Reading between the lines: Ilana Kurshan’s moving new memoir

By ELAINE MARGOLIN
September 28, 2017 15:51

Much of the Talmud, which is the basis for all codes of Jewish law, is a record of rabbinical conversations between the rabbis who often shift gears abruptly as they engage with one another.




Talmud

Talmud. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

One gets the scary feeling that something extraordinary had to happen to save Ilana Kurshan from herself.

She grew up extremely self-conscious, the daughter of a Conservative rabbi in the United States. She was compulsively driven to achieve and accomplish. She was also a relentless perfectionist and wound up hospitalized with anorexia nervosa while in her early 20s. Her parents urged her to go to psychotherapy, but she refused, believing it would not help her. She recovered, taking with her the ravages of this insidious disease and continued studying at Harvard and then Cambridge, where she fell in love with English literature. Yet something was always missing.

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