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Six Jewish Spiritual Paths
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Introduction * 1. Spirituality-What Is It? * 2. The Jewish Spiritual Quest from Biblical Times to the Present: A Historical Survey * 3. Spirituality through Acts of Transcendence * 4. Spirituality through Study * 5. Spirituality through Prayer * 6. Spirituality through Meditation * 7. Spirituality through Ritual * 8. Spirituality through Relationship and Good Deeds * 9. Finding Your Spiritual Path * Abbreviations * Notes * Bibliography * About Jewish Lights *

About the Author

Rifat Sonsino, scholar and rabbi, is spiritual leader of Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, Massachusetts. Ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, he holds a degree in law and a Ph.D. in Bible and ancient Near Eastern studies. He has served as editor of the Central Conference of American Rabbis Journal and is the co-author of Finding God-Ten Jewish Responses and What Happens after I Die? Jewish Views of Life after Death. He and his wife, Ines, have two children-Daniel and Deborah-and are the proud grandparents of Ariella.

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Rabbi Sonsino takes on the contention that religion can sometimes be an impediment to spirituality, arguing instead that spirituality is a powerful way of expressing religious yearnings. He defines spirituality as "the awareness of standing before God," no matter how God is defined. Though many Jews seeking spirituality turn to Eastern religions, he says that Judaism has a rich spiritual tradition of its own, including six distinct paths: acts of transcendence (single events that have long-lasting effects), study, prayer, meditation, ritual and good deeds. These paths don't have to be mutually exclusive, Sonsino maintains, nor can spirituality be imposed. It is a "personal and... private matter" that requires constant attention and energy. Lucidly and clearly written, this book brings in many voices and poignant anecdotes from historical and contemporary Judaism to personalize the paths Sonsino suggests. The only voice missing from the conversation is his own. The reader learns intriguing bits about Sonsino's background at the very beginning and end of the book: He grew up in Istanbul, attended an Orthodox religious school there, studied law, served in the Turkish army, received his ordination as a Reform rabbi in the United States, served congregations from Buenos Aires to Massachusetts, and calls himself a "rationalist" who examines issues from a historical and critical perspective. But a deeper integration of Sonsino's own experiences with the spiritual quest he describes would have enriched this thoughtful book. (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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