CONVERGENCE by Judith Bruder


A Reconciliation of Judaism and Christianity in the Life of One Woman
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 The emotional autobiography of a woman whose religious odyssey begins in Orthodox Judaism and ends in Roman Catholicism. What sets this apart from other conversion accounts is that Bruder (Going to Jerusalem, 1979) never rejects her heritage. She believes that ``God is present equally in Torah scroll and consecrated wafer.'' Nor does she argue that God wants all Jews to convert; her story applies to herself alone. It begins in Brooklyn, with a childhood dominated by a glum mother, a remote father, and by the strictness--especially toward women--of Orthodox Judaism. Joy comes with the great Shabbat celebrations, but God remains a distant, unknown figure. In time, Bruder grows up, marries, adopts a child, works for a doctorate. Then one day, stopped in her car at a red light, God speaks to her: ``I will be with you always,'' He says. From now on, Bruder becomes a religious seeker. She pores over the Bible, talks to rabbis, discovers Buddhism. Then life unravels: A novel goes nowhere, her academic career collapses. At wits' end, Bruder--in almost classic 12-step fashion--admits her inadequacy and surrenders to her fate (``This was the thing itself, bitter cup to the dregs''). A loving presence appears, a matron dressed in black, possibly the Virgin Mary (Bruder remains uncertain). The author discovers prayer. Once again, God addresses her, in Hebrew this time: ``Lech lecha'' (``get up and go out''). Bruder does, to Mass, and becomes a Catholic, receiving ``God's unconditional love and forgiveness.'' The onslaught of personal crises may grate on readers' nerves. So may Bruder's writerly tics, which include verbless sentences galore and enough one-sentence paragraphs (in one stretch, 14 in a row) to put Kurt Vonnegut to shame. But her singular conversion is memorable, as is her vivid description of Jewish Orthodoxy in all its severity and majesty.

Pub Date: Feb. 17th, 1993
ISBN: 0-385-46874-1
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1992