Congregational Libraries Today, a publication of the Church & Synagogue Library Association, reviews With An Outstretched Arm:
This appealing memoir traces two interconnected journeys: a spiritual journey from a youth grounded in the Reform Jewish community of Atlanta to an orthodox-based life of observance, and a journey of healing following the tragic death of the author’s daughter, Ruth, at the hands of a drunk driver.
The Passover Seder provides the spine of this story. The memoir opens with a Passover scene, the family welcoming a “survivor” of the Exodus from Egypt; a scene that introduces us to Ruth and to a subtext of the book: how to balance ritual and ethical actions. Passover tales help focus the reader on the changes in the author’s life.
The author describes her journey as climbing a ladder. There was no sudden leap into traditional observance; rather it was a slow process of growth, intellectual struggle, experimentation, and acceptance. She provides a worthy model for all seekers who wish to consider their own journey.
Ruth’s death is devastating. The author shares her journey of grief honestly. We see her existential struggles with God and tradition. We follow her efforts to reestablish equilibrium in her life.
Clearly and simply written, one never doubts the honesty of this account. The author’s self-exploration provides a backdrop to an equally important portrait of changes that have moved Jewish life over the past half-century or more. Highly recommended. —Rabbi Louis A. Rieser