In 2009, New York Times bestselling author Sara Davidson was surprised by a call from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, asking her to engage with him in what he called "The December Project." At eighty-five, Reb Zalman wanted to teach people how to navigate the December of life and to help them "not freak out about dying."
Davidson jumped at the chance. She feared that death would be a complete annihilation, while Reb Zalman felt certain that "something continues." For two years, they met every Friday to discuss this and how getting "up close with mortality" quickens our ability to relish every day.
Woven through their talks are sketches from Reb Zalman's life: escaping the Nazis; becoming an orthodox rabbi in the U.S.; landing in San Francisco during the sexual revolution; taking L.S.D. with Timothy Leary; befriending other faith leaders, including Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama; and founding the Jewish Renewal movement.
During their time together, Davidson was nearly killed by a suicide bomb and Reb Zalman faced a steep decline in health. They created strategies to deal with pain and memory loss and found tools to cultivate fearlessness and joy--at any age. Davidson includes twelve exercises so readers can experience what she did, a sea change in facing what we all must face: mortality.
About the Author
Sara Davidson is the New York Times bestselling author of eight books, including Loose Change; Joan: Forty Years of Life, Loss, and Friendship with Joan Didion; and Leap! Davidson has written for the New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, Harper's, The Atlantic, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and more, and has been featured on The Today Show and 60 Minutes, as well as on public radio. Davidson lives in Boulder, Colorado.
Half the author's proceeds go to support the work of Reb Zalman.
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi founded the Jewish Renewal movement and is a preeminent rabbi, teacher, and professor emeritus at Temple University. He is widely recognized as one of the most important Jewish spiritual teachers of our generation and has published more than 150 books and articles.