The title Road to El Roi was inspired by the story of Hagar in the Bible, the surrogate/handmaiden of Sarai and Abraham. In the story, Hagar is marginalized and mistreated by Sarai, and then used to produce a child for the desperate couple. Due to conflict between Sarai and her slave, and the fact that Sarai was eventually able to have her own son Isaac, Hagar and her son Ishmael are forced out into the desert.
In their exile, Hagar nearly witnesses Ishmael’s slow death in the wilderness until her cries are heard and an oasis appears to sustain them. Hagar is the first to declare the name El Roi, The God Who Sees Me. Road to El Roi subtly parallels Hagar’s journey, with a pivotal piece written by Rabbi Jonathan Kligler that speaks to the community of faith about those who are outcast in our society. The name Hagar, in fact, in ancient Hebrew means “The Stranger”.
Jess Moravian’s story has many similarities to Hagar: in Jess’ case, it is her husband who is infertile, and with his agreement, she uses a donor to conceive her family, acting much as a handmaiden in her marriage, when he has already shown and even admitted his lack of love for her. When Jess finally leaves the marriage, she finds that she and her children are then treated as bargaining chips.
To make matters worse, Jess’ ex, Chuck, uses the court system to manipulate her and her children due to his obsessive need for control and domination. It isn’t until Jess wanders through the most hurtful aspects of her journey that miracles and signs begin to appear that illuminate what she feels is a divine inspiration, a message intended for victims of abuse and neglect.
Road to El Roi is a sidewinding and intimate memoir, followed by chapters that analyze the condition of the meek and the nature of the controlling. The book also includes other stories from real victims. In the endcap are workable suggestions for change and parameters for identifying court abuse. In the end, Jess comes to terms with her place in the secular world and acknowledges that her battle to live freely as a mother is a spiritual war of epic proportions that is affecting millions of good parents and bewildered children.