Some dream of fortune, Some dream of fame, Some dream of things They’ve never seen. Stop, recharge, Our courage large, We’re travelling towards a dream.*
Lulu Press, 2020
Reviewed by Ralph Wintrob
TORONTO. September 13, 2022 – Corinne Copnick is a wonder. After a lifelong career as an actress, art gallery owner, writer, and editor, in her 70s, she embarked on a remarkable new journey, to become a rabbi. After six years of study, at The Academy of Jewish Learning, in Los Angeles, at the age of 79, in 2015, she was ordained, and began a new career, when most of us are putting the challenges of life to rest. She serves as a Dayan, leads a pluralistic study group, and is a guest rabbi on lengthy cruises.
This book is a product of her first seven cruises…to the four corners of the earth. Some of the cruises overlapped with Jewish Holy Days, High Holidays, and Pesach, which presented special challenges, outlined briefly here.
For example, in need of a shofar blower, the only volunteer turned out to be a ‘Messianic Jew’, who was an amateur trumpeter, and was so moved by the trop Rabbi Copnick taught him, and the opportunity to be part of the High Holiday services, he determined to convert and become fully Jewish.
But the religious side of the cruises Rabbi Copnick deals with only briefly. Most of the book is given over to snapshot impressions of the wondrous places she visited on the cruises, mostly on guided tours. But occasionally she would veer off the derech, ever looking for traces of Jewish life or heritage.
Rabbi Copnick has a sharp eye and describes what impresses her vividly, be its natural wonders, like the explosion of marine and jungle life where the Rio Negro meets the Amazon, or a manmade wonder, shaped out of lava on the island of Lanzarote, in the Canaries, into an amphitheatre with seating for 1200 shaped out of lava rock, overlooking the sea, that Rabbi Copnick imagines as the perfect setting for Jewish ceremonial, or speculation about the origins of the Mayan people, visiting ruins in Guatemala, their culture so advanced, they must be an offshoot of the ten lost tribes, or perhaps descendants of Enoch, who lived during the time of the Tower of Babel when the peoples were dispersed by an act of divine retribution.
Rabbi Copnick’s insights are sharp, her descriptions vivid, always personal and sensitive, suffused with awe at human and divine creations. I finished the book asking myself why I have missed out, having seen so little of the world. Using Rabbi Copnick’s guide, I long to venture into wonder with the fervour she describes so well in the preface poem above. But even without a first-hand view, I can honestly say, having read your book, Rabbi Copnick, I feel as if I’ve been there right along with you.♦
Credits: rabbicorinne.com; *Rabbi Corinne Copnick
Ralph Wintrob is a former journalist, teacher-librarian
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