Meaningful Spiritual Practices and New Translation of Psalms

I have often felt uncomfortable with the word spiritual. It’s usually used in a way that makes me feel inferior, because I don’t know if my experiences measure up. I mean, I get a lot out of traditional Jewish practice, like prayer and making blessings and doing mitzvot and stuff like that, but I can’t say that what I’m getting is spiritual. It’s a little zap or zing of feeling, something emotional, but maybe that’s not spiritual? I don’t know. I also get a little thrill reading poetry or listening to religious music in other traditions, like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or Mavis Staples–but is that a spiritual thrill?

Nevertheless, I wrote a Jewish Spirituality Resource Guide for our site, after about three months of research and introspection–and kvetching. (The kvetching was surprisingly fruitful, if utterly unspiritual, because people responded with their insights in the face of my whining.) I thought a lot about how interfaith families have unique opportunities for hiddur mitzvah, making the performance of commandments extra beautiful and excellent.

After I wrote my piece, I found this blog post on jewsbychoice.org, Three Meaningful Spiritual Practices for Rural Isolated Jews. I love this! The practices that I chose for my guide were very community-based ones, and I am so happy to see something about how to find something meaningful on your own.

Another nifty thing I came across after I wrote my guide was Pam Greenberg’s The Complete Psalms: The Book of Prayer Songs in a New Translation. I’m friendly with Pam and really excited about this new edition, which becomes available today. You can read and hear an interview with Pam on the pbs.org website. Psalms are a really important part of Jewish (and many Christian!) worship services, so a new translation that gives a chance to rethink them is very exciting. (Plus I’m so stoked to realize I watched Pam working on this at the Diesel Cafe! That’s just nifty, you know?)

I’d love to hear from you about your meaningful spiritual practices.

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2 thoughts on “Meaningful Spiritual Practices and New Translation of Psalms

  1. Thank you so much for the link to Three Meaningful Spiritual Practices. Living in a rural area with no local Jewish community, I found it to be very helpful.

    I feel spiritual when I pray, when I study Torah, and when I make connections with Jews and those converting to Judaism. Talking about religion and what speaks to me as a Jew-to-be makes me feel spiritual. I feel spiritual when the sun is shining bright and the birds are singing, or when I hear the thunder and see the lightning. I feel spiritual when I make food choices that are kosher. I feel spiritual when I contribute to charities, or help someone who is having a hard time. I feel spiritual when I stretch my muscles and breathe deeply.

    I find spirituality to be an awareness of G-d, and I try to stay aware whenever I can.

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed the post I wrote over at the [url=http://jewsbychoice.org]jewsbychoice.org[/url] site, and thanks for the shout out in your piece!  As an observant Jew who lives in a city with a small Jewish community, I find a really do need to be able to rely on both individual spiritual practices and community ones.  My synagogue community is very important to me, but the reality is that outside of Shabbos and holiday davenning and meals, many of us are sort of on our own, so it really helps to have a tool kit of spiritual practices that can sustain one between the times when one is in community.  This is especially important I think because Judaism has never been (at least in the last 2,000 years) a tradition with an ascetic streak anywhere; community is vitally important to us.  So when we can’t live directly in community every day, we need things to remind us of our connection to our people and tradition in the mean time.  The three I wrote about happen to work well for me, and I know friends of mine from my synagogue have their own connections to other practices.
    Anyway, thanks again for your post, and for tagging us!
    Shabbat Shalom,
    Yair

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