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Jewish Spirituality : A Brief Introduction for Christians Paperback – August 1, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Lawrence Kushner was for about 30 years the rabbi of Congregation Beth El in Sudbury, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. Widely regarded as one of the most creative religious writers in America, he is the author of numerous articles and ten books about personal and institutional spiritual renewal within Judaism, including Eyes Remade for Wonder, God Was In This Place and I Did Not Know It and Honey in the Rock. Now rabbi in residence of Hebrew Union College in New York, he is a regular commentator on NPR's "All Things Considered."
The book is arranged in four sections dealing with the broad topics of Creation, Torah, Commandment, and The Holy One. In a series of brief and highly readable chapters within each section, Rabbi Kushner draws us in to the realm of stories-delightful, entertaining, evocative stories with a purpose. Parable might be the term we know best for these tales that deliver new ideas, insights and questions about the God we love and serve. As we engage our imagination with these stories, they allow God to guide our awareness of the "...Read more ›
There are seventeen chapters not including an introduction, afterword, and suggested resources section. The chapters are collected in sections that relate to Creation, Torah, Commandment, and Holy One. The average length of a chapter is around three pages, and herein lays the beauty of this tiny tome. The chapters are very short and very simple, but for those willing to linger in the simplicity of these stories, they will be rewarded with the wisdom of sages and an understanding of Creator God they may not have previously known. This, of course, affects every facet of life and fuels the consciousness on to deeper awareness and integration with life everywhere. God is. And so are we.
I am grateful for this book as it has sparked an interest in the ancient writings and interpretations of Holy Scripture from the Rabbis of old. I will be looking for additional resources for my study and likely purchasing some translations of Midrash. Fortunately, in the back of this book there are a number of suggested publications for me to start with. I look forward to the journey.
Make no mistakes: it's a fun and easy read. In less than 100 pages Kushner introduces us to playful Jewish reflections on the Torah (like the story of the two men walking through the Red Sea without realizing where they are), thoughtful word plays (like the acronym on the Hebrew word for "garden"), and motivational meditations on our need to serve others and let God work through us (like the story of the rich man leaving bread at the synagogue. This is a cute collection of stories and illustrations, a few of which will give you pause for reflection.
However, at it's heart, I'm not sure that most orthodox Jews would embrace every word of this. While Kushner notes that it is difficult to define Judaism, he nonetheless includes sweeping sentences like "Jews think this" and "Jewish mysticism teaches that." And the things he credits to all Judaism include, in referece to creation, the belief that "It's all God." Or he will say, you must be fused into the divine until the "borders of your self are erased." While this is spirituality, I'm not so sure it's Jewish.
In the end, it's a quick, easy, fun read. But if this is your first exposure to Judaism, don't stop reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very basic, and very short, introduction to Jewish Spirituality. The author expresses himself well but the entire book took only a few short hours to read leaving a lot of... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Craig
This book is a great introduction to Jewish spirituality, as the title says. It's only 102 pages and is an easy read, full of information and rabbinic legends which give a sense of... Read morePublished 15 months ago by JWeaven
Love this book. Stated simply with humor at times, and beautiful, insightful explanations. Short chapters that are direct and encapsulate important beliefs.Published 21 months ago by Kris
As a Christian, I have always heard that one should not question the Bible but here I see how the Jews question everything. Read morePublished on February 11, 2014 by Thomas M Osborn
The Rabbi did a fantastic job of challenging us out of the spiritual ruts. I would recommend this to anyone willing to let God be bigger.Published on March 22, 2013 by Mr. Paul
I was really excited when I ordered the book, but it quickly disappointed. The chapters only average 2 pages; not giving enough time to introduce any real concepts or discussion... Read morePublished on May 7, 2009 by Aaron Pelz