Spiritual transformation is the process of changing one’s beliefs, values, attitudes, and everyday behaviors related to a transcendent experience or higher power. Jewish adults who adopt Orthodoxy provide a clear example of spiritual transformation within a religious context. With little prior exposure to traditional practice, these baalei teshuvah (literally, “masters of return” in Hebrew) turn away from their former way of life, take on strict religious obligations, and intensify their spiritual commitment. This book examines the process of adopting Orthodox Judaism and the extensive life changes that are required. Based on forty-eight individual interviews as well as focus groups and interviews with community outreach leaders, it uses psychological developmental theory and the concept of socialization to understand this journey. Roberta G. Sands examines the study participants’ family backgrounds, initial explorations, decisions to make a commitment, spiritual struggles, and psychological and social integration. The process is at first exciting, as baalei teshuvah make new discoveries and learn new practices. Yet after commitment and immersion in an Orthodox community, they face challenges furthering their education, gaining cultural knowledge, and raising a family without parental role models. By showing how baalei teshuvah integrate their new understandings of Judaism into their identities, Sands provides fresh insight into a significant aspect of contemporary Orthodoxy.
“Sands’s judicious and comprehensive application of social science theories to the study of Jewish returnees provides a unique contribution to the social scientific study of religion.” — Roberta Rosenberg Farber, coeditor of Jews in America: A Contemporary Reader
Roberta G. Sands is Professor Emerita at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. She is the author of several books, including Clinical Social Work Practice in Behavioral Mental Health: Toward Evidence-Based Practice and Interprofessional and Family Discourses: Voices, Knowledge, and Practice.
Organized around 2 parts: PART I: A Framework for Practice (History, Culturally Competency, Legal and Ethical Issues, Biopsychosocial framework and assessment and Feminist Practice) and PART II: Intervention (Evidence Based Practice with clients with: Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Serious Mental Illness, Severe Mental Illness in Community Context and with their Families, and Co-occuring Substance Abuse and Serious Mental Illness)
Dr. Remen's grandfather, an orthodox rabbi and scholar of the Kabbalah, saw life as a web of connection and knew that everyone belonged to him, and that he belonged to everyone. He taught her that blessing one another is what fills our emptiness, heals our loneliness, and connects us more deeply to life.
Life has given us many more blessings than we have allowed ourselves to receive. My Grandfather's Blessings is about how we can recognize and receive our blessings and bless the life in others. Serving others heals us. Through our service we will discover our own wholeness—and the way to restore hidden wholeness in the world.