Prequel to Aleph Isn't Tough, an Introduction to Hebrew for Adults
Author: Aaron Starr
Publisher: URJ Books and Music
Category: Foreign Language Study
Curious about Hebrew but not ready to take the plunge? A Taste of Hebrew is the perfect way to learn the letters and vowels without being overwhelmed by exercises and drills. Rabbi Starr includes interesting extras like brief commentaries related to the letters and tidbits on the prayers that you can peruse as you study. A prequel to Aleph Isn't Tough and the rest of the Hebrew for Adults series, this slim volume makes it easy to learn on your own or in a class. Ideal for parents who want to be able to help their children with religious school homework, or anyone wanting to take a first step into Hebrew.
Leading Jewish Spiritual Voices on why Prayer is Difficult and what to Do about it
Author: Mike Comins
Publisher: Jewish Lights Publishing
Join over fifty Jewish spiritual leaders from all denominations in a candid conversation about the why and how of prayer: how prayer changes us and how to discern a response from God. In this fascinating forum, they share the challenges of prayer, what it means to pray, how to develop your own personal prayer voice, and how to rediscover meaning and God's presence in the traditional Jewish prayer book. Book jacket.
The only comprehensive and up-to-date look at Reform Judaism, this book analyzes the forces currently challenging the Reform movement, now the largest Jewish denomination in the United States. To distinguish itself from Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, the Reform movement tries to be an egalitarian, open, and innovative version of the faith true to the spirit of the tradition but nonetheless fully compatible with modern secular life. Promoting itself in this way, Reform Judaism has been tremendously successful in recruiting a variety of people—intermarried families, feminists, gays and lesbians, and interracial families among others—who resist more traditional forms of worship. As an unintended result of this success, the movement now struggles with an identity crisis brought on by its liberal theology, which teaches that each Jew is free to practice Judaism more or less as he or she pleases. In the absence of the authority that comes from a theology based on a commanding, all-powerful God, can Reform Judaism continue to thrive? Can it be broadly inclusive and still be uniquely and authentically Jewish? Taking this question as his point of departure, Dana Evan Kaplan provides a broad overview of the American Reform movement and its history, theology, and politics. He then takes a hard look at the challenges the movement faces as it attempts to reinvent itself in the new millennium. In so doing, Kaplan gives the reader a sense of where Reform Judaism has come from, where it stands on the major issues, and where it may be going. Addressing the issues that have confronted the movement—including the ordination of women, acceptance of homosexuality, the problem of assimilation, the question of rabbinic officiation at intermarriages, the struggle for acceptance in Israel, and Jewish education and others—Kaplan sheds light on the connection between Reform ideology and cultural realities. He unflinchingly, yet optimistically, assesses the movement’s future and cautions that stormy weather may be ahead.
A leading expert provides an engaging firsthand portrait of American Judaism today American Judaism has been buffeted by massive social upheavals in recent decades. Like other religions in the United States, it has witnessed a decline in the number of participants over the past forty years, and many who remain active struggle to reconcile their hallowed traditions with new perspectives—from feminism and the LGBTQ movement to “do-it-yourself religion” and personally defined spirituality. Taking a fresh look at American Judaism today, Jack Wertheimer, a leading authority on the subject, sets out to discover how Jews of various orientations practice their religion in this radically altered landscape. Which observances still resonate, and which ones have been given new meaning? What options are available for seekers or those dissatisfied with conventional forms of Judaism? And how are synagogues responding? Wertheimer provides new and often-surprising answers to these questions by drawing on a wide range of sources, including survey data, visits to countless synagogues, and revealing interviews with more than two hundred rabbis and other informed observers. He finds that the majority of American Jews still identify with their faith but often practice it on their own terms. Meanwhile, gender barriers are loosening within religiously traditional communities, while some of the most progressive sectors are reappropriating long-discarded practices. Other recent developments include “start-ups” led by charismatic young rabbis, the explosive growth of Orthodox “outreach,” and unconventional worship experiences often geared toward millennials. Wertheimer captures the remarkable, if at times jarring, tableaux on display when American Jews practice their religion, while also revealing possibilities for significant renewal in American Judaism. What emerges is a quintessentially American story of rash disruption and creative reinvention, religious illiteracy and dynamic experimentation.
Parts I through IV of Teaching Tefilah contain fifteen chapters, each dealing with a section of the worship service or a topic related to prayer. Part V, new in this expanded revised edition, contains six new essays reflecting on recent trends in Jewish worship.