“I’m a Lutheran pastor, but I’m not the same one I was six years ago.” says Heidi Neumark “That’s when our daughter was up late Googling family names and called out: Mom! Do you know you’re from a prominent Jewish family and your grandfather died in a concentration camp? It’s on Wikipedia!” Within months, that Wikipedia footnote sent Neumark on a personal journey across the globe to search for her family roots – taking her from Germany to the Czech Republic, to Brazil and eventually to a Passover Seder in Los Angeles with newly found cousins.
Hidden Inheritance: Family Secrets, Memory and Faith by Heidi B. Neumark (Abingdon Press, October 6, 2015), takes readers on Neumark’s journey into an unimagined past with life-changing repercussions for her future. Personal narrative, social history, theology and Biblical reflection are interwoven in a story that challenges the author’s identity, vocation and her theology. As this Lutheran pastor is shocked to uncover her Jewish roots and successive family loss and trauma through the Holocaust, readers are invited to consider for themselves how secrets, closeted identities and silence can shape their lives.
Heidi Neumark strong passion for social justice kept her in the South Bronx where she served congregations for twenty years. Her first book, the award winning Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx tells that story. For the past twelve years she has continued her passion as pastor of the multicultural, bilingual, Trinity Lutheran Church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She initiated support groups for Latino members, and programs for low-come, immigrant children and homeless LGBT youth. During all those years, Neumark had no idea that there was a chilling history of oppression in her own family.
In Hidden Inheritance Neumark grapples with Anti-Semitism in the church and the role of the church in silencing trauma. She reconsiders how her lifelong identification with marginalized people and work for social justice emerged from roots she never knew existed.
Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx, published by Beacon Press, 2003. Winner of 2004 Wilbur Award given by the Religion Communicators Council.
From the Publishers Weekly Starred review: “A gifted storyteller, she portrays people who, despite personal tragedies and minimal resources, band together to build low-income housing, create first-rate schools, restore their church, plant trees and help each other through crises. People like Burnice, who initially came to church to pick up Christmas gifts, intending to trade them for drugs and then kill herself with an overdose; but who kept coming back, got her GED, found a job and is now a leader in church and community. ‘Some future pillars of the church arrive in ruins,’ Neumark wryly notes. With its hard-nosed realism and passion for God, this memoir should appeal to people of faith across the political spectrum.”
More Critical Praise:
“Breathing Space could not have been written by anyone other than Heidi Neumark, who has been immersed in the life of the South Bronx for twenty years. She writes with the passionate love of a pastor’s heart and a poet’s gift for language. Politicians have visited the South Bronx and novelists have taken detours onto its streets but Heidi Neumark stayed long enough and loved hard enough to be marked for life. This book will take your breath away.”
——-The Reverend Dr. James A. Forbes Jr. Senor Minister Emeritus,
The Riverside Church, NYC.
“This beautiful book, written with insight and gentle humor, breathes wisdom, kindness, and great blessing. Heidi Neumark wrestles with angels and discovers pools of refreshing grace.”
——-Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching,
Candler School of Theology, Emory University
“Heidi Neumark has worked tirelessly to earn the trust of people who have been betrayed constantly in their lives, finding in stories of desperation, poverty, and death, stories of hope and transfiguration. Read this book carefully and let Neumark’s commitment and love touch your heart.”
——-Ada María-Diaz, author of En La Lucha: A Hispanic Woman’s Liberation Theology
“This remarkable book helped me enter a world I’d scarcely imagined.”
——-Richard Lischer, author and James T. and Alice Mead Cleland Professor of Preaching at Duke Divinity School
A collection of essays that includes one by Heidi