Transforming Trauma and the Wellsprings of Renewal
My own reconnection with Judaism arose unbidden. Synchronicities, dreams and inner guidance led me into deepening relationship with Jewish Renewal. As I began attending ALEPH Kallot, and Ruach Ha’aretz gatherings, I experienced a remarkable flowering of spiritual expression that reclaimed the mystical traditions of Judaism as a psychospiritual practice. The atmosphere of creativity, spontaneity, and authenticity was both awe-inspiring and heart-opening, so different from much of the Judaism I had experienced as a child. I was also moved by the depth at which those around me were stirred by the rituals, prayers, and collective ecstasy. I felt drawn to know more about these people and the journeys they had been on—what had led them to this place of profound opening, and how was it affecting them psychologically and spiritually? I gathered the experience of individuals whose personal and spiritual lives were transformed through encountering Jewish Renewal rabbis who offered an expression of Judaism that touched the depths of their souls.
In exploring their stories, I wondered how the collective trauma of the Shoah, pogroms and other campaigns of terror impacted the transgenerational relationship to Jewish collective memory. How was the experience of reconnection a healing balm for both the individual and for their ancestors and descendants? As I sat with the remarkable stories of transgenerational trauma and transformation, I sensed that we are experiencing a contemporary Exodus, journeying from the exile of disconnection from Jewish collective memory to a renewed relationship with the sacred.
The Mystical Exodus in Jungian Perspective: Transforming Trauma and the Wellsprings of Renewal explores deeply personal and familial stories of reconnection with Judaism through engagement with rabbis from Jewish Renewal and Reconstructing Judaism. The stories are contextualized within the archetypal framework of the Exodus. We see how this timeless story is also the story of our time—of exile as a consequence of collective trauma, of hearing the call of the Beloved, and how, through following this voice, we find our way into deepening connection with our own souls, with the collective soul of Judaism, and with the sacred. Individual stories of reconnection are amplified through several expansive lenses—kabbalistic and other midrash, contemporary Jewish Renewal and feminist theology, and Jungian psychological theory.
The story of the Exodus is a mythopoetic guide of how to reconnect with the sacred and with ancestral wisdom in the wake of catastrophic loss. After our faith has been shattered, how do we begin to trust the ground of being? How do we heal from transgenerational trauma? How can we begin to live a more expansive life?
We follow Moses, keeper of spiritual fire, and Serach bat Asher, preserver of ancestral memory. We encounter the depths with Joseph, touch collective grief with Lilith, experience the Red Sea crossing and Miriam’s well as psychological rebirth and Sinai as the repatterning of traumatized consciousness. Tracing the reawakening of the feminine qualities of eros and relatedness on the journey out of exile, the book demonstrates how restoring and deepening relationship with the Divine serves to transform collective trauma.
The story is a vessel into which sages over millennia distilled the mystical wisdom that enabled Jews to remain connected to Jewish collective memory—wisdom that is remarkably aligned with current psychological theory about how we heal from trauma. The insights that have sustained the Jewish soul through millennia of catastrophic upheavals offers a deep well of healing for our own time.
Shoshana Fershtman, JD, PhD, is a Jungian analyst and clinical psychologist. She is a member analyst and teaches at the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco and served as core faculty at Sonoma State University’s graduate program in Depth Psychology. She has lectured and offered workshops on Jewish mysticism, transgenerational trauma, and the Divine Feminine. She studied Jewish mysticism for several decades with teachers from Jewish Renewal and Reconstructing Judaism and is part of the spiritual leadership team at Congregation Ner Shalom in Cotati. She worked for decades as an attorney for environmental and social justice and indigenous rights. More information at www.shoshanafershtman.com
Link to book on Routledge.com (Publisher’s Website)
Link to Book on Bookshop.Org (supporting independent booksellers)
Link to Book on Amazon
Cover art: Radiance by Elaine Greenwood