Does the Soul Survive, by Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz

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Spitz, a Conservative rabbi, sets out to convince readers that it's kosher to be Jewish and believe in reincarnation and the afterlife. He details his personal journey from skepticism to belief in the reality of the soul, distilling along the way the work of pioneering mediums like Brian Weiss and James van Draagh. Spitz discusses one seminar he attended in which he found himself revealing images of a previous life as a Native American, and another in which his wife's deceased grandparents "communicated" with her. Spitz employs an array of Jewish sources--particularly mystical texts--that affirm a faith in the survival of the soul, although the concept remains controversial in traditional Judaism. He claims that this faith can provide comfort to those struggling with death. "Letting go is easier when one believes death is not final," he says. He offers the personal example of coping with his mother's death, followed by dramatic instances of how he has used guided imagery to ease congregants into accepting death. While we are alive, our "homework assignment" is to nurture our souls through good deeds and to express gratitude to God, "rooting us more deeply in living this life each day as a precious gift." Spitz's compelling arguments may cement the beliefs of Jewish readers already receptive to the existence of the supernatural and open a doorway for doubters to reconceptualize life and death. Paperback, 245 pages, isbn 9781580231657

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