Book Review, Faith, Spirituality

TURNING BACK

The Personal Journey of a “Born-Again” Jew

 5 Star Read ✡✡✡✡✡

A fascinating testimony about a Jew who takes the plunge into Orthodox Judaism in search of finding his bigger Jewish self. As you read his story, you are drawn into his world. Captured in the poetic atmosphere he describes, you feel as though you are standing right beside him throughout his journey. Eloquently written with a touch of subtle humour you develop an understanding of the challenges within the complexities of the Jewish family for a Jewish individual to embrace.

A Jew learns what religious means.

The author immerses himself in the highest level of religious tradition with a quest in hand to be a better man — He doesn’t proclaim his desires in a pious way. He is very humble and gentle about his life of wanting a returning to a closer place with God. In a less direct way, the author asserts his convictions. Variations of Jewish ideals are presented by the assortment of characters the author introduces to us here. The author’s views are very open as he accepts people just as they are.

The writer grew up in a less religious household. His brother converted to Christianity through marrying a non-Jew and is now a Christian pastor. His father, an agnostic, and his mother is not entirely supportive of Orthodoxy, not understanding the extremes of Jewish Orthodox living and why it is necessary.

The rules of Orthodox Judaism are not easy for anyone to follow. When courting, the expectation is a proposal just shortly after dating the same person only a few times. There is strict adherence to having no physical contact before marriage. One must also finally qualify as a potential bachelor through an alliance decision made by the Orthodox community. A suitable bachelor is considered based on the grading of one’s health and success status. Due to being a single, 30-year-old, newly Orthodox Jew, the author admits to already being on the lower end of this Jewish “Best Singles” Orthodox list. The challenges of his faith also resulted in a disconnect from his own family. I couldn’t help but wonder how life was for his mother having two sons, one a pastor and the other an Orthodox Jew. What must it have been like for this family to get along in such very different extremes?

A pursuit of finding balance through understanding rules.

As a Gentile, my faith in God differs from having such a religious structure. I appreciate the author’s story since I am trying to understand the Jew that I believe in. My contentment is found in my convictions; however, how do I define them? What is the difference between right and wrong? What is Jewish anyway? I suppose that is the purpose of the Jew to set the example for us rebels in the world who have not been defined by others who have set the standard based on their father’s, father’s standards. I admire the author’s commitment because he has made a choice to give. By giving up his worldly freedom, the author has given to me. He has given to the world as he is being Jewish, which from his perspective, is trying to set an example of goodness as what God desires for us to all be.

The Extremes

The author further discusses the Jew/Gentile relationship to explain that Orthodox Judaism is against intermarriage. Keeping the integrity of Jewish is sacred, but what it means to be Jewish is different for everyone even if you are Orthodox. Everyone is unique having their own perspectives and beliefs even within that Orthodox world.

The author’s unbiased opinions allow him to accept others to be whomever God made them to be.

Turning Back

I really enjoyed reading Turning Back, by Michael Lesher. It was great to hear his story and I feel blessed that he gave me this opportunity to see into his world. We can all learn from one another when we are not afraid of each other. If we learn to respect our differences then, perhaps, we will also find the beauty there.

About the Author

Michael Lesher, a writer and a lawyer, has published a number of articles about child abuse and is co-author of a book on the American family court system’s poor record of protecting children. An Orthodox Jew, he has also published short fiction and poetry and lives in Passaic, New Jersey.

  • ISBN-10 : 1947187058
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1947187054
  • Publisher : Lincoln Square Books (September 10, 2020)

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