Rabbi Goldie Milgram is the founder and executive director of ReclaimingJudaism.org, which offers seminars and web-based resources for seekers and teachers on the application of Jewish spiritual practices. She has pioneered more than thirty years of experiments in spiritual expression in contexts as diverse as Esalen, Elat Chayyim, Princeton University and Bard College, the United Jewish Communities, and the Hadassah Foundation. She has been training rabbis and cantors for almost seven years as dean at the Academy of Jewish Religion in New York City. She is the author of Meaning & Mitzvah: Daily Practices for Reclaiming Judaism Through Prayer, God, Torah, Hebrew, Mitzvot and Peoplehood.
Milgram begins with this image: "Think of how the headlights of cars streaming along a dark highway become a loop of continuous light. The Jewish holidays are designed to help you sense the light of transformation traveling through your soul stream, cleansing it and adding vital nutrients. These sacred days can help you enjoy the safest and most expanded life possible, while also planting the seeds of even greater possibilities to be harvested by generations to come. Seen through the lens of ever-changing times, the value of the holy days endures, speaking ever-new volumes."
In this excellent resource, Milgram covers Sukkot (community and meditation in nature); Simhat Torah (the practice of scroll reversal); Hanukkah (a celebration of holy hutzpah); Tu Bi-Shevat (fruit for thought); Purim (odd lots of spirit); Passover (learning the exodus process); Shavuot (renewing vision); Yom HaShoah, Yom HaAtzmaut, and Tisha b'Av (healing from the hard knocks of history); and Rosh Hodesh and Kiddush Levanah (revitalizing natural cycles).
In her fine chapter on reclaiming the Sabbath, Milgram challenges readers to envision this holy day as part of a healing plan to recover from slavery and to live every seventh day as if your work were finished. She recalls a practice mentioned by her teacher Reb Zalaman on depositing items which required safekeeping into a box until the Sabbath was over (including such things as keys to the office, wallets, messages to be returned, cell phones, PalmPilots, and television remote controls). This Shabbos Box helps free us from the hold the workaday world has on us. This kind of spiritual practice enables us to bring focus to Jewish holidays.
These "recipes," as Milgram calls them, restore the soul and infuse every day with spiritual meaning.