Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review:
Rabbi Korngold revels in nature, and she seeks to share that joy as founder of the Adventure Rabbi program to help people reconnect to Judaism via the great outdoors. She has also discovered a way—call it a language, a spirit, an essence—with which to express the simplicity of a back-to-basics spirituality. Balancing an in-depth knowledge of scripture with a wry sense of humor and a compassion for nature, Korngold reminds us of “the nooks and crannies of the natural world” and says that “we must seek them out, soak them in and care for them.”
The variety of personal stories, tales of travel with various Adventure Rabbi groups and contemporary alternative biblical outcomes—what if Moses had been too busy texting to notice the burning bush?—make for a book that is easily digestible but at the same time worth savoring. Purposely sized to fit easily into a backpack or pocket, the call to return to the wild—or at least your local city park—is ever-present. While certainly aimed at adventuresome readers, the book’s message, filled with depictions of fire, water, earth and sky, simultaneously encourages individual exploration and communal responsibility.
— Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review, Jan 30, 2008
Publisher’s Weekly Author Profile:
Jamie Korngold: “Adventure Rabbi” Leads People into God’s Country
by Marcia Z. Nelson, Religion BookLine — Publishers Weekly, 1/30/2008
From ski bum to rabbi has made one interesting journey, spiritually and literally, for Jamie Korngold, author of the forthcoming God in the Wilderness: Rediscovering the Spirituality of the Great Outdoors with the Adventure Rabbi (Three Leaves/Doubleday, April; starred review in this issue). A Reform rabbi, Korngold began the Adventure Rabbi program in 2001 as a way of uniting her love of the outdoors with outreach to those American Jews who were more likely to be outside a synagogue than in one. The Adventure Rabbi program, which has brought Shabbat services and scripture study to ski slopes and mountain meadows, was the next logical leap of faith for a woman whose eclectic resume includes a cross-country bicycle trip when she was a teenager, a summer job as an outdoor musician in Sapporo, Japan, and fourth place in a national telemark mogul skiing championship. “It started out as my little dream,” said Korngold, who lives in the Rocky Mountain foothills of Boulder, Colo., with her husband and two children, one of whom is an infant. “I sometimes feel like I just jumped in front of the parade.”
In her book, Korngold argues that religion began outdoors. The Bible is filled with stories of divine encounter and worship in the wilderness. Her book draws lessons from those stories as well as her own experience as an endurance athlete. She wrote it during a summer, when her schedule includes leading regular outdoor hikes. “Each of the chapters got discussed on hikes,” she said. “It all got field tested.” The book is itself small, so it can be tucked into a backpack.
Korngold’s platform includes the growing Adventure Rabbi community, which is virtual but also real, taking the form of small groups of people in various cities interested in Judaism and the outdoors. People make both spiritual and social connections, finding like-minded others. A group in New York began in 2006. “There are so many people hungry for this type of learning and community,” Korngold said. God in the Wilderness publishes April 8, shortly before Korngold leads a Passover retreat for a seder meal in the desert outside Moab, Utah. “We already have 65 people signed up,” she said.