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The Way Into Jewish Prayer 1st Edition

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1580232012
ISBN-10: 1580232019
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Editorial Reviews Review

The Way into Jewish Prayer by Dr. Lawrence Hoffman, a rabbi and liturgical expert, offers an instructive and empathic orientation to the rewarding and perplexing experience of prayer. Throughout, Hoffman stresses that "Prayer is not simply a question of what Jews say to God. It is also about the God who is at the other end, listening." He begins with a survey of the many images of God--male and female, grand and humble--that have helped Jews throughout history to believe they are not alone. He moves on to consider the pragmatic, American question of how prayer works, arguing for the legitimacy of both fixed prayer and spontaneous prayer. Then Hoffman explains the prayerful symbolism of the synagogue in sharp detail, and the application of this symbolism in various Jewish traditions: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist. Ultimately, Hoffman argues that all forms of Jewish prayer are geared toward finding the sacred in the ordinary. Prayer, he writes, is a way of making choices to "remain deeply human, warmly empathetic, on fire with courage, and alive with hope." --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

This book continues Jewish Lights' The Way Into... series, each volume designed to provide a basic introduction to Judaism by exploring one crucial Judaic concept. The expertise of the contributors is typified by Hoffman, who is a scholar, theologian, rabbi, teacher, lecturer and writer specializing in questions of Jewish liturgy. While his book is a primer on prayer, Hoffman demonstrates the close linkage among other aspects of Judaism. He begins by examining Jewish ideas about God, which leads to an exploration of the pattern and place of prayer. Portions of this research descend into various digressions, as when Hoffman discourses at length on the history, form, art and architecture of synagogues. A somewhat smaller diversion from his basic theme follows as Hoffman describes the denominations of Judaism, emphasizing their differences in regard to prayer. He concludes with a consideration of prayer ideas and blessings, again moving beyond prayer as he discusses theology, anthropology, cosmology, eschatology and the Jewish calendar. He offers a rather strained delineation of anthropology that bears little resemblance to its conventional definition. Most of the book is written simply and clearly, although Hoffman is overly fond of complicated tangents and sometimes crosses the line from explaining the value of prayer to preaching about it. Despite these limitations, this book, on the whole, is a useful explication of prayer in Jewish life. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Way Into--
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights; 1 edition (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580232019
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580232012
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jordan Parr on April 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you have never prayed as a Jew - and even if you have - this book is for you. The Way Into Series, designed as a 14 volume introduction to Judaism, hits its stride with this offering. Rabbi Hoffman offers a lucid and compelling reason to pray as a Jew. Going well beyond explaining the prayers (he writes other books about that, such as the My People's Prayer Book series), he explains about the Jews' relationship to God, as expressed through prayer. Rabbis, laity and interested readers who want to know about Judaism and prayer will find this book an indispensible volume.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David E. Levine on November 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Several years ago, I had the privilege of hearing Rabbi Hoffman speak at a convention I attended. He was a personable and dynamic speaker and he writes as compellingly as he speaks. Rabbi Hoffman is a Reform rabbi but, he views Jewish prayer from all perspectives, including traditional. He gives compelling reasons to pray as a Jew. Although many of the traditional prayers approach G-d as an anthropomorphic deity (a view of G-d that Hoffman rejects), Rabbi Hoffman nonetheless sees a great benefit to the Jewish liturgy since the traditional service requires that we pray together as a community. This unifying force of tradition makes Judaism the communal religion that it is. Although modern movements in Judaism make some changes to the liturgy to accomodate current understandings of theology, Rabbi Hoffman sees the benefits of traditional Jewish prayer while still supporting changes that are evolutionary, not drastic. A major example is refering to G-d in sexually neutral terms rather than describing G-d as a male.

Rabbi Hoffman discusses the purpose of prayer and the theology underlining it. The book is presented in a manner that is accessible to someone unfamiliar with Judaism. Nonetheless, the book is comprehensive enough to offer new insights to people, such as I, who have an extensive background in Judaism. Here is an example of something I learned. I thought that Conservative Judaism was formed to be in the middle between the traditional orthodox movement and the liberal reform movement. Actually, Reform was formed by German Jews and the less formal eastern European and Russian Jews were looked down upon by the upper class German Jews. Accordingly, the eastern European Jews, in breaking with orthodoxy, wanted a liturgy that was less formal and churchlike than the reform liturgy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on February 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Way Into Jewish Prayer by Lawrence A. Hoffman (Professor of Liturgy Worship and Ritual, Jewish Institute of Religion, Hebrew Union College) provides the reader with an accessibly informative introduction into the reasons for Jewish personal and ritual prayer, and the manner in which these prayers are performed. The six articulated chapters comprising this superbly presented instructional volume include "God and the Jewish People: To Whom Jew Pray"; "Prayer as Discipline and as Art: How Prayer Works"; "The Synagogue Sanctuary: What's What and Why It Is So"; "The Community at Prayer: Who's Who and What They Do"; "The Ideas of Jewish Prayer: What Matters Most"; and "A Prayerful Person at Home and on the Way: When the Ordinary Can Be Sacred". Enhanced with Notes, a Glossary, Suggestions for Further Reading, and an extensive Index, The Way Into Jewish Prayer is a welcome addition to the growing library of Judaic Studies, and is especially commended to the attention of Jewish and Non-Jewish readers seeking to better understand the traditions, meaning, and role of prayer in Judaism.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By cooperkat10 on April 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book to help one to focus on prayer. It is not highly structured, but provides a framework for individual prayer development.
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