for healing and wellness, I kept finding that the most effective and profound remedies for stress and overload came from a place I didn’t expect–the world of Jewish spirituality.”
This book provides excellent teachings for improving mental health for the Jewish reader, or at least the reader deeply interested in Judaism. While the author does not outright proselytize, his work is not as interfaith as he would lead us to believe. Nearly every page is devoted to Judaism and Jewish traditions. There is nothing wrong with that, but we can’t really pretend this is anything but Jewish spirituality, best suited for a Jewish audience, or one interested in Judaism. The author makes an excellent case for Jewish spirituality as helping in times of stress. That can be said of most faiths, and that indeed is their function, some would say.
Reviewed by Stacia Levy