One Family: Indivisible: A Spiritual Memoir
by Steven Greenebaum
MSI Press

"Each of us can make a difference. And together, we can all make a difference."

Author Greenebaum's childhood was spent as a member of a respectable Jewish family in a safe, all-Jewish neighborhood of Los Angeles. At the age of about six, he heard grownups discussing the Holocaust, forging a deep, lasting impression. He realized, "I am Jewish," and some people, not just Hitler but Americans, even Christians, hated Jews. Greenebaum was sometimes bullied by other children because of his small frame, invoking yet another "life lesson" about the perils of mob consciousness. In the sixth grade, after some years of religious education, a voice, the first but not the last, spoke to him, saying, "They are killing each other in my name. Stop it." Looking back, he believes that message changed his life. As a thoughtful young person, he would grapple inwardly with such issues as pride. Should he be proud of his accomplishments or avoid any form of self-congratulation?

This ability to examine many sides of a single topic pervaded his life at many turns, influencing his university experience where choosing a major was based on a complex series of circumstances. It involved not only his interest in the subject matter but his relationships with professors and even with his father, whose domineering stance finally forced Greenebaum to move out and support himself. His first introduction to singing in a choir convinced him that music would be a prime mover in his future, though physical limitations would prevent him from being a lead singer. From choral singing to choir direction, he entered the realm of Christian worship and thence to contact with the Unitarian Universalist church. The group's doctrines struck a chord with him as he gradually developed his sense of inclusive religious faith, underpinned by yet more messages from a mystical source. He made another of his inwardly driven choices by not completing a degree in his belief system's ministry. Instead, he holds master's degrees in mythology, music, and pastoral studies, indicating the wide range of his interests over the years. He fulfilled a longtime goal when he founded the Living Interfaith Church and has taken a studious, activist interest in topical, humanitarian issues, as indicated by his support of the Standing Rock Sioux peoples and involvement in numerous environmental concerns.

Greenebaum's spiritual philosophy, as propounded here, combines erudition and eclecticism. Devout within his family faith, Greenebaum's etheric messages have indicated a need for a spirituality that can be shared with people of all religious persuasions. In recent years the Living Interfaith Church has flourished with the active participation of Cathy Merchant, whom Greenebaum has supported in her assumption of ministerial roles as he began to battle critical physical challenges. He presents his notable memoir with verve, sensitivity, and a light-hearted sense of self-mockery as he recalls past missteps. His book also provides enough intimate recollection to reveal to the reader a person always determined, with his eye continually on the prize of human kindness and overarching forgiveness. Greenebaum's memories have the power to evoke both laughter and tears, and his dedication to religious sharing will likely attract readers from a broad scope of beliefs and aspirations.

A 2021 Eric Hoffer Book Award Category Finalist

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