Matzah Balls to Communion Wafers
How a Not-So-Kosher Jewish Girl Fell in Love with Jesus
Imprint: Resource Publications
“Gail's quest is honest and authentic. It's easy to go along and accept what one's been taught. She's sought God on her own terms. It's a path of discovery and only good things can come from it.”
—Hesh Epstein, Orthodox Rabbi
“I love reading stories of people coming to a life-giving faith. Especially when the hard and harsh things that comprise any life get full attention. Gail’s is no glib testimony, but a moving, carefully unrolling narrative with flashes of humor and glimpses of insight. She confronts heartache and tough questions without flinching, all the while showing how God walked alongside her, and brought to her mercy and hope. Her story will stir something similarly satisfying and sustaining in others.”
—Timothy Jones, Dean Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
“I read this book in one sitting. Coming myself from Jewish heritage, it stirred my heart and I found I couldn't put it down! Every Christian should understand the Jewish underpinnings of Christianity and this work lays them out beautifully. This book is both wonderfully theological and deeply personal. Gail is stunningly and authentically honest about her own journey, faith, and family. I found myself shedding tears of sadness and joy! You will find great wisdom here that may just change your life.”
—Alfred “Al” T. K. Zadig Jr., former Rector of All Saints Church in Chevy Chase, Maryland in the Diocese of Washington, DC
“Linda and I are spellbound about the way God used us in Gail’s metamorphosis. Just as physical birth can entail a long and painful experience, so it was with Gail’s spiritual rebirth. Our recent experience of reading her book was intensely emotional. Because the Jewish embrace of Jesus represents an earth-shattering change, I have not been able to contain my tears. Her writing, transparent and without guile, has well-placed, healing Scriptures that affect the reader like a balm on an open wound.”
—Glenn Welsford, retired Presbyterian minister, PCA
“Gail Baker’s Matzah Balls to Communion Wafers is a strikingly frank and unique assessment of her personal, social, and, ultimately, theological path. An emotional and intellectual treatment without veneer, it reflects the interplay between the Spirit’s leading and an honest willed search.”
—Gerald Mills, Senior Pastor, Providence Presbyterian Church, PCA
“Gail Baker has given us a powerful account of her personal spiritual pilgrimage that engages both the mind and heart and lights the way for all as we encounter the holy in the large and small experiences of our own lives. With searing honesty, profound insight and extraordinarily engaging vulnerability, Gail invites us to join her on a life quest for the truth of God. As her story progresses, we see how the unfolding mystery of Jesus Christ is revealed, known and trusted in the broken places, wounds, and hurts of life. It remains an account of irrepressible joy, gratitude and openness to the future. As she wrestles to understand her life and relationships, Gail weaves together a beautiful tapestry that draws from the best of Jewish and Christian scholars, theologians, artists and mystics. No one can read her writing without entering into an internal conversation about the meaning and purpose of one’s own life before God.”
—Lewis F. Galloway, retired Senior Pastor, Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis
“Gail’s bold determination to seek truth in the face of strong opposition is a transformative model for all seekers. The depth of her spiritual journey authentically reflects the person Gail is. Like Nicodemus, she comes to Jesus in the night with difficult questions, and ends up at a garden tomb bearing spices, fearlessly trusting the promises of God’s love.”
—Patricia C. Malanuk, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
“A beautifully written and provocative account of one woman’s spiritual journey.” Baker writes with a deeply felt spirituality, her prose often elegantly taking on the form of prayer: ‘I continue to write so that I can better know what I feel and think about a matter. As a form of communication, it resembles prayer—reaching deep into my psyche and speaking to a subconscious part of my soul.’ She artfully braids revealing, confessional memoir with thought-provoking reflections on the nature of her spirituality, which dwells in the convergence of mystical Judaism and Christianity. Her search for faith is a rigorously intellectual one, conducted through the meticulous study of not only the Bible, but also philosophy and theology.
Still her remembrance never devolved into arid, scholarly study. Her recollection is still powerfully moving and told with courage and self-effacing humor. With great nuance, Baker describes the profound consolation that she found in Christ as a Jewish woman, and in the process, she makes a valuable contribution to a deeper understanding of the Judeo-Christian tradition.”
“Genuinely affecting and revelatory, Gail Baker’s candid memoir conveys a poignant story of her metamorphosis from Judaism to Christianity, one which traversed the craggy, psyche-borne territories of faith, suffering, and religious affiliation.
Delivering a touching, coherent and insightful work which speaks to the soul of the reader, author Baker shares her spiritual hardships and triumphs with grounded openness and grace, brimming not only with emotion, but with scholarly authenticity and insight.
When her search eventually brought her to the point of no return –crossing the impalpable barrier that separates Judaism and Christianity, Gail Baker became a hero and an inspiration. Not because she turned her back to Judaism, but because she bravely took charge of her faith, daring to step away from her Jewish culture, while seeking a more enriching relationship with God. Matzah Balls to Communion Wafers: How a not-so Kosher Jewish Girl Fell in Love with Jesus, made for a spiritually satisfying read that easily kept my attention. In particular, what immediately appealed to me about the overall narrative is the eloquence of Baker’s writing style. Her words flow easily and stylishly, permeating the read with a poetic bent, both expressive and engaging. Moreover, her writing guides you through her experiences with a literate clarity that allows for a genuine author-reader connection.”
—Pacific Book Review
“Matzah Balls to Communion Wafers recounts Gail’s journey to marry her Jewish heritage to her newfound Christian faith. Her story will resonate with women—mothers, daughters, wives—as it details how her faith carried her through difficulties with her son, parents, and rejection from her community. I would recommend this book to any Christian who loves a good conversion story. I would also recommend the book to Christian-curious Jewish or agnostic people.”
—Manhattan Book Review
“What is religion, if not a source of comfort, solace, and community? For Gail Baker, a proud Jewess raised in a predominantly Christian, and often bigoted, South Carolina, religion is complicated. As for many Jews, the theology of her Judaism is enmeshed with Jewish culture, history, commitment to social and civic participation, and in an identity that both included and transcended religious belief.
Baker’s story of growing up honors her strong Jewish roots and values, her defiance during formative Christian proselytizing and anti-Semitic experiences, and her efforts to lead an honorable adult secular Jewish life. She describes, in excruciating candor, the later torment of raising a son who suffered debilitating depression and related troubles into adulthood, and how her need for guidance and comfort eventually leads her to seek out Jesus Christ.
This relatable tale of an all-too-human woman facing unspeakable sadness and seeking solace is a gut punch for any parent. But it’s the body blow of guilt over appearing to abandon her people to collude with their persecutors that gives Baker the most concern. How she reconciles her intellectual understanding of Jewish experience with her emotional and spiritual attraction to Christianity makes for a heartfelt and often uncomfortably candid memoir.
Ultimately, though she faces her own questions and those of community members on both sides of the Bible, Baker makes her choice and her case, bringing with her the best of civic and community practice she formed as a Jew. Though she fears friends and family will judge her harshly, her ultimate choice of Christianity presents not as rejection of Judaism, nor as tacit approval of the ills done to Jews in the name of Christianity. Instead, she describes her conversion in a sympathetic and understandable light, as her embrace of the lifestyle that brought her the most joy, peace, and promise at a time in life when she needed it most.”
—Tulsa Book Review
“Matzah Balls to Communion Wafers: How a not-so-Kosher Jewish Girl Fell in Love with Jesus by Gail Baker is the author's memoir of her life and journey on the path toward finding answers to questions surrounding her personal faith. With her identity as firmly grounded in Judaism as nearly every other facet of her life, Baker is forced to confront both internal resistance and fierce opposition from her family, community, and the ties that bind her to a faith. Ultimately, she finds a balance between the two that is as individual as it is inspirational.
Matzah Balls to Communion Wafers by Gail Baker is a wonderful book that will resonate with readers of all faiths, particularly those who have converted from one firm belief to another. There is a very human and authentic tone to Baker's writing, which feels so much like a friend sitting on the sofa with you, telling the story from the beginning of how she managed to make it there. The narrative is light and humorous when it's appropriate, without detracting from the heavy weight of her experience, and she's definitely a woman that's easy to connect with from the first page. I'd absolutely recommend this moving autobiography to anyone interested in real life interfaith coming of age stories, even when it occurs in their late 30's.”
—Readers’ Favorite Review
“Matzah Balls to Communion Wafers is an intriguing memoir written by Gail Baker detailing her own spiritual journey from Judaism to Christianity. A Jewish girl at heart, she grew up in the Bible Belt of Columbia, South Carolina in a secular Jewish family. Baker did not question her spirituality much until her son, Michael, at the age of 9, started having behavioral issues. Michael was dealing with depression, oppositional issues, an eating disorder, and, eventually, drug addiction. Afraid of the backlash from her Jewish community, she started secretly studying Christianity. She eventually found the love of God and the teachings of Christianity offered her the solace she needed. Gail Baker is clearly a gifted writer. She writes with such candidness, beauty, and eloquence, it's like reading poetry at times. In her writing, it is evident that she is very knowledgeable about Judaism and Christianity; she personally studied it intensively for years. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the stories relating to her upbringing, her family—the more personal aspect of her memoir.”
—Seattle Book Review
“Baker chronicles her spiritual journey with a methodical, research-based approach. She eventually comes to the conclusion that she finds the most comfort in Christianity’s approach to life’s persistent woes. Baker’s research is a veritable reading list for those who want answers about any grief, fear, guilt or doubt they may be experiencing in their life.”
—San Francisco Book Review