Hope into Practice
Life experience has taught me that the better we feel about who we are and where we come from, the better we’ll treat other people—and the more positive/powerful our activism will be in creating a just and generous world. And the more joyful, expansive and meaningful our own lives will be. That’s the bottom line of Hope into Practice.
Working through internalized oppression (hard work, but totally possible!), we can fight more effectively to change systems that are immoral, violent, unfair. Linking personal healing with social justice, we can speak out as loud/proud self-loving Jews against attacks on undocumented workers, against the rollback of abortion rights or against the Israeli government building settlements on Palestinian land.
Hope into Practice is about Jewish women in the U.S., but it’s for everyone who cares about Jewish women, about Jews, about women (including those who identify as trans/gender-queer.)
I’d love you to bring me to your town, bookstore, synagogue, women’s center, school, community group, conference, book club to do a reading or a workshop or both!
PRAISE for Hope into Practice
“When I first read the Table of Contents, I was surprised to feel tears arise: tears of need, hunger, yearning, promise. The wounds that both drive us and inhibit us as Jewish activists run so deep. Penny offers us a pathway for facing these wounds, allowing more of ourselves and each other to come alive as we do so. Her book is filled with wild, truthful and exuberant voices, you can feel their spirits in their words. Hope into Practice welcomes readers to join the conversation and the song.”
“A wonderful, gutsy, and inspiring book. Penny Rosenwasser takes on the most explosive issues in American Jewish life today—racism and anti-Semitism, victimization and privilege, and Jewish politics around Israel and Palestine—and she does it with a generosity of spirit and a clear head. The voices at the heart of this book are those of women struggling to forge meaningful Jewish identities and political practices. Rosenwasser tacks back and forth between their testimonies and a sophisticated analysis of contemporary Jewish history and politics. This book has a wealth of discussion modules for groups and is also a good read. Either way, a vision of a progressive Jewishness for a multicultural 21st century comes through proud and clear.”
“Hope into Practice: Jewish Women Choosing Justice Despite Our Fears by long time peace feminist Penny Rosenwasser is a book for everyone, even recovering Catholics withholding judgment on Pope Francis like myself. The gritty personal stories of contemporary Jewish feminists imbue her calls for the centrality of Jewish multi-culturalism, liberatory healing, and her advocacy for security, dignity, and self-determination, for Israel and Palestine through changes in US policies. All are grounded in the precept of ‘tikkun olam’, mending the world. In dinner discussions of Palestine/Israel intractability, yes there still are some, I’m the one dovening, “but what are we gonna do?” Thankfully Rosenwasser’s bracing book concludes with a 38-page action-oriented Reader’s Guide, a tool for organizers and activists. Hope floats throughout this book and the question, “What could Jewishness be without suffering or victimhood?” is asked in joy not shame. It is a question for all faith traditions.”
“Rosenwasser knows her audience. I felt that she was writing to me and my cohort of young adult, Jewish female community organizers and activists trying to live a principled life in a world rife with contradictions …[The book’s] pages are saturated with Rosenwasser’s brilliant thinking and unwavering love for the Jewish people. There are several sentences within each chapter that so stunningly dismantle internalized anti-Semitism that, in an instant, long-time confusions I’ve carried about myself as a woman and as a Jew were squashed. I was brought to tears more than once…Hope into Practice is an absolutely inspiring call to action. Because, if not together, how?”
“The beauty of this book lies in its insistence that our healing is never separate from our politics. How we treat others is inherently linked to how we treat ourselves, and when we harm others, we cause harm to ourselves.”
“The book is brilliant, and is written in the great humanistic spirit of good anthropology.”
“This work fills a gap in the Jewish studies scholarship that connects real world conflict with the larger affective processes that drive it. Based on the bold assumption that communal and individual healing is integral to justice work, Rosenwasser’s multi-disciplinary book is at once a memoir, a Jewish feminist treatise, and an activist guide. Written from a poignant, personal perspective, Hope into Practice allows readers to reflect on their own struggles with Jewish identity, queerness, and ethical commitment in order to imagine a better future. A must-read for all Jewish feminists!”
“The Jewish women you’ll meet in this book will inspire you, make you laugh, and challenge you to be more fierce. This is a book about liberation from our narrow places and the power to change the world. No matter who you are, you’ll learn something new about being human.”
“I am reading her book right now and started crying one page in. It’s like someone naming things I never had a name for but always experienced.”
“In creating a path of liberation for Jewish women, Penny shows a way for any freedom-seeking person to move from the internalization of oppression into wholeness. She illuminates what it takes to heal–both personally and collectively. This is a teaching story for all of us.”
“A powerful tool for today’s Jewish activists. Rosenwasser writes at once the things we cannot bear to read and the words we have been yearning to hear. She challenges us to ask what Jewishness could be without suffering and victimhood–questions asked with joy, not shame. Rosenwasser guides us to value our Jewish selves as much as we value others, and to fully believe in our worth, recognizing that this is no small feat. Hope Into Practice acknowledges that we cannot wait to heal all our wounds before we act, but cannot wait until our movements are successful before we turn to our healing.”
“I have never thought of myself as being anti-Semitic or racist. Then I picked up Hope into Practice by Penny Rosenwasser…I never realized how indifferent I have been to anti-Semitism. She makes me want to work a little harder in trying to be the kind of person I want to be.”
“I cried through the whole first part, torn open by the known and unknown histories Rosenwasser exposes. As I continued reading, I was intermittently frozen with tears, nodding and saying yes, and turning to whoever was in the room with me to read paragraphs out loud…I long for Rosenwasser’s discussion of cycles of trauma to be present in mainstream Jewish institutions and community…Jewish women’s lives are the heart of this book…The questions she asks, the possibilities for healing that she offers, and the invitation to engage deeply with our whole selves is a galvanizing opportunity that I hope my community of Jewish women does not miss.”
“Hope into Practice is the love child of Robin Morgan’s Sisterhood is Powerful and Evelyn Torton Beck’s Nice Jewish Girls. A fiercely vulnerable collection of voices and experiences, questions and insights, and most of all moxie, this book is clearly worthy of it matriarchal heritage!”
“Your book Hope Into Practice resonated deeply with my own past… I was…impressed by the interplay of passion and practical wisdom in your approach to activism.”
“A stunningly well-researched history of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust…Book and author alike are…well-informed and impressively well-read.”
“The history of anti-Semitism is fascinating. Many personal stories of Jewish women are genuinely instructive and revealing…The writing is both poignant and personal and always to the point.”
“Penny Rosenwasser has dedicated her life to peace for Palestine and Israel. I’m so impressed with her activism; her process for purging the effects of bigotry is both spiritual and pragmatic. If there were Jewish saints, and Gentiles were allowed to elect them, she would get my vote. The facts of the book are well-documented and copiously end-noted. The book also contains workshop suggestions for the use of each chapter.”
“Beginning with Chapter 10, ‘Taking Egypt Out of the Jews,’ she writes fifty pages of excellent political analysis that I recommend to anyone and everyone. Rosenwasser understands the intersections of class, power, and economics…[and] is a smart and thorough writer…”
“…extraordinarily moving text… [Hope into Practice] has a depth of wisdom too rarely encountered on these difficult issues. Your prose glows with experienced conviction and love.”
Excerpts of 5-star reviews on Amazon
“Hope Into Practice: A How-To for Opening Hearts and Minds
Without feeling preached to, I learned new lessons in self-awareness, self-actualization, and activism, and gained a new “Jewish-positive” attitude…I think the book should be required reading for Jewish Studies and Women’s Studies courses…I recommend a slow, meditative reading, allowing the carefully chosen language to penetrate the heart, for Jews as well as gentiles, and for women as well as men and people of all genders, for anyone with a mind willing to be opened just a bit more by Penny Rosenwasser’s generous spirit.”
“You don’t have to be Jewish to read Hope into Practice.
Penny Rosenwasser’s book is beautifully written and an exhilarating read… Rosenwasser’s book gives me hope. It rekindled my spirituality, connection to community, and call to action…Rosenwasser quotes an activist who said, “There’s a new Jewish identity, one that is multigenerational, multiethnic, multisexual, a united front against bigotry and xenophobic nationalism, and for all forms of equality.” I can relate to that! …So whether or not you are Jewish, or religious, or a woman, many of the ideas in this brilliant book will resonate and inspire.”
“A timely, well written, enjoyable and profound book
I loved this book. It is so well written, with a big heart, deep analysis and a path for action. Timely and important information for all citizens of the world…Highly highly highly recommended.”
“A must read for everyone who longs for Peace with Justice
I found this book truly inspiring, enlightening to me as a Gentile woman. The hope and joy that shone through gave my great hope for the future. The sharing of the realities of the generational pain carried by Jewish women humbled me but also explained why Israel is so governed by fear…Reading this book was a very moving experience and I will be recommending it to others.”
“Essential Reading For Jewish Feminists Working For Peace In The Middle East!
…I really can’t recommend it enough…In this book, Rosenwasser makes the crucial point that Jewish liberation is interconnected with the liberation of all oppressed people, whether they are African-American, undocumented immigrants, queer or transgender, homeless, or Palestinian. Like Marc Ellis and Judith Plaskow, Rosenwasser proves that the prophetic Jewish voice is still alive. Emphasizing the importance for Jewish activists to heal ourselves of internalized anti-Semitism as we simultaneously work to transform unjust systems…,this book demands that we love ourselves enough to confront our fears without allowing them to control us.”