Marcia Falk graduated from Brandeis University and earned her doctorate in English and Comparative Literature from Stanford. Falk was a professor of literature, Jewish studies, and creative writing for many years. Today, she is a popular public speaker on subjects ranging from Jewish women's voices to the love poetry of the Bible. Visit her website at www.marciafalk.com.

Here at last is the long awaited sequel to her groundbreaking liturgical work The Book of Blessings, which was written "for those dissatisfied or frustrated with the traditional prayers and for those who appreciate the traditional texts and wish to build upon them." Among the helpful spiritual resources you will find in this new volume are Hebrew and English blessings for festive meals, prayers for synagogue services, and poems for personal meditation.

Like The Book of Blessings, Falk recreates Jewish prayer from an inclusive, nonhierarchical perspective. The intention is to "bring fresh language and meaning to the seasonal liturgy and to speak to the widest possible spectrum of Jews looking for a new experience of the High Holidays."

In "Approaching the Gates: Festive Meal for Rosh Hashanah Eve" Falk spices up this period with short and sweet devotional pieces. Here are some examples.

Blessing of Renewal

"Springs and rivers gush forth,
flowing between the hills."
— Psalms 104:10

"We enter the gates, grateful
for the blessing of renewal.

Let us bless the flow of life
that revives us,
sustains us,
and brings us to this time."

Blessing the Children

"The squares of the city will be filled
with boys and girls playing."
— Zechariah 8:5

"Be who you are,
and may you be blessed
in all that you are."

Washing the Hands

"I will wash my palms
in Innocence."
— Psalms 16:6

"Washing the hands,
we call to mind
the holiness of the body."

Blessing after the Meal

"You will eat your fill of bread
and dwell securely on the land."
— Leviticus 26:5

"If thre is a needy person among you . . .
open your hand and give."
— Deuteronomy 15: 7 - 8

We are grateful for the riches
of the good, giving earth.

We will tend the earth's gifts,
that they may flourish,

and seek sustenance for all
who dwell here with us."

There is a lyrical quality to Falk's devotional writings as they appear in her musings on presence, gratitude, sadness, time, death, silence, and open questions. And underlying it all is the Unity which ties all traditions and quests together:

"The divine abounds everywhere
and dwells in everything.

Its faces are infinite,
Its source suffuses all.
The many are One."

Marcia Falk is a master of devotional materials, and it is always a delight to re-immerse ourselves in her wisdom and creativity.