Saturday, January 7, 2017

Stories Told by Steve Sherr, A Book Review

I just finished reading Steve Sherr's memoirs, No Stories to Tell, and it's full of stories. Sherr begins by telling of his rather ordinary New York Jewish-style childhood. And he continues in a surprising way by ending up taking on Orthodox Torah Judaism and retiring to Israel.

Considering that I'm just a few years younger, also raised in a rather assimilated Jewish home in New York and also now a religious Jew living in Israel, you'd think that Sherr's story would be familiar to me. It isn't anything like mine.

Not long ago, I was discussing with someone that there are a lot of tell-all books written by Jews who were raised in very religious homes but "left the life style." We discussed how we need books of the opposite genre, and I said that they won't be all that interesting, because the writers will be much too discreet, embarrassed and protective of their families and themselves to write a "bestseller." As interesting and well-written as Steve Sherr's book is, it does match my description/prediction. It's very discreet. I have lots of questions to ask about his and his wife's rather late in life change to an Orthodox Torah observant life.

On the other hand, Sherr is rather upfront and open about his unhappiness and depression before he felt a spiritual experience, which showed him that there is a Gd. He tells us how he searched to find out what would fill that spiritual need and then the difficulties in trying to make these changes palatable to his wife and children.

There was also an irony in his becoming more successful and popular as a campus psychologist in a very secular Leftist college campus as he became more Torah observant. The head-covering and tzitziyot didn't frighten away troubled students.

As Sherr began to get into the "meat" of his story, I found the book hard to put down. Although he had been trained as a counselor and psychologist to  believe and help people to accept  "everything," no rules nor absolutes, he himself found a belief in Gd and peace and purpose by following Gd's commandments. And although Sherr had a successful career in California, he and his wife are now happily living in the Golan Heights. Actually as I read of their search for a suitable place to live in Israel, I kept hoping they'd try Shiloh. If they'd like to visit, they can give me a call...

No Stories to Tell is a cross between a memoir and a series of autobiographical essays, stories, diary entries or possibly blog posts. At times its identity/genre gets me confused, especially in the last section. But all in all, I did enjoy reading it and recommend it to others.

  • Publisher: Steven D. Sherr (August 1, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0692755810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0692755815

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