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Does the Soul Survive? 2nd Edition

A Jewish Journey to Belief in Afterlife, Past Lives & Living with Purpose

Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz
Foreword by Brian L. Weiss, MD

6 x 9, 288 pp, Quality Paperback, 978-1-58023-818-2

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Near-death experiences? Past-life regression? Reincarnation? Are these sorts of things Jewish?

“Belief in survival of the soul goes against the scientific model, which assumes that all phenomena are physical, are grounded in time, can be measured and have a rational explanation. Although there is no proof of heaven, there is evidence worthy of careful examination.... I invite you to read the many stories ahead that convey my own deliberations in the jury box and encourage you to come to your own conclusions.”

—from the Preface

Includes discussion guide for book clubs and study groups.

With candor, questioning and sharp-eyed scholarship, Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz recounts personal experiences and the firsthand accounts others have shared with him, which propelled his own journey from skeptic to believer that, indeed, the soul does survive bodily death.

From near-death experiences to reincarnation, past-life memory to the work of mediums, Rabbi Spitz explores what we are really able to know about the afterlife, and draws on Jewish texts to share that belief in these concepts—so often approached with reluctance—is in fact true to Jewish tradition.

In this updated second edition, Rabbi Spitz looks squarely at both sides of the issues, addressing, for example, the discrepancies in afterlife and reincarnation accounts. A new preface explains the impact the book had when first published and the ongoing conversation about the nature of our existence that has resulted.

“Readers will close this book wondering, questioning, perhaps recalling their own unexplainable moments of connection that transcend the five senses.”

NY Jewish Week

“Very worthwhile.... People do not know enough about the Jewish point of view on death and dying, and people need to know that reincarnation and afterlife is a fact. It’s about time and the time is now. This is a brilliant book that keeps you fascinated.”

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

“A wise, moving, carefully thought out and provocative first-person exploration into the immortality of the soul. Indispensable for anyone who has ever wondered about the mysteries of life before and after this one. A beautiful book.”

Lawrence Kushner, rabbi-in-residence, Hebrew Union College; author, Invisible Lines of Connection: Sacred Stories of the Ordinary and other books

“His initial reticence to believe people’s stories about life after death and past incarnations ... gives this book credibility even for skeptical philosophers like me.... Rabbi Spitz has me wondering!”

Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff, PhD, rector and professor of philosophy, American Jewish University

“Elegantly written.... Rabbi Elie Spitz’s ‘journey’ will inspire its readers to follow his example and search for what is meaningful in Jewish life and learning.”

Elie Wiesel

“Might provide emotional comfort and religious consolation for people who have lost loved ones.... Could persuade many of its readers to increase their compassion for all beings and to lead more purposeful lives by remaining mindful of the fragile, fleeting beauty of this world.... A provocative, interesting and compellingly honest book.”

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“See your (future) world in this life.... Read Rabbi Elie Spitz’s book and experience what your own intuition corroborates and you will not fear death at the end of your life’s journey.”

Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi (z"l), author, Davening: A Guide to Meaningful Jewish Prayer

“Profoundly moving.”

Jerusalem Report

“A very welcome addition to the all-too-meager bookshelf of works that attempt to find meaning in ancient doctrines by examining them in the context of the lives of real people.... Well organized and well written.... A book to make even inveterate rationalists rethink their approach to an article of ancient Jewish faith the rabbis deem to possess cardinal importance.... An accomplishment well worth lauding.”

Conservative Judaism

“A serious and sophisticated enquiry into an arena that many of us might easily dismiss.... Does a very good job of showing that the belief in some form of reincarnation is authentically rooted in the Jewish tradition.... Makes a powerful argument that belief in the survival of the soul may have useful spiritual and moral consequences.”


“Spitz’s compelling arguments may cement the beliefs of Jewish readers already receptive to the existence of the supernatural and open a doorway for doubters to reconceptualize life and death.”

Publishers Weekly

“Rabbi Spitz has taken a fascinating journey from skepticism to hope. No matter our ultimate conclusion, this record of that journey is certain to tantalize, intrigue and uplift the questing spirit.”

Rabbi David Wolpe, Sinai Temple, Los Angeles; author, Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times

“A path-breaking book. When Elie Spitz writes about Judaism and reincarnation, he not only examines relevant texts drawn from two thousand years of teaching, he integrates them with his own remarkable experiences. This is a book that has the capacity to expand your soul.”

Joseph Telushkin, author, Jewish Literacy and other works

“Whether or not we believe, having the conversation about the continued existence of the soul contributes to the healing. Opening to the possibility that there is more than a rigid and unpenetrable curtain between the worlds allows us to approach loss with questions. These call forth creative possibilities for continuing our connection with those we have lost.”

Rabbi Anne Brener, LCSW, internationally recognized bereavement therapist; author, Mourning & Mitzvah: A Guided Journey to Walking the Mourner’s Path Through Grief to Healing

“Rabbi Spitz is not your grandfather’s old rabbi. He explores issues of life and death that go back to our earliest traditions and go forward into the next millennium. He proves that Judaism is a many branched menorah with something important for everyone. He shows how to explore the deepest reaches of mind, body, and spirit—and do it Jewishly.”

Alan M. Dershowitz, author, The Vanishing American Jew

“Rabbi Spitz has treated a topic that many approach with doubts in a learned, cogent, Jewishly informed, and, above all, human manner. His personal touch, as well as his mastery of both classical Jewish and modern historical, philosophical and psychological writings on the topic of the soul and its transmigration makes for challenging and thoughtful reading.... Indicates that Judaism has a great deal to say about a subject that is all-too-often exclusively associated in the popular mind with eastern religions. Readers of all stripes and faiths will be provoked and moved by this book.”

Rabbi David Ellenson, PhD, president, Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion

“With intelligence and compassion, Rabbi Spitz has written a beautiful book that explores one of life’s great mysteries—what exists beyond life. His look at the subject is so compelling because he draws both on ancient Jewish tradition and on the contemporary experience of Americans.... An important book that will change your thinking about life—and the afterlife.”

Ari L. Goldman, author, The Search for God at Harvard

“A wonderful book on the afterlife. It fills a great void in this area. It is carefully researched and articulately presented. I loved it.”

Rabbi Abner Weiss, PhD, author, Connecting to God: Ancient Kabbalah and Modern Psychology

“A multi-leveled, informative, laudable and inspiring account of an open-minded and open-hearted investigation into a subject for the most part not considered ‘Jewish.’”

Spirit of Change

“Elie Spitz provides a map for some very tricky territory. With admirable candor and real openness of heart, he leads his readers through contemporary and traditional views of the soul, its nature and purposes.... He is clear without being simplistic, inspiring without beating a drum for his views. I know of no book on the soul which so seamlessly blends the personal and the scholarly. Rabbi Spitz brings to this subject a passion and clarity which will engage and enlighten his readers.”

Peter Pitzele, PhD, author, Our Fathers’ Wells: A Personal Encounter with the Myths of Genesis

“Elie Spitz’s personal quest for an understanding of the soul and afterlife benefits all who read this remarkable book. In the tradition of Dr. Brian Weiss, he brings credibility and a religious context to belief in reincarnation. Even the skeptic will be swayed by Rabbi Spitz’s personal experiences.”

Rabbi Stewart Vogel, co-author, New York Times bestseller The Ten Commandments

“Rabbi Elie Spitz masterfully blends scholarship, inspiration and information.... His courageous, heartfelt journey into unknown territory will most assuredly survive with his soul.”

Nancy Rosanoff, author, Knowing When It’s Right

“Rabbi Spitz ... eloquently, compassionately and authoritatively documents his own journey.... A much needed, thoroughly documented link for the twenty-first-century Jew..... Intelligent and inspiring, it is a welcome tool for healers and those looking for a greater understanding of humanity as a whole. A book destined to become a classic reference.”

So Young!

“Rabbi Spitz has taken our most profound human question and given us an exciting journey into religious, historical and present-day answers.... This inspirational book shows us just how important living our purpose is.”

Carol Adrienne, PhD, author, The Purpose of Your Life

 “Rabbi Elie Spitz writes with complete candor and impressive scholarship.... Comprehensive.... Informative, challenging, at times controversial, but thought provoking and firmly grounded in Jewish scholarship.”

Wisconsin Bookwatch

“Spitz is a lively writer, and he brings new vigor to such long-debated topics as reincarnation.... The scope and perspective will give this account [wide] appeal.”

American Library Association’s Booklist

“Will interest people wanting to read a Jewish response to the concept of a soul’s existence after death.... A useful resource.”

Library Journal

“Makes a convincing and persuasive case.... An impressive and highly recommended contribution to Judaism and metaphysical studies.”

Midwest Book Review

“Whether readers accept Rabbi Spitz’s view about life after death, reject it completely, or remain an agnostic regarding it, readers will enjoy the rabbi’s analyses and the many stories that he tells to support his view, and will be stimulated by the discussions to think more deeply about this and related subjects.”

Jewish Eye

“In Does the Soul Survive? Rabbi Spitz allows all of us to take that same journey of soul: to be able to look without fear through the healing lens of faith at what it means to be alive, what it means to be human, what it means to be God’s child. Anyone who reads this book will find it, as I did, uplifting, insightful and profoundly true. It transforms all our lives for the better.”

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, dean, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, American Jewish University; author, Passing Life’s Tests: Spiritual Reflections on the Trial of Abraham, the Binding of Isaac

Brian L. Weiss, MD, the nation’s foremost expert on past-life regression therapy, is chairman emeritus of psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami.


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978-1-58023-669-0 Believing and Its Tensions
978-1-58023-081-0 Death of Death: Resurrection and Immortality in Jewish Thought
978-1-58023-407-8 Seven Questions You're Asked in Heaven
978-1-58023-852-6 Jewish Book of Grief and Healing
978-1-879045-55-2 Grief in Our Seasons: A Mourner's Kaddish Companion


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