Reading List for Jewish Mourners

Books Available in the Feldman Library

  • A Treasury of Comfort – By: Rabbi Sidney Greenberg
  • Understanding Bereavement and Grief – By: Nornan Linzer
  • The Jewish Mourner’s Book of Why – By: Alfred J. Kolatch
  • The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning – By: Maurice Lamm
  • Jewish Insights on Death and Mourning – By: Jack Riemer
  • Mourning & Mitzvah – By: Anne Brenner
  • A Time to Morn, a Time to Comfort – By: Dr. Ron Wolfson
  • The Jewish Book Of Why – By: Alfred J. KJolatch
  • Death and Bereavement – By: Rabbi Abner Weiss, Ph.D.
  • Tear Soup – By: Taylor Bills
  • The Kaddish Minyan – By: Rabbi Herbert A. Yoskowitz
  • L’Chaim A Zayde Adventure – By: Tamra L. Dollin
  • Words That Hurt, Words That Heal – By: Joseph Telushkin
  • Seasons of Grief – By: Rida D. Carrier
  • Healing A Teen’s Greaving Heart – Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
  • Living with Loss, Healing with Hope – By: Rabbi Earl A. Grollman
  • Saying Kaddish – By: Anita Diamant
  • Making Loss Matter – By: Rabbi David Wolpe
  • Embracing Life & Facing Death – By:
    Rabbi Daniel S. Brenner, Rabbi Tsvi Blanchard, PH.D., Joseph J. Fins, M.D., F.A.C.P.
    Rabbi Bradley Hirschfield
  • Healing A Child’s Grieving Heart – By: Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
  • The Mourner’s Handbook – By: Rabbi William Cutter
  • Healing Your Grieving For Teens – Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
  • Where Do We Go From Here? – By: Ernie Carwile
  • The Mourner’s Companion – By: Rabbi Zalman Goldstein

Additional Reading

  1. Molly Fumia, Safe Passage (Conari Press 2003) The loss of a loved one can be devastating. Tens of thousands of people have taken grieving mother, writer, and grief expert Molly Fumia up on her offer of a helping hand through the process of grief and recovery. Her wisdom comes from personal experience, and her writing is at once universal and highly personal. In this new edition, Fumia has expanded her introduction, based on response to the book, plus added material on various relationship losses to several of the chapters. Through a series of contemplative meditations, Safe Passage helps readers through the stages of grief, from near disbelief and denial to acceptance and growth. Chapters including “Beginning,” “Navigation,” “Surrender,” “Transformation,” “Continuance,” and “Connection” offer one map for a difficult journey. With moving and honest simplicity, readers are guided towards healing and hope. “On the path toward healing, I learned two surprising lessons,” writes Molly Fumia in the Introduction. “The first is that grief in the most patient and persistent of all of life’s companions. The second is that grief is an ancient, universal power that links all human beings together.” Safe Passage is a compassionate and comforting companion, offering a steady hand through a dark voyage.
  2. Anne Brenner, Mourning & Mitzvah (Jewish Lights 2007) A stunning book! It offers an exploration in depth of the place where psychology and religious ritual intersect, and the name of that place is Truth.” — Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People
  3. Harold S. Kushner, When Bad Things Happen to Good People (Anchor Books 1981) Rarely does a book come along that tackles a perennially difficult human issue with such clarity and intelligence. Harold Kushner, a Jewish rabbi facing his own child’s fatal illness, deftly guides us through the inadequacies of the traditional answers to the problem of evil, then provides a uniquely practical and compassionate answer that has appealed to millions of readers across all religious creeds. Remarkable for its intensely relevant real-life examples and its fluid prose, this book cannot go unread by anyone who has ever been troubled by the question, “Why me.”
  4. Earl A. Grollman, Living When A Loved One has Died (Beacon Press 2nd ed. 1987) When someone you love dies, Earl Grollman writes, “there is no way to predict how you will feel. The reactions of grief are not like recipes, with given ingredients, and certain results. . . . Grief is universal. At the same time it is extremely personal. Heal in your own way.”
  5. Naomi Levy, To Begin Again (Alfred A. Knopf 1998) “Then what good is God?” a rape victim asked Rabbi Naomi Levy after Levy said she didn’t think preventing tragedies was in God’s hands. Levy realizes that the question after a personal tragedy should not be, “Why did this happen?” but rather, “How can I go on?” To Begin Again is a book of comfort and faith to lead us through tragic times. Her advice is wise, gentle, and compassionate, dotted with stories of people Levy knows who have endured terrible pain–and healed. She teaches us to get comfort from asking others for help, letting ourselves cry, seeking a community of faith, studying something new, and keeping memories alive. She shows us how to rebuild our lives by facing the truth, loving and forgiving ourselves, repairing relationships with loved ones, teaching our hearts to remain open, holding onto our faith, and, finally, transforming ourselves.
  6. T. J Wray, Surviving the Death of a Sibling (Three Rivers Press 2003)-  Format- This is a combination of a touching first person account of loss, with the poignant passages of others with textbook material woven in.
  7. Deborah Morris Coryell (Healing Arts Press 2007) – When T.J. Wray lost her 43-year-old brother, her grief was deep and enduring and, she soon discovered, not fully acknowledged. Despite the longevity of adult sibling relationships, surviving siblings are often made to feel as if their grief is somehow unwarranted. After all, when an adult sibling dies, he or she often leaves behind parents, a spouse, and even children—all of whom suffer a more socially recognized type of loss.
8.    Sherri Mandell, The Blessings of a Broken Heart (The Toby Press 2009 Mandell, an American-born writer (Writers of the Holocaust), who has lived with her family in Israel since 1996, not only had to deal with the loss of the oldest of her four children, 13-year-old Koby, but also had to cope with the horrific way in which he lost his life. On May 8, 2001, Koby and a friend, Yosef, played hooky from school to hike in a canyon close to their home in Tekoa, a West Bank settlement on disputed land. Koby and Yosef were found bludgeoned to death with stones, an act attributed to Palestinian terrorists. The author writes movingly about her beloved son and brings him to life as an energetic, curious adolescent who loved books and sports. Despite the despair that engulfed her in the first days after Koby’s death, the author’s strong bond with her husband, Rabbi Seth Mandell, and her deep religious faith allowed her to fully experience the painful process of mourning, deal with the guilt she felt about living in an unsafe place and find an inspiring direction for her life. The text is laced with references to prayer and the Jewish traditions that Mandell relied on to help her understand why God had taken her son. Determined not to let their lives be ruled by hate, the Mandells have established the Koby Mandell Foundation, which sponsors healing retreats for women bereaved by terrorist violence as well as a camp for children whose parents or siblings have been killed by terrorists.
  8. Mort Schrag, Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow (Published by Mount Sinai Memorial Parks and Mortuaries 2003 If you have ever played an organized sport, you know that to beat your opponent, you not only need to have a good team and proven skills – you also need a game plan or strategy BEFORE you enter the game. The same is true in the “game of life” – especially with regards to those situations that look like they could ruin you financially, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Some self-help books offer you “prosperity training” or “get-rich-quick schemes”, but very few, if any, offer you insight into “how to prepare-for-the-worst” that can happen to you. This book offers a “game plan” in this area of preparing yourself for life-threatening, life-changing situations. Using these principles, God has blessed me to overcome some insurmountable obstacles: obtaining a doctorate degree with honors after making only “C”s and “D”s in high school; becoming an accomplished Air Traffic Controller with marginal math background training; Recovering from a near-fatal health condition in only three days! How did these things happen? After months of soul-searching to understand it myself, the divine plan was given to me to  share with you. It is simple and has only four parts to it. 1) Develop a “Life Perspective” as soon as you can. 2) Learn to view the situation in its proper perspective. 3) Use all of the knowledge and truth of your Christian faith to see the reality of the present situation in order to take proactive steps to prepare yourself mentally and spiritually to carry you through the “valley of the shadow of death”. 4) Stay focused in time of trouble by learning and following the steps of how to deal with the “End of Days” moments.
  9. Rabbi David J. Wolpe, Making Loss Matter (Riverhead Books 1999 Rabbi Wolpe weaves together a finely constructed tapestry of biblical stories, Western and Eastern philosophy and literature, and incidents from his own life to explain how to deal with the pain of personal loss, whether of love, life, home, faith, or dreams. Rabbi Harold Kushner’s When Bad Things Happen to Good People could be considered the predecessor of Wolfe’s discussion of personal loss and ways to turn it into strength and hope. Both rabbis write in a clear, straightforward style, accessible to Jewish and non-Jewish readers alike. However, by stressing his own life and losses, Wolfe gives depth and meaning to concepts that might otherwise remain abstract and theoretical. Wolpe’s strength is in showing how a caring and direct approach to dealing with losses can reenergize the human spirit and give us courage to continue living life to the fullest.

Book descriptions found on Amazon.com.

Additional Related Reading

  1. David J. Wolpe, Why Faith Matters (Harper One 2008) Why Faith Matters is an articulate defense of religion in America. It makes the case for faith and shows its relationship to history and science. Refuting the cold reason of atheists and the hatred of fanatics with a vision of religion informed by faith, love, and understanding, Rabbi David J. Wolpe follows in a literary tradition that stretches from Cardinal Newman to C. S. Lewis to Thomas Merton—individuals of faith who brought religion and culture together in their own works. Wolpe takes readers through the origins and nature of faith, the role of the Bible in modern life, and the compatibility of God and science, concluding with a powerful argument for the place of God, faith, and religion in today’s world. Estelle Frankel, Sacred Therapy (Shambhala Press 2005) – This excellent book blends Jewish wisdom and modern psychology that the grieving may find helpful.
  2. Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning (Beacon Press 2006) Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl is among the most influential works of psychiatric literature since Freud. The book begins with a lengthy, austere, and deeply moving personal essay about Frankl’s imprisonment in Auschwitz and other concentration camps for five years, and his struggle during this time to find reasons to live. The second part of the book, called “Logotherapy in a Nutshell,” describes the psychotherapeutic method that Frankl pioneered as a result of his experiences in the concentration camps. Freud believed that sexual instincts and urges were the driving force of humanity’s life; Frankl, by contrast, believes that man’s deepest desire is to search for meaning and purpose. Frankl’s logotherapy, therefore, is much more compatible with Western religions than Freudian psychotherapy. This is a fascinating, sophisticated, and very human book. At times, Frankl’s personal and professional discourses merge into a style of tremendous power. “Our generation is realistic, for we have come to know man as he really is,” Frankl writes. “After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.”