PILGRIMAGE: Adventures of a Wandering Jew by Perle Epstein

PILGRIMAGE: Adventures of a Wandering Jew

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KIRKUS REVIEW

One of the rabbis that Perle Epstein came across in her hungry search for someone to teach her Kabbalah told her that the operative words were ""I don't know."" This seems not to have satisfied her. A college professor and writer on mysticism, she began, in 1975, to hanker seriously for the anarchism and immediacy not of Eastern philosophies but of that closest to home, not for the mere ""religious technology"" of Hinduism but for that planted around her own roots: ""How could this tricky consciousness have led me so far from the target, urging me to look for a system anywhere else but on the ground where I stood?"" So it's off to Israel, three different times, where Epstein entreats various rays (here pseudonymous) for help. But no matter how fascinating the sage or how warm he seems, all she's fed are deflecting crumbs; the rabbis are unwilling to comit the Kaballah to a woman. Epstein's nothing if not persistent; her constant knocking at the closed gates, as told in her artless and honest way, seems almost comic after a while. Like any seeker, Epstein would classify the confusion of ideas, importunings, arcana, and portraiture in this book as divine; but confusion it is nevertheless, sometimes snide or narcissistic or stubborn or plain silly. Not the book for anyone trying to get closer to It, but endearing for its tenacious effort.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1979
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin