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Jewish Spirituality Resource Guide

April 7, 2010

Many people have noted that Jews seem less concerned with belief in God, and therefore less spiritual, than Christians. Writing based on data from the Pew Forum Religious Landscape Survey, Steven M. Cohen and Lauren Blitzer wrote in "Belonging Without Believing" about the US Jewish population, that it is one of the most secular in US society. Many Jews feel uncomfortable talking about their spiritual experiences in a Jewish context. Whether you grew up in another religion or in Judaism, if you're in an interfaith family raising Jewish children, you may already be engaged in Jewish life, and in a position to seek spiritual fulfillment in Jewish contexts--and that can work.

You want to create a spiritual practice, but the Judaism you've experienced in synagogue services may not work for you. It seems to require so much back story, so many linguistic skills, how could it introduce you to Jewish spirituality? The long, totally unrepresentative synagogue service on the High Holidays is a particularly hard way to engage with Judaism if you're new to it. It is a sort of spiritual practice to put yourself through an ordeal with a fast once a year--but it isn't one that takes advantage of what Judaism has to offer interfaith families in their spiritual lives.

Jewish spiritual practice is both easier and more difficult than the yearly prayer-a-thon. It has a rhythm of daily, weekly and monthly observances that can encourage mindfulness and appreciation of the natural world and human relationships. Traditional Jewish spirituality elevates ethical questions by placing them into the personal relationship that the individual has with God. It's an opportunity to become part of an ancient tradition and to experience a satisfying sense of engagement. It can even make synagogue services into something spiritually compelling. It's something people sometimes find hard to talk about in person, so consider this a personal welcome to take part in a long and rich spiritual tradition.

 

The Jewish Spirituality Resource Guide is also available in PDF and Word formats for downloading and printing or sending to your friends.

 


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Derived from the Greek word for "assembly," a Jewish house of prayer. Synagogue refers to both the room where prayer services are held and the building where it occurs. In Yiddish, "shul." Reform synagogues are often called "temple."
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