The Holy Thief: A Con Man's Journey From Darkness to Light

HarperCollins  2004

At first glance, The Holy Thief appears to be a pop culture, ‘touchy–feely’ type of book presenting the familiar story of how one man hits rock bottom and turns his life around. The Holy Thief delivers that story, but it is so much more as well—a fascinating memoir of the remarkable Rabbi Mark Borovitz. Con man, gambler, thief and drunk, Borovitz ended up spending years in prison for the many bad checks he had passed and illegal schemes he had been involved in over the years. While in jail, he had a spiritual awakening that inspired him to change his life. Eventually, Borovitz was released, went on to work and study and then become the rabbi at Beit T’Shuvah, a Jewish recovery house that uses the Torah and the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to help others recover from addiction and change their lives. Rabbi Borovitz is an amazing man, and his extraordinary life as he lives it through the principles of the Torah and the 12 steps, is a passionate and inspirational story.

Discussion Questions

JBC Book Clubs Questions

  1. At his ordination, Rabbi Mark was called a "holy thief". What do you think of this moniker? Do you think it's an apt description of his life? Does it encompass his past and present together or is it more descriptive of his past or current life?

  2. The book is written in a very conversational style—Rabbi Mark's voice complete with curses and slang. Does that enhance or distract from your reading?

  3. Rabbi Mel Silverstein asks if the accidents or luck that happens in life are acts of God or not. What do you think?

  4. Did you feel sympathy for Mark? Were you more sympathetic at the end of the book, after reading about his current work?

  5. What do you think of a rabbi who was in prison? Does it make him more or less relatable?

  6. When do you think Mark experienced redemption?

  7. The epigraph of this books reads, "God is my only friend. No one else knows who I am. Find a way out. Find a way." What do you think of this in relation to this book? Why was it chosen? What does it imply about relationships--both between God and man and between human beings?

  8. Did reading this book impact your own views on religion or spirituality? Did it affect how you feel about Judaism?

JBC Book Clubs questions (c) Jewish Book Council, Inc., 2014

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