God Loves The Stranger

How to find peace and harmony in an unsettled world.


You. Me. The person down the street or halfway around the globe. In this inspiring collection of stories, blessings, poetry, divine teachings, and meditation exercises, Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg conveys a single, powerful message: Let us not be strangers. God loves us all.


Using a blend of ancient and modern ideas, GOD LOVES THE STRANGER carves a clear pathway that enables us to learn how to love one another and create just societies. From teaching us how to handle suffering and aversion in positive, productive ways; how to learn creative skills for mindfulness, meditation, and retreat practice; and how to bring the roots of love and gratitude into our everyday lives, this book is a comprehensive tutorial for navigating today’s interpersonal and situational challenges with grace, spiritual fulfillment, and understanding. It offers tender, thought-provoking insight into the awareness that we are not—are never—alone; and that neither are our family members, our friends, or the strangers everywhere in the world. 


I am loving reading this book. It fills me with joy in its beauty and subtle dharma. God is there with a child eating macaroni or in the flight over Niagara Falls. The poems are so clear, lovely and evocative.

– Rabbi Rachel Cowan, author of Wise Aging: Living with Joy, Resilience and Spirit

With honesty, humor, and gentleness, Sheila Weinberg invites us to join in examining our lives. Drawing on Jewish and Buddhist teachings, life stories, and conversations with her grandchildren, she offers a very timely guide to enriching the spiritual, political, and personal dimensions of our experience.

– Martha Ackelsberg, William R. Kenan, Jr.  Professor emerita of Government, Smith College

A prescient and persuasively timely collection, God Loves the Stranger inspires and challenges us to deepen our spiritual sensibility as we act for radical justice in our country and our world.  Weinberg embodies and expresses a profoundly honest, clear, personal and moving call to wholeness, love and justice.

– Rabbi Nancy Flam, Institute for Jewish Spirituality, Senior Program Director

This book is like taking a contemplative stroll with a wise teacher who occasionally shares a story, a poem, a laugh, a prayer, a psalm along the way. Each page whispers to us “wake up” and embrace the stranger within and around us.

– Rev. Larry Peers, Unitarian Universalist minister

This lovely book comes along at just the right moment.  The author has much wisdom to share for these difficult times about how to connect embracing the stranger within----our fears, vulnerabilities, and self-deceptions----with welcoming strangers without, whether they be those near to us or far away.

– Judith Plaskow, Professor Emerita of Religious Studies at Manhattan College

“Ordinary” moments----unintentionally saying something unkind or calming a hungry child----become extraordinary when Rabbi Weinberg tunes her heart to meditation and her pen to gentle eloquence.  An excellent companion for our own ordinary/extraordinary moments.

– Rabbi Arthur Waskow, author of Godwrestling---Round 2

Most of us long for a friend who knows us well and loves us anyway, a companion who can listen deeply and offer insightful responses, and can double up with laughter over the delicious absurdities of her, and our humanness. Sheila Weinberg is that friend; God Loves the Stranger reveals why she is a beloved mindfulness teacher and trusted Spiritual Director. This rich and courageous collection invites us to both imagine and inhabit a world where we are no longer strangers to ourselves or to one another. 

– Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, PhD., editor of The Open Door Haggadah and
Chapters of the Heart: Jewish Women Sharing the Torah of Our Lives.

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Surprisingly Happy

“Are you happy because you are getting older or because you’ve found spiritual peace?”


Co-founder of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality Rabbi Sheila Weinberg offers intriguing answers to that question in Surprisingly Happy: An Atypical Religious Memoir. Snapshots of Rabbi Weinberg’s life, as told through poetry, prayers, and accounts of this Jewish Baby Boomer’s experiences, offer clues about her search to find God, and carves a path for others to learn from her journey. It addresses her spiritual quests through yoga and meditation, and provides a candid look at her struggles with addiction, her philosophy of feminism, and her life as a wife, mother and grandmother.


The book incorporates the author's eye witness accounts of many iconic events of her generation: the 1968 student protests at Columbia University; the challenges of the Peace Corps in Chile in the late 60s; the outbreak of the 1973 Yom Kippur War; the influence of Eastern practice on Western religion; the breakthrough of women into religious leadership; and the Feb. 15th, 2003 massive movement to stop the war in Iraq. Rabbi Weinberg also relates equally engaging anecdotes of less dramatic, yet impactful, rituals of everyday life: Senior prom, family, holidays, and a complex relationship with her mother.