Finding a Spiritual Home: How a New Generation of Jews Can Transform the American Synagogue

Sidney Schwarz, Author, Sid Schwarz, Author
Sidney Schwarz, Author, Sid Schwarz, Author Jossey-Bass $24 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7879-5174-0
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-58023-185-5
Ebook - 978-1-58023-657-7
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The newest calling of the American Jewish community--transforming the synagogue into a ""spiritual home""--finds its voice in Schwarz's profile of four model congregations, one from each Jewish denomination. Schwarz, a Reconstructionist rabbi and founder of the Washington Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values, argues that the suburban, child-centered, service-oriented ""synagogue-center"" of today is in crisis, unable to provide the connectedness, belonging, intimacy and inclusiveness many baby boomers are seeking. Instead, he proposes, congregations should become participatory and welcoming ""synagogue-communities,"" as exemplified by Beth El Congregation in Sudbury, Mass. (Reform); Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in New York City (Orthodox); Adat Shalom in Washington, D.C., which he founded (Reconstructionist); and B'nai Jeshurun in Manhattan (Conservative). Ten powerful ""spiritual autobiographies"" of individual members punctuate Schwarz's congregational profiles, highlighting his thesis that sharing personal journeys can be the most compelling aspect of community. While Schwarz admits that these synagogues are atypical, guided by empowering and charismatic rabbis who built their congregations from the ground up, he hardly touches on other transformation projects that have sprung up across the country. His 10 strategies for transformation should provide first steps for those willing to commit their energies to reinvigorating synagogue life. (Apr.)
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