TUPELO – A small crowd of friends, family and readers gathered at St. Luke United Methodist Church on Wednesday to talk to author Nancy Petrey about her memoir, “Jewish Roots Journey: Memoirs of a Mizpah.”
the book, Petrey recalls her experiences as a “Mizpah,” or “look-out,”
for the Jewish faith, despite her Methodist beliefs and upbringing. She
has traveled to Israel three times: in 1996 on a mission trip, in 1998
on her own, and in 2002 on a prayer tour, at the height of suicide
bombing in Israel.
“I saw and learned so much there,” she said, “but I was never scared because I was the center of God’s will.”
a former Tupelo resident, earned a master’s degree in Religious
Education in the Middle East from the Arkansas Institute for Holy Land
studies, and is an expert in the journey of the Jewish people through
history. In her book, she posits that the church began distancing itself
from its Jewish roots when it began adopting a “Western mind-set and
Greek philosophy,” which drew the religion away from its birthplace and
changed the interpretation of scripture from literal to allegorical.
with the understanding of Christianity as being Jewish can we learn the
Bible from the correct point of view,” she says. “(Jews) are like our
Consequently, the book that she originally intended
only for her posterity contains equal parts humanity and theological
While Petrey’s book is solid with history and
theology, it is balanced with striking and humorous events from her life
in which her faith truly made a difference, such as an event in which
she confronts a man who robbed her.
Petrey says she received
much of her inspiration from the book “Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom,
another memoir about a family that protected Jews during the Holocaust.
Originally, her book was intended to be a sort of life story for her
children, but the book was picked up by Energion Publications of
Gonzalez, Fla., and quickly gained steam.
“I was amazed that so many people were interested in my life,” she said.
Petrey currently lives in her hometown of Luverne, Ala., and plays piano for the South Luverne Baptist Church.