The Mystical Exodus in Jungian Perspective explores the soul loss that results from personal, collective, and transgenerational trauma and the healing that unfolds through reconnection with the sacred. Personal narratives of disconnection from and reconnection to Jewish collective memory are illuminated by millennia of Jewish mystical wisdom, contemporary Jewish Renewal and feminist theology, and Jungian and trauma theory.
The archetypal resonance of the Exodus story guides our exploration. Understanding exile as disconnection from the Divine Self, we follow Moses, keeper of the spiritual fire, and Serach bat Asher, preserver of ancestral memory. We encounter the depths with Joseph, touch collective grief with Lilith, experience the Red Sea crossing and Miriam’s well as psychological rebirth and Sinai as the repatterning of traumatized consciousness.
Tracing the reawakening of the qualities of eros and relatedness on the journey out of exile, the book demonstrates how restoring and deepening relationship with the Sacred Feminine helps us to transform collective trauma.
This text will be key reading for scholars of Jewish studies, Jungian and post-Jungian studies, feminist spirituality, trauma studies, Jungian analysts and psychotherapists, and those interested in healing from personal and collective trauma.
Cover art: 'Radiance' by Elaine Greenwood
Table of Contents
Chapter One: The Beloved, Knocking
PART I: An Historical Overview of Jewish Mysticism and Psychology (On One Foot)
Chapter Two: Renewing Jewish Mysticism
Chapter Three: Judaism and Psychology
PART II: Rupture
Chapter Four: Exile
PART III: The Awakening
Chapter Five: Women, Copper Mirrors, and Awakening from the Trance of Exile
Chapter Six: Moses and Awakening the Spiritual Fire
Chapter Seven: Shattered Vessels, Scattered Seeds
PART IV: The Healing
Chapter Eight: Serach Bat Asher and Healing the Ruptured Bridge to Collective Memory
Chapter Nine: Joseph—Light out of Darkness
Chapter Ten: Lilith, the Dark Feminine, and the Redemptive Power of Grief
PART V: The Promise
Chapter Eleven: The Watery Initiation and Learning to Trust the Ground of Being
Chapter Twelve: The Fiery Initiation and Moving
Shoshana Fershtman, JD, PhD, is a Jungian analyst and psychologist in Sonoma County, California, USA. She is a member analyst and teaches at the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco, and served as core faculty at the Sonoma State University Depth Psychology program. She has studied Jewish mysticism with teachers from the Jewish Renewal and Reconstructing Judaism movements, and has taught extensively on Jewish mysticism, transgenerational trauma, and the Sacred Feminine. Her work as an attorney focused on advocacy for environmental and social justice and indigenous rights.
"Shoshana Fershtman’s The Mystical Exodus in Jungian Perspective is testimony to the power of narrative and myth to heal trauma and provide meaning in our lives. Her book is a significant contribution to our understanding of the roles of Jewish myth and mysticism, the divine feminine, and archetypal psychology in the revitalization of Judaism in a post-Holocaust world. Dr. Fershtman provides us with a profound path for reconnecting with the cultural collective unconscious of Jewish life." – Sanford Drob, author of Kabbalistic Visions: C. G. Jung and Jewish Mysticism
"The most compelling thing about this beautiful book is that the author anchors it in her own lost and re-found story of exile within the Jewish community. Her awakening and return begins at a tearfully redemptive moment when her heart opens in a temple sanctuary, and later as she slowly realizes that the broken shards of her own painful personal story, were carried unconsciously throughout her exile inside a much larger, ancient Jewish story—the sacred Covenant between God and man—in psychological language the archetypal covenant between ego and Self. Sometimes trauma is the only thing that breaks us open to this larger reality that sustains us and leads us home to ourselves—and to others who are courageous enough to share their own heartbreak. This book carries a profound message for our time of spiritual and psychological ‘exile.’ It shows us a way home. I cannot recommend it highly enough." – Donald E. Kalsched, PhD, author of Trauma and the Soul: A Psycho-spiritual Approach to Human Development and its Interruption
"The Mystical Exodus in Jungian Perspective is a feast! With lucid and engaging prose that at times reads like poetry, Fershtman explores how the contemporary movement called Jewish Renewal revitalizes Jewish ancestral wisdom, elevating the mystical dimension and the Divine Feminine in Judaism. Fershtman weaves moving personal stories of engagement with Jewish Renewal teachings and practices seen through the archetypal lens of the Exodus story. Here we discover layers of insight—brilliant midrashic and mystical wisdom that enabled Jews to overcome millennia of collective trauma, and offers us a pathway to reconnect with the sacred in our own time." – Rabbi Marcia Prager, Director and Dean of Ordination Programs for ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, author of The Path of Blessing
"This is a book of a lifetime—both for the author and the reader. Shoshana Fershtman has documented her own and others’ personal spiritual journeys of transformation in the context of the Jewish Renewal movement that taps into the cultural and archetypal dimensions of the vitality of spirit and soul—specifically Jewish but in some ways about the wellspring of renewal potentially available in any spiritual awakening." – Thomas Singer, Jungian Analyst, author of The Cultural Complex and Cultural Complexes and the Soul of America
"Dr. Fershtman has gifted us with an extraordinary book that is both vast in scope and deep in personal passion. By telling the stories of our personal passages from dislocation and trauma to belonging and wholeness, we can know ourselves as unique and precious expressions of the significant social and religious movements that are awakening our world. The Mystical Exodus in Jungian Perspective is a guide for consciously stepping onto the path of liberation by shining a light on the mythic and mystical dimensions of our inheritance. This book gave me a profound sense of pride, pleasure, and comfort in understanding the Jewish Renewal Movement as a vital force of healing in a world that yearns for wholeness." – Rabbi Shefa Gold, author of Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to the Promised Land
"There is a saying in Jewish intellectual circles that the Talmudists become Freudians and the mystics become Jungians. Shoshana Fershtman, in this highly creative work, is able to combine the best of both these worlds, the mystical and the intellectual—an outstanding achievement! Courageously sharing experiences from her own and others’ lives, and drawing on the inspiration of the Jewish mystical tradition as well as aspects of … Jungian approaches to life, Dr. Fershtman has crafted a book that cries out to be read by us all." – Aryeh Maidenbaum, PhD, Director, NY Center for Jungian Studies, author of Jung and the Shadow of Anti-Semitism and Lingering Shadows: Jungians, Freudians, and Anti-Semitism
"A beautifully written, authoritative guide to the history, evolution, and contemporary renaissance of the Jewish mystical tradition that integrates Biblical myth and personal narrative with insights from Jungian psychology. Fershtman’s deep compassion and wisdom shine through the stories she tells that demonstrate how spiritual seekers may find healing and transformation by embracing their ancestral roots." – Estelle Frankel, MFT, author of Sacred Therapy and The Wisdom of Not Knowing
"The Mystical Exodus in Jungian Perspective is Shoshana Fershtman’s work of imagination and scholarship. Through her deep immersion into the roots of Jewish mysticism, mythic traditions, and analytical psychology she allows us to see possibilities to open up spaces for holding our collective and personal healing of the ‘millennial old’ collective traumas and cultural catastrophes." – Sam Kimbles, PhD, author of Phantom Narratives: The Unseen Contributions of Culture to Psyche and The Suffering of Ghosts: Intergenerational Complexes in Analytical Psychology
"So grateful to Dr. Shoshana Fershtman for giving us a masterful and meticulously researched integration of Jungian thought and Biblical metaphor. And that expertise is amplified by her contemporary feminist perspective. A ‘must read’ for spiritual seekers of all faiths." – Rabbi Leah Novick, author of On The Wings of Shekhinah: Re-Discovering Judaism’s Divine Feminine
"An important book with a potent message about the contagious nature of trauma and how it filters unimpeded through the generations. The courageous transparency with which the author interpolates within this exploration her own personal story will not only touch the hearts of the traumatized but will also deeply inform anyone engaged in the healing of trauma whether professionally or academically. The book’s creative weave of relevant studies and moving anecdotes will undoubtedly earn its place amid the annals of literature on the science and treatment of trauma, in particular in regard to children of Holocaust survivors. No less valuable, however, is the book’s vivid demonstration of the power of mythology in enriching our life journeys." – Rabbi Gershon Winkler, author of Magic of the Ordinary: Recovering the Shamanic in Judaism
"Dr. Fershtman exquisitely examines the history, mythology, and evolution of Judaism analyzing disconnection, particularly of Jews, from the sacred imagination of Judaism. Utilizing the archetypal theme of Exodus—a journey from exile to redemption—she illuminates Judaism’s resurgence in the psyche. Writing reverently on the influence of trauma in Judaism, she shares poignant, liberating human stories of coming out from exile and into relationship with Jewish consciousness—journeys which reveal our spiritual essence." – Helen Marlo, PhD, Professor, Notre Dame de Namur University, Psychologist, author of The Spiritual Psyche: Intersubjectivity, Mysticism and Psychoanalysis in Clinical Practice
"Drawing on Exodus, Jewish sources, and Jungian psychology, Shoshana Fershtman recounts her own and others’ remarkable personal and collective journeys toward Jewish Renewal and a more Feminine Judaism. Highly Recommended." – Professor Henry Abramovitch, Founding President, Israel Institute of Jungian Psychology. Co-author of The Analyst and the Rabbi
"I traveled through the pages of Shoshana Fershtman’s book as if I was following a road map into caverns, over mountains, through deserts, and across oceans. It is no easy journey with the troop of ancestors. Moses leads the people out of slavery and into the promised land. They were gifted ears to hear God’s voice in a burning bush and driven into despair with Lilith through intergenerational darkness. Each chapter demonstrated a spiritual weaving of Judaism, thousands of years of Jewish history, modern-day psychoanalysis, inner conflict, human desire, and the mystery of why the people move forward. As I continued reading, there was an emergence into a deeper realization of holiness, a longing to unveil the infinite light of the divine within my soul. I came away from the book with an understanding that our individual life is interwoven with ancestral consciousness and an awareness of ritual and spiritual bonds." – Tu Bears, author of Infinite Footprints: Daily Wisdom to Ignite Your Creative Expression in Walking Your True Path and contributor, Reinventing the Enemies Language, Contemporary Native Women’s Writings of North America
"The Mystical Exodus in Jungian Perspective explores how historical forces of collective trauma and assimilation result in separation from and forgetting the ancestral wisdom tradition of Judaism, including the mystical tradition based in transrational consciousness. Drawing on the authors’ own and others’ individual stories of separation and return, we see how addressing historical trauma and its ramifications in the personal psyche creates a pathway to healing the connection with the ancestors, with the sacred, and with what Jung called the Self." – Jerome Bernstein, author of Living In the Borderland: The Evolution of Consciousness and the Challenge of Healing Trauma and "Collective Shadow Integration: Atonement" in Jung and the Shadow of Anti-Semitism