Six Jewish Spiritual Paths

The quest for spirituality is universal, but with so many paths of spiritual nourishment to explore, how do we begin to find the one that is right for us?

Our tradition provides us with appropriate vehicles to express our spirituality within the framework of Judaism. Jewish sages, taking into account the need and makeup of the individual Jew, have been very generous in outlining for us various alternatives . As you become aware of your emotional and intellectual needs, and search for an appropriate path to meet them with integrity, you will soon realize that you have a preference for certain paths among the many. from Chapter 9

Rabbi Rifat Sonsino a self-proclaimed rationalist offers a candid, comprehensive discussion of the major paths to spirituality within the framework of Judaism, and the differing way each path can help us on our quest to nourish the soul and enlighten the mind.

Acts of transcendence, prayer, meditation, study, ritual, relationship and good deeds which is the best path for you? How can you follow it?


Jewish Meditation

Students of mediation are usually surprised to discover that a Jewish mediation tradition exists and that it was an authentic and integral part of mainstream Judaism until the eighteenth century.
Jewish Meditation is a step-by-step introduction to meditation and the Jewish practice of meditation in particular. This practical guide covers such topics as mantra meditation, contemplation, and visualization within a Jewish context. It shows us how to use meditative techniques to enhance prayer using the traditional liturgy—the Amidah and the Shema. Through simple exercises and clear explanations of theory, Rabbi Kaplan gives us the tools to develop our spiritual potential through an authentically Jewish meditative practice.


An Introduction to Judaism

This book offers a full and lucid account of Judaism and the Jewish people. Written for Jews and non-Jews alike, be they students, teachers, or general interested readers, the book brings out the extraordinary richness and variety of Judaism: its historical depth, and the vigour and endurance of its traditions–in the home, in the synagogue, in its literature, in individual and community life. It contains illustrative tables and maps, a full glossary, chronology, bibliography and index. This is a stimulating and comprehensive introduction to a major world culture.


Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist

In recent years, Christians everywhere are rediscovering the Jewish roots of their faith. Every year at Easter time, many believers now celebrate Passover meals (known as Seders) seeking to understand exactly what happened at Jesus’ final Passover, the night before he was crucified.
Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist shines fresh light on the Last Supper by looking at it through Jewish eyes. Using his in-depth knowledge of the Bible and ancient Judaism, Dr. Brant Pitre answers questions such as: What was the Passover like at the time of Jesus? What were the Jewish hopes for the Messiah? What was Jesus’ purpose in instituting the Eucharist during the feast of Passover? And, most important of all, what did Jesus mean when he said, “This is my body… This is my blood”?

To answer these questions, Pitre explores ancient Jewish beliefs about the Passover of the Messiah, the miraculous Manna from heaven, and the mysterious Bread of the Presence. As he shows, these three keys—the Passover, the Manna, and the Bread of the Presence—have the power to unlock the original meaning of the Eucharistic words of Jesus. Along the way, Pitre also explains how Jesus united the Last Supper to his death on Good Friday and his Resurrection on Easter Sunday.           

Inspiring and informative, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist is a groundbreaking work that is sure to illuminate one of the greatest mysteries of the Christian faith: the mystery of Jesus’ presence in “the breaking of the bread.”

From the Hardcover edition.

Men and Masculinities in Christianity and Judaism

Men and Masculinities in Christianity and Judaism brings together a selection of contemporary writings from religious studies scholars who address men as gendered beings within the Jewish and Christian traditions. The volume takes ‘gender’ seriously as an analytic category, yielding insights into the variegated ways that men as biologically and socially differentiated beings have shaped religious traditions and how religious traditions have impacted men’s lives. The perspectives brought to bear upon men’s studies in religion look at the relations between men and religion as dynamic, elastic, complex, creative, and filled with historical and political significance. Religions create images of men and impose particular modes of being a man; they can impede or cultivate men’s development and provide alternative pathways. This volume introduces students of religion and gender to the rich complexity of the relations between men and their religious commitments; it also provides an overview of the different themes and methodological approaches that emerge in such a study. Bjorn Krondorfer is Professor of Religious Studies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. ‘The publication of Bjorn Krondorfer’s substantial anthology is a landmark event for the study of gender and religion. This thoughtfully assembled collection of classic and cutting edge essays testifies to the range and profundity of research and theory that characterizes the investigation of maleness in two foundational traditions. No longer can ‘women’ and ‘femininity’ be considered the only problematic categories in regard to issues of sexuality and religion now that ‘men’ and ‘masculinity’ have been revealed to be just as problematic and contingent. Krondorfer’s volume includes essays drawn from many aspects of the study of religion – history, philosophy, theology, sociology and psychology – to show that all facets of religious studies must be enlisted to investigate the construction of ideas about men and masculinity in any culture or epoch. Readers will find themselves challenged to imagine expanded, new and varied possibilities concerning issues of sex and morality. This rich, diverse work is an essential sourcebook for the study of sexuality, gender and religion. It is destined to inspire students, scholars and political and social activists for years to come.’ Naomi Goldenberg, University of Ottawa ‘Krondorfer has skillfully organized a dazzling array of works by the top scholars in the field of religion and sexuality. This anthology will be required reading for anyone who seeks to understand the current state of research on the history and theories of masculinity in Jewish and Christian traditions.’ Rebecca Alpert, Temple University, Philadelphia ‘This impressive volume is as broad and important as its subject. The authors look both inward, into doctrinal texts and ritual practices, and outward, mapping the impact of these gendered ideas on our lives as we have come to live them. This impressive synthesis of gender studies and religious studies will be welcome in both fields – and maybe even get them talking to one another in a more informed way!’ Michael Kimmel, SUNY Stony Brook


I’m God, You’re Not

Flashes of insight surprising, entertaining, inspiring from one of the most creative spiritual thinkers in America.

“The goal of all spiritual life is to get your ego out of the way outwit the sucker; dissolve it; shoot it; kill it. Silence the incessant planning, organizing, running, manipulating, possessing, and processing that are the ineluctable redoubts of the ego. Not because these activities are bad or wrong or even narcissistic but because they preclude awareness of the Divine. To paraphrase the Talmud, God says, ‘There ain’t room enough in this here world for your ego and Me. You pick. ” from the Introduction

Tapping the experiences and wisdom of his career as a spiritual leader, Lawrence Kushner delights, surprises, challenges and inspires us. With his signature candor, wit and compassion, he helps us reconnect with the why and how of our spiritual lives. He encourages us to find new perspectives on the life-stuff that shapes them, and gently reminds us of the Source of it All.

These inspiring often startling insights will warm you during the dark times of your own doubts even as they brighten your quest for meaning, faith, identity, community and holiness.”


Choosing a Jewish Life

Married to a convert herself, Anita Diamant provides advice and information that can transform the act of conversion into an extraordinary journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth.

Here you will learn how to choose a rabbi, a synagogue, a denomination, a Hebrew name; how to handle the difficulty of putting aside Christmas; what happens at the mikvah (ritual bath) or at a hatafat dam brit (circumcision ritual for those already circumcised); how to find your footing in a new spiritual family that is not always well prepared to receive you; and how not to lose your bonds to your family of origin. Diamant anticipates all the questions, doubts, and concerns, and provides a comprehensive explanation of the rules and rituals of conversion.