My guest is Angela Himsel. Her new book is a memoir entitled A River Could Be a Tree. From the time she was a young girl, Himsel believed that the Bible was the guidebook to being saved, and only strict adherence to the church's tenets could allow her to escape a certain, gruesome death, receive the Holy Spirit, and live forever in the Kingdom of God. With self-preservation in mind, she decided, at nineteen, to study at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. But instead of strengthening her faith, Himsel was introduced to a whole new world—one with different people and perspectives. Her eyes were slowly opened to the church's shortcomings, even dangers, and fueled her natural tendency to question everything she had been taught, including the guiding principles of the church and the words of the Bible itself.
Ultimately, the connection to God she so relentlessly pursued was found in the most unexpected place: a mikvah on Manhattan's Upper West Side. This devout Christian Midwesterner found her own form of salvation—as a practicing Jewish woman.
Himsel's seemingly impossible road from childhood cult to a committed Jewish life is traced in and around the major events of the 1970s and 80s with warmth, humor, and a multitude of religious and philosophical insights. A River Could Be a Tree: A Memoir is a fascinating story of struggle, doubt, and finally, personal fulfillment.
Angela Himsel is a freelance writer based in New York City whose work has appeared in _The New York Times, The Jewish Week, the Forward, Lilith Magazine, BOMB Magazine _and several other outlets. Her weekly column “Angetevka” on Zeek.net examined her life as an observant Jew on Manhattan’s Upper West Side against the backdrop of her fundamentalist Christian upbringing in Jasper, Indiana. For this body of work, Himsel received the American Jewish Press Association’s Rockower Award for Excellence in Commentary. She holds a BA in religious studies from Indiana University, which included a two-year stint studying at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and also has an MFA in creative writing from The City College of New York. Himsel is represented by The Deborah Harris Agency. More information can be found at AngelaHimsel.com.