Rabbi Jamie Korngold, Author of God in the Wilderness book - official websiteRabbi Jamie Korngold, Author of God in the Wilderness & Adventure Rabbi
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Publisher's Weekly Starred Review:
Rabbi Korngold revels in nature, and she seeks to share that joy as founder of the Adventure Rabbi program to help people reconnect to Judaism via the great outdoors. She has also discovered a way—call it a language, a spirit, an essence—with which to express the simplicity of a back-to-basics spirituality. Balancing an in-depth knowledge of scripture with a wry sense of humor and a compassion for nature, Korngold reminds us of "the nooks and crannies of the natural world" and says that "we must seek them out, soak them in and care for them." The variety of personal stories, tales of travel with various Adventure Rabbi groups and contemporary alternative biblical outcomes—what if Moses had been too busy texting to notice the burning bush?—make for a book that is easily digestible but at the same time worth savoring. Purposely sized to fit easily into a backpack or pocket, the call to return to the wild—or at least your local city park—is ever-present. While certainly aimed at adventuresome readers, the book's message, filled with depictions of fire, water, earth and sky, simultaneously encourages individual exploration and communal responsibility.

-- Publisher's Weekly Starred Review, Jan 30, 2008



"A tremendous read for anyone who wants to get closer to the earth."

"An inspiring story for people who care about "Tikkun Olam."

-- Adam Werbach, former President of Sierra Club and Founder of Act Now Productions


"Sitting on a Rocky Mountain ridge without my camera consumed only by sounds, smells, and views….that is when I become lucid. Rabbi Jamie knows that nature’s sensuousness, lucidity, and God are fundamental to human health, if not one and the same."

--John Fielder, Nature Photographer and author


"God in the Wilderness" is an ideal companion for those of us who find peace and inspiration in the wilderness, those of us who dream of doing so, and those of us who want to find more tranquility and center in our lives. This elegantly-written slim volume provides clear instruction and vivid examples of how outdoor adventures large and small can transform our lives to a calmer and more meaningful place.”

-- Arlene Blum, author of Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life and Annapurna: A Woman's Place


"Lovely.... a privilege to read."

-- Laurie David, Producer of Academy Award winner, An Inconvenient Truth


"I'm looking forward to reading the book. I can't get to it tonight, but I'll read it tomorrow."

-- Former Vice President Al Gore in November 2007. He was handed the book by Rabbi Korngold's sister-in-law Lisa Finkelstein at an event in San Francisco, CA. We're not sure if he read the book. But don't you think it should count for something?


"In a book that combines three genres – midrash, memoir, and adventure writing – Jamie Korngold makes a strong statement: the wilderness is not merely a metaphor for the religious experience, nor merely a path to it. The wilderness, in all of its beauty and majesty, is the Divine presence. God in the Wilderness is not the religion of our fathers and our mothers. But it is the religion of our patriarchs and our matriarchs. And it may be the kind of religious experience our children and their children will celebrate."

-- Rabbi Kenneth E. Ehrlich, Dean, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, Ohio

Rabbi Ken Ehrlich and Rabbi Korngold, Rocky Mountain National Park in Aug 2007. Photo by Jeff Finkelstein

"Our spiritual sages first sensed God in the garden, in the desert, on the mountain. As civilization grew, God's voice was filtered through interpretation and law and institution. Rabbi Jamie Korngold takes us back into the wilderness, where amidst nature's beauty, we rediscover our humility and humanity and God."

-- Rabbi Elyse Frishman, named one of the 50 most influential Jewish People in the US, editor, Mishkan T'filah

Rabbi Elyse Frishman, skiing at Vail (above), with Rabbi Korngold (below), Jan 2007, Vail, Colorado.
Photos by Jeff Finkelstein

“Weaving ancient teachings with personal and profound experiences in the wilderness, Rabbi Korngold provides a wonderful trail map for each of our journies. She leads us to an appreciation of the joy that awaits us if we commit to walking in the natural world that is God’s gift.”

--Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein, Named one of the 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America by Newseek, Central Synagogue, New York NY


"In God in the Wilderness, Rabbi Korngold guides us on a journey that winds through the deep past and the present, through urban canyons and the Grand Canyon, and through the twists and turns of Jewish thought, argument, humor, myth and mysticism. As our guide, interpreter, and teacher, she opens our eyes to a central reality – spiritual connection flourishes when grounded in the earth and bound to experience in nature."

--David W. Cash, Ph.D., Assistant Secretary for Policy, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affair


"Rabbi Jamie is in the business of repairing an ancient fissure. She is bound and determined to bring Judaism and nature back together, How? By taking Jewish practice outside.…She reminds us that that our origins as a tribe were forged in the wilderness, living outside as a nomadic people who herded animals, and found God by opening their eyes to the heightened experiences of life in nature; we were a people who saw God in the burning bush and trembling mountains, clouds filled with light and wells springing up in the desert. So nu? What ever happened to Judaism that made it so cloistered? So pale-faced and wordy?"

"Rabbi Jamie explains that thousands of years ago, Jewish leaders tried to remove nature from Judaism. Afraid that if we continued worshipping freely on mountain tops and under oak trees, any time and any where we chose, we would not need priests, and the priesthood would not be able to consolidate its power. Also, the new tribe would be all too easily subsumed by the pagan ideology of the day, and would start to confuse the beauty of nature with the Source of that beauty, Hashem. So the leadership centralized Judaism in Jerusalem, into a designated place that was authorized to worship, the Temple, with authorized representatives of God, the Priests, with authorized rules and practices …And when all of this got destroyed, we never went back to nature. The sacred experience of Temple Judaism was reshaped into sacred Word Judaism; into scrolls and books, and over time, we have become the People of the Book. Which is a brilliant legacy, but can be very imbalanced."

"'Judaism began in the desert, by mountains, and streams; Today we return to claim our inheritance,' writes Jamie."

"This is a wise book, one which evokes tears of joy and our own inner knowing that Hashem, the God beyond words, the Ground of our Being, (or in Jamie’s words:) 'That which is greater than ourselves' can still be directly experienced."

-- Rabbi Tirzah Firestone is known as Reb Tirzah and is the author of The Receiving: Reclaiming Jewish Women’s Wisdom (Harper San Francisco), With Roots in Heaven: One Woman's Passionate Journey into the Heart of Her Faith (Plume) and The Woman's Kabbalah: Ecstatic Jewish Practices for Women (Sounds True). For more biographical info please see: http://www.tirzahfirestone.com/

Rabbi Tirzah Firestone with Rabbi Korngold, January 2008. Photos by Jeff Finkelstein

"The Tao te Ching, like the Bible, reminds us that we humans are a microcosm of the macrocosm, and that we care for our spirits by tending to the rhythms of nature. Rabbi Korngold eloquently teaches us the universal truths found in the natural world:
Be still;
Be attentive to the moment;
Find meaning in the ordinary;
Be significant rather than successful;
See the raw beauty in front of you.
I felt like I had found a hidden treasure in God in the Wilderness as I became more enveloped by its omnipotent wisdom. Rabbi Korngold reminds us that through our connection with the natural beauty around us, we can save ourselves as we tend to our dear Earth."

--Randine Lewis, L.Ac., Ph.D., author of The Way of the Fertile Soul, and The Infertility Cure



God in the Wilderness is a much needed rush of fresh air. Today’s sterile religious exercises of stand-up sit-down dull recitation services in gloomy outsized buildings has turned many away from traditional religions. The grandeur of nature is the appropriate antidote. Rabbi Korngold has written an accessible, entertaining, and deeply important plea that we spend more energy connecting to the real source of it all instead of relying solely on the written and spoken word.

--Leonard Shlain, Author of The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image.


"God in the Wilderness speaks wisely, lovingly and creatively to the eternal quest for meaning that inhabits every Jewish heart and soul. Drawing compellingly upon the twin majesties of Jewish tradition and lessons learned from years of spiritual practice in the great outdoors, Rabbi Jamie Korngold blazes a trail through our modern spiritual wilderness that can lead her readers to more profound awareness of the greater forces in the world. This thoughtful book should be required reading for anyone who has ever gazed awestruck from the top of a mountain, felt moved by a text or a prayer, or longed for more insightful and all-encompassing modes of worship than those offered by religions that have by and large taken up residence indoors."

--Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D.,Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati/Jerusalem/Los Angeles/New York


"Rabbi Korngold's book [is] earthy, funny, and downright practical.... Among many important truths, Rabbi Korngold teaches us that nothing is perfect, not even God. The implications of this truth are enormous and immediately useful. For this lesson alone I urge you to read GOD IN THE WILDERNESS and share it widely."

"GOD IN THE WILDERNESS... is powerful, earthy, funny, passionate, spiritual, and downright practical."

-- Murray Suid is the author of Words of a Feather


"Her witty insights and rabbinic wisdom are taken into a completely different and often amusing direction by one who loves the smell of
pines by a campfire.
Perhaps the ineffable God is closer here..."

"As an alpinist myself, I can already wish to lace up my hiking boots to follow Rabbi Korngold up some rocky dry canyon where a modern,
stubborn Moses in survival training might just be about to strike a rock for water..."

-- Patrick Hunt, Stanford University, author, TEN DISCOVERIES THAT REWROTE HISTORY


"Reform Rabbi Jamie Korngold has written a small book with powerful messages. Interpreting biblical passages and centuries of commentary, she shows how each of us can find the spiritual meaning we seek by slowing down, going outdoors, and exulting in the grandeur of nature. She also shows how acting on these teachings can help to save our ravaged planet."

-- Myra H. Strober is Professor of Education at Stanford University and Founding Director of Stanford’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research. Her most recent book, with Agnes Chan, is The Road Winds Uphill All the Way: Gender, Work, and Family, in the United States and Japan.


"In the vastness of the desert, under the canopy of an endless sky, Abraham first encountered God. In similar environs, the early Hebrews continued to sense God's presence. Surmounting the obstacles erected by modern society, Rabbi Korngold serves as a spiritual guide through the myriad of paths in the great outdoors where one can recreate the conditions conducive to experiencing God. God in the Wilderness is a wonderfully written book for Jews and non-Jews alike. "

--Richard D. Bank author of The Everything Judaism Book; The Everything Jewish History and Heritage Book


"God in the Wilderness is an intelligent and insightful book that helps us think outside of the box about religion, God and our place in the Universe. Rabbi Korngold is more interested in helping us connect with the sacred than preserving outdated aspects of her religious tradition. The result is an enjoyable treatise on how to find meaning and awe in nature and everyday life experience."

-- Frederic Luskin, Ph.D., Author, Forgive for Good, Director, Stanford Forgiveness Projects


"This past summer, my husband and I had the wonderful experience of visiting the national parks in seven states. God was everywhere --in the mountains, in the deserts, in the streams, in the powerful waterfalls - every where you looked you could not miss Him."

"In our quiet time we could not help but reflect on the awesome power and beauty of nature which God has put into our hands for all humanity to use and enjoy and through which to find Him."

"With our own eyes we saw the exquisiteness of the Grand Canyon, Mt Zion, and Yellowstone and understood well why the early American Indians equated the God of their understanding to what they saw. There was no other way to explain its awesome and powerful beauty."

"All of nature reflects balance and purpose and perfection from its harshest elements to its most simple and sublime moments. You find yourself hearing and seeing with new eyes all God has presented to us."

"Rabbi Korngold, in God in the Wilderness is writing from the richness of her Jewish perspective and reintroduces her people to the God of the Old Testament. The God who made Himself known over and over again to His people through the power, beauty, simplicity and ever unfolding awareness of Himself through the world He, Himself has created."

"This book speaks to people of all faiths who have a hunger for reconnecting with the God of their own understandings and traditions."

"When they read and study with Rabbi Korngold, the Old Testament readings, they will remember that God has been with them from the beginning of time and is drawing them ever closer to Himself in even deeper and more profound ways of understanding. "Be still and know that I am God."

--Trudy A. Harris R.N., author, Glimpses of Heaven


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Learn more about Rabbi Korngold's next book, The God Upgrade (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2011)