Thank you to Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback for inviting me on his podcast, Search for Meaning, and to speak on Shabbat at Stephen Wise Temple.
In this edition of his Search for Meaning podcast, Stephen Wise Temple Senior Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback hosts travel writer, author, podcaster, and Stephen Wise Temple Board member Lisa Niver, who just released her memoir, Brave-ish: One Breakup, Six Continents, and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.
Lisa’s memoir debuted as the top solo travel title on Amazon.com when it released on Sept. 19. Her podcast, Make Your Own Map, launched this summer and has been watched on six continents. It was a finalist for two Southern California Journalism Awards in 2023.
Elected this summer as a Congregational Director, Lisa is a graduate of Wise’s religious school program. Wise’s founder, Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin, officiated her bat mitzvah. She began her “nomadic” lifestyle by spending a summer in Israel on LA Ulpan, and went on to study abroad in Jerusalem at Hebrew University. She returned to Israel with her family for Rabbi Zeldin’s 80th birthday celebration. As a journalist, Lisa often shares articles about Wise clergy and services, most often through her column in the Jewish Journal.
Lisa has taught religious school at Wise and science at Brawerman Elementary, and has spoken at Wise about the Jews of Morocco (join our trip there next February!). Through the Jewish Federation, Lisa was part of the Rautenberg New Leaders Project and a mentor for the Julie Beren Platt Teen Innovation Grants Program.
Lisa’s mother, Judi Niver, also served on the temple’s board and both parents are active members in the temple community. Lisa is a regular at Shabbat services (speaking about her book on Sept. 29) and during COVID, she helped coordinate political leaders to read the prayer for our country.
Small Steps to Begin Again by Lisa Niver
Being here in the sanctuary, I am reminded of our founder Rabbi Zeldin. Where other people saw an empty mountain top, he imagined THIS city on the hill sometimes called the shul with a pool. I wonder what it was like when he decided to begin our temple. Did he always believe it would work out? He probably did. When most people take a first small step, to build a new synagogue, website or completely new life, it is scary. I remember in religious school, Rabbi Zeldin taught us to open our books and read the words on the page. We were not meant to memorize the prayers, we had to see the letters in front of us. I took away from this that we need to be present in the moment. We may be familiar with the prayer, but we need to bring all of our attention and focus. In so many ways, I have needed to stop, breathe, and see what is in front of me. BRAVE-ISH: ONE BREAKUP, SIX CONTINENTS AND FEELING FEARLESS AFTER FIFTY