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Spiritual Boredom: Rediscovering the Wonder of Judaism  1st Edition

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1580234054
ISBN-10: 1580234054
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Take Control of Your Boredom

We all have moments when we feel as if we have nothing new to contribute to the world, when the monotony of routine minimizes our intensity for learning, prayer, and our hunger for wonder. We may even feel as if we are subjected to boredom at every turn because of the impossibility of newness. But there is a way to use our boredom as an invitation to revisit our expectations and our responsibility for self-engagement.

Exploring spiritual boredom through the lenses of psychology, philosophy, and theology, as well as Jewish prayer, community, and education, Dr. Erica Brown demonstrates how we can recast our ability to create, invent, and discover that which is new by following the teachings of Judaism--to stop and take note, to reflect in community and in private prayer, and most importantly, to act.

Describing practical ways for changing our attitude toward boredom, she illustrates that although there will never be an end to boredom, with planning and insight we may get closer to managing it, leveraging it, and allowing it to teach us something about ourselves.

"[A] path-breaking book.... Identifies the spiritual ennui that is rarely addressed and that results in yawns and in alienation. It then tells us what we can do about it to establish a Judaism that can re-excite our souls, our minds, and our hearts."
--Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author, Jewish Literacy and A Code of Jewish Ethics

"Insightful, challenging, even transformative--a welcome antidote to those who would just shrug and say that there's nothing we can do to infuse our Jewish lives with more joy, more meaning, and more spirit."
--Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, editor, New Jewish Feminism: Probing the Past, Forging the Future

About the Author

Dr. Erica Brown, an inspiring writer and educator, is scholar-in-residence for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. She consults for the Jewish Agency and other Jewish non-profits, and is a faculty member of the Wexner Foundation. She is an Avi Chai Fellow, winner of the Ted Farber Professional Excellence Award, and the recipient of a Covenant Award for her work in education. She is author of Confronting Scandal: How Jews Can Respond When Jews Do Bad Things; Inspired Jewish Leadership: Practical Approaches to Building Strong Communities, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, and Spiritual Boredom: Rediscovering the Wonder of Judaism and coauthor of The Case for Jewish Peoplehood: Can We Be One? (all Jewish Lights). She contributed to We Have Sinned: Sin and Confession in Judaism―Ashamnu and Al Chet, Who by Fire, Who by Water―Un'taneh Tokef and All These Vows―Kol Nidre (all Jewish Lights). She lectures widely on subjects of Jewish interest and leadership. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with her husband and four children, and can be reached at www.EricaBrown.com.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights; 1 edition (August 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580234054
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580234054
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Erica Brown is a writer and educator who lectures widely on subjects of Jewish interest. She is scholar-in-residence for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, DC and a consultant to other Jewish organizations. Dr. Brown is the author of In the Narrow Places, Confronting Scandal, Spiritual Boredom and Inspired Jewish Leadership, and co-author of The Case for Jewish Peoplehood. Her "Weekly Jewish Wisdom" column has appeared regularly in The Washington Post. More at www.leadingwithmeaning.com.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Odelia Tine on September 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Brown manages to take the topic of boredom and weave an engrossing tale of how we can recast familiarity into action. I particularly liked the distinction between boredom and calm. The section at the end of the book detailing action items is particularly valuable. Anyone with ennui should be reading this. And those who want to avoid it. A great resource for teaching children about spitituality as well. Well done!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
No one, writes Dr. Brown, is immune from the debilitating disease of boredom, a modern condition that is cited in a dictionary for the first time in the mid-nineteenth century. The disease cannot be treated by an injection or any other outside intervention. The cure must come from inside the bored people themselves.
Boredom affects all aspects of life - an inability to enjoy oneself, family and religion - and destroys the self and others. In Judaism, boredom with Hebrew classes, synagogue services and religious lectures is well known, and all-too-often turns into an alienation from Judaism.
The main cause of boredom, Dr. Brown writes, is "a feeling of uninvolvement, a lack of concentration, an absence of motivation, a feeling of emptiness and, above all, no excitement or enthusiasm for what is happening." How can people overcome these destructive feelings?
Dr. Brown's well-written book is well-researched and filled with reasonable practical advice and interesting, poignant and instructive quotes, at least one and sometimes two or three on every page. For example: "Something is boring me. I think it's me," said Dylan Thomas. He understood the problem and cure.
Dr. Brown writes: "When we believe something is destined to be boring, we often make sure that it lives up to expectations." Boredom, she explains, is the result of selfishness, excessive concern about one's own benefits and pleasures. And "It is commitment that provides the real relief to boredom."
Dr. Brown offers ten prescriptions to heal the disease, which she discusses in detail.
1. Stop speaking about boredom. By mentioning it, you make it so.
2. When you see something, go through the ten times two exercise. Try to think of ten things you notice about what you are seeing. Then try to add ten more.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By four4four on August 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There I was thinking I had been having a crisis of faith, when in actuality, thanks to Erica Brown's new book "Spiritual Boredom", I realize now that I have been suffering from boredom. Dr. Brown must have been living in my head for the last few years - her description of boredom, an all too common ailment facing those of us living in this time of information and activity overload, is exactly what I and many of my friends have been dealing with for the last few years. Her analysis of this "disease" is witty and thorough, and the practical solutions she offers have just moved up to the top of my to do list. A meaningful text with interesting literary references, this book is a must read for those of us who have been engaged in the Jewish community, have lost their way, and who miss the connectedness and meaning that Judaism offers.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on November 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The quickest way to lose one's faith is for it to lose its wonder. "Spiritual Boredom: Rediscovering the Wonder of Judaism" is a spiritual guide for combating the most unsuspecting problem of the modern era for many Jews - boredom with one's faith. Humanity has an innate desire for change and newness, but how does one keep one's faith when their religion and synagogue life seems so stagnant? Discussing these questions and offering probable solutions, Erica Brown presents an intriguing dissection of this unique problem. "Spiritual Boredom" is a solid and enthusiastically recommended read for both tired Jews and Judaic leaders.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Suzan Wachs Katzir on October 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Have the editorial reviewers and big-name blurb writers from the back cover read the same book I did? This book is poorly written and badly edited. The first four chapters were a total waste of paper and the following ones only slightly better. I struggled to read the whole thing, hoping that she would finally make a point, offer something that I could use. Nothing. The author had no point. Yes, people are disengaged from Judaism, feel that it's boring, and ...??? I agree that, no, they shouldn't feel that way. What is Brown's solution to this situation? A boring book that belabors the point and goes nowhere.
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