Delight
by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein


Ladybug Press, 2004. ISBN 1889409251.
Reviewed by Trilla Pando
Posted on 05/03/2005

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Faith/Spirituality/Inspiration

Have you ever been so intrigued, so consumed by a book that it seemed as if the author's voice spoke the words?

In Delight, the aptly named book by Barbara Becker Holstein, you do hear the author's voice plus some fascinating music. It is not a book you "can't put down," however, because you never pick it up! Delight is a multimedia book with a CD—delivering its intriguing message, haunting melodies and enchanting illustrations on the computer screen.

The book is a welcome reminder of the importance of tradition and ritual in life. It is both a memoir and a guide. Dr. Holstein recounts her own journey to a recognition and embracing of her Jewish heritage. But her tale is not only for those of the Jewish faith. The author stresses that women from many backgrounds can use this book as a guide to regaining their own traditional values. "There comes a time in every woman's life for delight," she tells us. Regaining our heritage is a powerful path to this delight. Her own recognition of her need to return to her faith and practices was inspired by a visit to an Amish home. While observing the devout wife lead a fulfilled life, she acknowledged her own needs and shortly thereafter initiated her journey.

Each chapter of this book recounts a stop on the journey—of finding a teacher, realizing the importance of tradition during a bread-making lesson, being incorporated into a broad fellowship at a traditional wedding—and then does more. Holstein closed each chapter with a section called "Pondering," which offers guidance and suggestions for the reader who is setting out (or well along) on her own journey. The author explains that this book is the result of ten years of constant journaling and urges others to use journaling and the techniques and exercises in "Pondering" to further their own explorations.

Holstein is the author of The Enchanted Self: A Positive Therapy. Readers of that book will remember that Holstein believes that often we are unhappy not only because of the hurts of the past and disappointments of the present, but also because we do not remember being happy. Retrieving happy memories and reliving them is the first step to reclaiming balance and wholeness in life.

Delight continues this positive approach. Early on, the author states that it is a woman's "birthright to live a life of joy." Many of the exercises involve creating joyful moments whether recalling family traditions, looking at opportunities for joy in community connections or creating "acts of kindness" as a gift to the world.

I do not come from a Jewish background, but I readily related to Holstein's personal journey and could find many parallels of her experience in my own life as I seek out my own families and their traditions.

The idea of seeking happiness and creating joyous and positive experiences is fascinating. So much focus in many memoirs is on rough, hard, traumatic events. Darkness and shadow dominate. To come into the fresh light and brightness of this book is a delight indeed, and one that calls to be shared. "We're all connected," Holstein reminds us. "One person's happiness is another person's happiness. Just as one person's tragedy is another person's tragedy."

Delight is a joy to read and engage in. I shall return to it often.

Check out our interview with the author of Delight.

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