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Listen to Louis E. Newman on NPR’s
On Being with Krista Tippet


The Meaning and Practice of Teshuvah

By Dr. Louis E. Newman
Foreword by Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis
Preface by Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar

6 x 9, 256 pp, Quality Paperback, 978-1-58023-718-5

Click below to purchase


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Listen to Louis E. Newman on NPR’s
On Being with Krista Tippet


An inspiring way to reclaim your integrity and renew your sense of moral purpose.

“Like water, teshuvah is both destructive and creative. It dissolves the person you were but simultaneously provides the moisture you need to grow anew. It erodes the hard edges of your willfulness but also refreshens your spirit. It can turn the tallest barriers of moral blindness into rubble while it also gently nourishes the hidden seeds of hope buried deep in your soul. Teshuvah, like water, has the power both to wash away past sin and to shower you with the blessing of a new future, if only you trust it and allow yourself to be carried along in its current.”

            —from Part VII

In this candid and comprehensive probe into the nature of moral transgression and spiritual healing, Dr. Louis E. Newman examines both the practical and philosophical dimensions of teshuvah, Judaism’s core religious-moral teaching on repentance, and its value for us—Jews and non-Jews alike—today. He exposes the inner logic of teshuvah as well as the beliefs about God and humankind that make it possible. He also charts the path of teshuvah, revealing to us how we can free ourselves from the burden of our own transgressions by:
• Acknowledging our transgressions • Confessing • Feeling remorse • Apologizing
• Making restitution • Soul reckoning • Avoiding sin when the next opportunity arises

“Perfect for reading in daily doses ... eloquently [explains] the components of the teshuvah process, and [the] factors that people encounter and struggle with.”

Jewish Book World

“Masterful.... [Newman’s] analysis of sin and repentance is ... much clearer, much deeper, and more adequate to the phenomena of sin and repentance than any previous treatment of the subject.”

Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff, PhD, rector and distinguished professor of philosophy, American Jewish University; author, The Jewish Approach to Repairing the World (Tikkun Olam): A Brief Introduction for Christians

“Thought-provoking.... Anyone looking to change their lives by addressing their shortcomings and rectifying them will find Newman’s work a good place to start.”     

Jewish Federation of Broome County Reporter

“Clear.... [A] fine book.”

Jewish Eye

“Contains a wealth of material on ... the nature, dynamics and inevitability of human wrongdoing ... and the ways in which Jewish tradition offers a programmatic, almost step-by-step, approach towards taking renewed responsibility for our actions.”


“Blesses [us] with insights into the frailty and divinity of the soul. Dr. Newman teaches us that the past can be transformed, the sinner can be reborn, the God of justice can become the God of forgiveness. In short, he has given us the way of hope.”

Rabbi Naomi Levy, author, To Begin Again and Talking to God

“Easy to read.... Recommended.”

Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter

“Wise and encouraging, positive and practical, cautioning against despair, underlining the hope that the past can lead to a better future.”

New York Jewish Week

“Beautiful, wise, thorough ... reminds us that our greatness will not be judged by our supposedly grand accomplishments, but by how each of us deals with our inevitable moral failings, however great or small.”

Rabbi Nancy Flam, co-director of programs, Institute for Jewish Spirituality

“Understandable and comprehensible.... Exemplary.... Gives our faith and its quest for human spiritual progress a new and refined purpose.”

Jewish Star

“In easily accessible language both religiously and psychologically informed, Newman guides us through our own return. Don’t go near the High Holy Days without this wise and inspiring moral classic.”

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, Emanu-El Scholar, Congregation Emanu-El, San Francisco; author, The Way Into Jewish Mystical Tradition and Kabbalah: A Love Story

“Mines Jewish sources and world literature for insights into the central dilemma of human existence—our seemingly inveterate tendency to hurt and destroy—and how to blunt that tendency and start again.”

CJ: Voices of Conservative/Masorti Judaism

“Amazing. Readers seeking to redress their own misdeeds will find not only a gentle guiding toward the path of repentance but a treasury of Jewish wisdom about that path.”

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director, The Shalom Center; author, Godwrestling—Round 2

“A unique ... well researched ... moving account of the spiritual dimension of Jewishly transforming ourselves…. A spiritual GPS that reminds us where we might have made a wrong turn and how we can recalculate and get back on the right path.”


Dr. Louis E. Newman is the John M. and Elizabeth W. Musser Professor of Religious Studies at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. He is author of Past Imperatives: Studies in the History and Theory of Jewish Ethics; An Introduction to Jewish Ethics; and the LifeLights™ pastoral care booklet Doing Teshuvah: Undoing Mistakes, Repairing Relationships and Finding Inner Peace (Jewish Lights). Dr. Newman is available for scholar-in-residence weekends and repentance workshops.

Dr. Louis Newman is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Repentance: It's Easier Than You Think, It's Harder Than You Imagine
  • Curses and Stumbling-blocks: How to Relate to the Vulnerable among Us
  • Judaism and Politics: Is Torah Liberal or Conservative?
  • Whistle-blowing: Am I My Brother’s (and Sister’s) Keeper?
  • The Narrative and the Normative: The Value of Stories for Jewish Ethics

Click here to contact the author.


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978-1-58023-396-5 Life's Daily Blessings: Inspiring Reflections on Gratitude and Joy for Every Day ...
978-1-58023-437-5 Rosh Hashanah Readings (PB)
978-1-58023-438-2 Yom Kippur Readings (PB)
978-1-58023-301-9 God's To-Do List: 103 Ways to Be an Angel and Do God’s Work on Earth
978-1-58023-417-7 Making Prayer Real
978-1-58023-402-3 Formula for Proper Living: Practical Lessons from Life and Torah


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