THE RITUALS & PRACTICES OF A JEWISH LIFE: A Handbook for Personal Spiritual Renewal

Kerry M. Olitzky, Editor, Vanessa L. Ochs, Foreword by, Daniel Judson, Editor . Jewish Lights $18.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-58023-169-5

A life marked by ritual was previously the province of traditional Jews, but today, more and more liberal Jews are adopting the practices of kippah (yarmulke), tallith (prayer shawl), tefillin (phylacteries), mikvah (ritual bath), daily blessings, prayer and Torah study as paths to living with greater purpose. Liberal Jews may observe these rituals not because of their "commandedness," but because they are "intensely poetic expressions of being Jewish," writes Vanessa Ochs in her foreword. Though this system of discipline might seem oppressive to an outsider, it can bring people closer to God and to themselves, the editors suggest. Each of 10 chapters by a different rabbi, educator or leader focuses on a specific ritual; each includes personal testimony, basic how-to information, transliterated and translated blessings, step-by-step instructions and a bibliography. The struggles, dilemmas and rewards inherent in religious practice are vividly portrayed through humorous and poignant stories of family, coming of age, journeys, searching, rebellion, return and connection. The authors present rabbinic perspectives alongside feminist voices and nontraditional ways of observance (for instance, observing Shabbat by gardening, which is traditionally prohibited). One quibble: where the authors offer others' personal testimony in the midst of their own, the layout can be confusing. However, that one drawback doesn't detract from this practical, accessible and fascinating guide for those who want to enter Jewish ritual or further enrich their own practice. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/26/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-1-58023-663-8
Hardcover - 258 pages - 978-1-68336-421-4
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