Who is Terry Bookman?
I exist to be a connector—connecting people to themselves (allowing for awareness and insight, as well as wholeness and personal growth); to one another (creating sacred community); and to God (linking themselves to a Higher Purpose in all they do in life). While my primary “container” is Judaism which challenges us to lead a life of holiness, I draw from the truths I have discovered in all faith traditions, meditation, centering prayer, and yoga, psychology, literature, science, the arts, the human potential movement, popular culture, leadership and organizational theory, philosophy, politics, anthropology, and history. And always with a sense of humor.
For more than four decades I have been both an insider and an outlier in the Jewish community having worked and volunteered within the Jewish establishment as well as outside of it. The eclectic nature of my youth growing up in New York City influenced my search and path both out of and then back into Jewish life. I was an early pioneer in the Chavurah Movement, started the Hillel at Sarah Lawrence College, and created numerous interfaith dialogue and support groups. For the entirety of my rabbinic career I was blessed to be able to share my passion and my gifts with two very special communities—Temple Sinai in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Temple Beth Am in Miami, Florida. Together, with dedicated volunteers and professionals we were able to transform both synagogues into vibrant centers of Jewish life. Whether it was teaching or preaching; Board meetings or committee planning; standing together in the sacred moments of the cycle of life or swaying together in communal prayer; the synagogue became a true center, holding us as one with the One.
I am the author of three books on Jewish spirituality, as well as the co-author of one on synagogue life. My latest book, Beyond Survival, challenges the current limiting agenda of the Jewish establishment while offering a coherent vision for thriving in the 21st century. I have also co-authored three albums of contemporary Jewish songs and music aimed at elevating all aspects in the cycle of life, holy days, and all the days in between. I have delivered talks and workshops throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Israel and have published numerous articles as well as poetry. I have been honored to be called “a rabbi’s rabbi” by my colleagues across the denominational streams of Judaism; as well as “a rabbi who speaks Christian” by Christian colleagues. I hold various degrees and certifications as well as training at the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy in Chicago.
Since retiring from the pulpit in 2015 I have taken on the challenge of guiding an “Era of “Transgeneration” for the Mastery Foundation, a transformational interfaith organization which has challenged my leadership and nurtured me for decades. My current book project has the working title, Centered: Life in the Balance.
I am the proud father of four sons, three daughters-in-law, and two delicious grandchildren (and counting)! Talk about an abundance of riches!