Photo Credit: W&B Publishers

Title: Searching for God in the Garbage
Author: Bracha Goetz
Publisher: W&B Publishers

 

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Bracha Goetz is widely known in the world of Jewish literature as the author of 36 children books that convey messages about good middos (My Very Own Mitzvah Mouth) and personal safety (“Let’s Stay Safe”) in her charming, captivating style. With her newest book, Searching for God in the Garbage, Bracha takes a temporary departure from children’s literature and allows readers to follow the personal journey of her own life.

Bracha’s courageous memoir is comprised of diary entries, poems, and letters that follow her life from a young teenager, to her years as a Harvard student, and ultimately, her visit to Israel, which unexpectedly led to her joining the growing Balei Teshuvah movement of the late 70’s.

With raw candor and authenticity, Bracha shares her painful struggles, as she seeks to understand the meaning of life and the inconsistencies of the feminist movement that she supports. Despite her academic achievements and success on the social college scene, Bracha can never quiet the persistent voice of her beautiful soul. Ultimately, that deep void inside her begins to consume her very being and she turns to extreme dieting and binge eating in her attempt to satiate her constant hunger.

The book contains many surprising and thought-provoking scenes. During her years in Harvard, for example, Bracha spends one summer vacation at a beach house together with the family of her non-Jewish boyfriend. There, with the sand and the sun and a family she adores, we find Bracha on the beach… reading a book of Hassidic tales! On another occasion, she secures a sought-after invitation to a garden party with the highest echelons of society… only to find the experience anti-climactic and sorely disappointing. These and other anecdotes highlight the inexplicable yearning and searching that accompanies the young, successful college student, as she tries to make sense of her discontentment and pain.

Just when Bracha despairs of ever finding answers to her soul-searing questions, Bracha’s mother arranges for her to spend six weeks in the summer as a volunteer in Hadassah Hospital, hoping the experiencing will lift her spirits. The visit indeed proves to be life-changing, but not in the way anyone ever imagined.

Readers of all backgrounds will appreciate Bracha’s candor as she explores important topics, such as eating disorders, faith, and personal growth. As they follow Bracha’s inspiring journey, readers will also be treated to brilliant poems, which use short, simple lines to express deep and beautiful ideas. Many lines in her diary entries and letters similarly convey powerful insights in her straightforward but perceptive style.

For years, Bracha has dedicated her time to writing books that “help children’s souls shine.” In Searching for God in the Garbage, readers are treated to an intimate view of the journey that allowed this beloved author’s own soul to shine. In learning her story, we also learn about ourselves, and hopefully by the end, our souls can shine a little brighter too.

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