About Nan Fink Gefen

Nan Fink Gefen was born and raised in Northern California in a small town east of San Francisco. As a child, she explored the hills, valleys, and creeks that surrounded her home and grew to love them.

After beginning college in California, she married, moved east, and had three children.  She became intrigued by the field of psychotherapy and immersed herself in learning to be a therapist. She finished up her university education, earning her Ph.D. from Ohio State University, and she had a private psychotherapy practice in Ohio for a dozen years, working mostly with families.

She returned to California in the mid-‘80s and settled in Berkeley, where she co-founded Tikkun magazine, a journal of politics, culture, and society. As founding publisher, she wrote a bimonthly column for the magazine, and her nonfiction pieces began to appear in numerous publications.

Nan converted to Judaism in 1985 after a period of intensive study and immersion in the Jewish world. The complexity of leaving behind one identity and taking on another led her to write about her experience in Stranger in the Midst: A Memoir of Spiritual Discovery (Basic Books, 1997).

During the ‘90s, after she left Tikkun to spend more time writing, she began to teach classes about Jewish meditation and spiritual practice. This led her to become involved in establishing a center of Jewish meditation in Berkeley, Chochmat HaLev.  Over the next twelve years she mentored students and led workshops in the Bay Area and nationally. From this experience she wrote Discovering Jewish Meditation (Jewish Lights, 1st edition 1999; 2nd edition 2011). Her short fiction began to be published in journals during this time.

In 2006 she became the founding editor/publisher of Persimmon Tree: An Online Magazine of the Arts by Women Over Sixty, which is associated with Mills College. The mission of the magazine is to showcase the talent and creativity of older women. During these years she wrote Clear Lake: A Novel, which won the IndieFab Gold Award for General Fiction.

Nan lives in Berkeley with her husband, Jonathan Omer-Man. Their blended family includes seven children and ten grandchildren.