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Detailed Book Review
Journey into Healing         
Journey into Healing
By Sherri Waas Shunfenthal
ISBN: 978-1-929763-16-0
Price: $14.95
Shipping: $4.00
In Journey into Healing, Sherri Waas Shunfenthal invites her readers to delve into the hearts and minds of eleven women from the Hebrew Bible. As with her previous book, Sacred Voices: Women of Genesis Speak, Shunfenthal utilizes her poetic spirit to give voice to these matriarchs and heroines, a freedom not allowed to most of them by the biblical writers. The author is particularly interested in how women who have undergone such diverse and stressful life experiences as these biblical women seek, and hopefully find, healing and wholeness. Each woman's story is presented in five parts: poetry, discussion, reflections, contemplations, and meditation. This design provides the reader with an entry into the biblical woman's story followed by a roadmap for journeying further into the emotions of her life and the possible connections between these biblical characters' experiences and those of the reader. The final product reaches the reader on various levels and allows for repeat visits to the spaces for healing the author has given her audience. Journey Into Healing is a text that is at home in both the classroom and the religious environment. Wherever this book is read, lives will be changed and the biblical stories of these women will never be the same.

-Dr. Lisa Davison, Lexington Theological Seminary

The author's appearances have included Georgio's Restaurant in Washington, DC; Burke Community Center; Burke Presbyterian Church; Adat Reyim Rosh Chodesh Group; Lakeridge Book Club; Border's Books in Springfield; Barnes & Noble in Springfield; Del Ray Artisan's Gallery in Alexandria; Fall for the Book Festival in Fairfax; Pam's Local Book Group; Howard Community College; and Olam Tikvah Synagogue.

Journey into Healing is also available as an ebook on Amazon.com for the Kindle.

Book Review Details:
Reviewed Appeared In: Washington Jewish Week
Reviewed By: Aaron Leibel
Text Of Review: Finding healing in biblical women No. Virginia poet's book invites contemplation, meditation

Focusing on biblical women helps individuals put their problems in perspective and heal themselves. So says Sherri Waas Shunfenthal, a northern Virginia writer and poet whose book Journey Into Healing (Pocol Press) was published earlier this year. "In our fast-paced lives, we don't take the time to grieve or look inside ourselves," says Burke's Shunfenthal. "The book looks at the process of healing through the lives of biblical women. The more depth we see in these women, the more is reflected back in our self-mirror." Noting that individuals don't always have a clear picture of themselves, she says, "by looking at another's story, we often see ourselves. We become better people by realizing that we all suffer sorrow, loss, grief and pain."

The book examines 11 biblical women -- Lilith, Eve, Sarah, Rachel, Leah, Dinah, Miriam, Hannah, Ruth, Naomi and Esther. Each chapter deals with one woman, usually beginning with a poem written by Shunfenthal, then proceeds to a discussion of the historical background; contemplations ("questions arising from the biblical woman's story," Shunfenthal writes in the book); journal writing (questions are asked relating to the woman and readers are encouraged to answer those questions in a journal); and meditation ("helps us find strength within, allowing us to focus our energy on healing and be open to God's guidance"). For example, for Miriam (one of Shunfenthal's favorites) there are three poems. In "Miriam Saves Moses," the author tracks Miriam down the river, following the basket with her baby brother inside, until it is rescued from the river by the Egyptian princess. Miriam runs home to tell her mother.

"Her ecstatic cries create tremors through me. We dance with abandon like cascading waterfalls, singing 'Our baby is safe.' "

In "Crossing the Red Sea," Miriam calls the people to sing and dance after crossing the Red Sea, and the poet writes of her relationship with God in "Miriam's Well." In the sections that follow, readers learn that Miriam's name means "bitter sea," and that she had "extraordinary powers to heal and nourish the people." Shunfenthal writes that dance is important in her own life, and invites readers to write about one of their important symbols and its meaning in their lives. Finally, she asks readers to meditate on drawing water from their spiritual wells. Shunfenthal "has always felt connected to Judaism and Jews," she says, crediting her love for Judaism to her home life as a child. She grew up in Philadelphia in the 1960s, attending a synagogue where four generations of her father's family had worshiped, studying in its Hebrew school and taking part in weekly Shabbat candlelighting at home on Friday night. Her attachment to Jewish communal life continues today at Congregation Adat Reyim in Springfield where she periodically leads healing services and meditations, has written poetry used by Rabbi Bruce Aft and has written several services, including that used by children on Yom Kippur. After studying deaf education at Pennsylvania State University and getting a master's in speech-language pathology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, she worked with emotionally disturbed and developmentally disabled children in the Philadelphia area and deaf individuals in California before moving to the Washington area 15 years ago. Here, she has helped adults and children with language problems in a clinical setting. But poetry always has been Shunfenthal's avocation. "I've always been interested in writing poetry since my mother put a pen in my hand as a child," she says. Some 35 years ago, when her poetry-writing began to take shape, her mom requested an original poem every mother's day, and Shunfenthal has complied ever since. She says her first published poem, "Einstein's Formula," which appeared in Welcome Home magazine, was composed for her mother. "Poetry makes you focus on the moment," Shunfenthal says. "It gives you a glimpse into something you may not have seen or noticed before. It allows us to use our senses, and find a universal connection to each other." Her interest in biblical women was spurred by a parsha study group that Aft led at Adat Reyim several years ago. "We kept studying about men, and I kept asking, 'Where are the women?' "Also, many of the traditional interpretations of women were negative, and I wanted to give them a different slant." The result was her first book, Sacred Voices: Women of Genesis Speak (Pocol Press, 2000). Journey Into Healing evolved from discussion with Aft, she says, who encouraged her to write a sequel to Sacred Voices in which she would discuss how biblical women healed themselves. She would like to write a novel, perhaps about one of those biblical women. "We are still coping with the same problems those women did," Shunfenthal notes.

Date Reviewed: 07/31/2003
Link To Web Site:    
Author Appearances: Oct 23, 2007- Agudas Achim Congregation in Arlington, Va 7:00pm
November 4, 2007 Olam Tikvah in Fairfax, Va 7:00pm
November 10 Lunch and Learn Kol HaLev in Baltimore, Md at noon
Contact Author: No Contact Information For This Author

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