Judaism is often called the path of blessings. In an excerpt from Jewish Meditation Practices for Everyday Life, Jeff Roth explains how to give and receive blessings. A list of blessings is included in The Book of Jewish Sacred Practices. See also Brenda Shoshana, Lawrence Kushner, and Marcia Prager.
The Jewish Year
Jewish life is organized by the rhythms of sacred time — a cycle of seasons and festivals. Read about them in Jewish Days by Francine Klagsbrun, Inviting God In by David Aaron, and Seasons of Our Joy by Arthur Waskow. Watch a video of Zalman Schachter-Shalomi talking about the Jewish holidays.
If you get one book on Jewish spirituality, make it The Jewish Lights Spirituality Handbook, in which Stuart Matlins has gathered 50 writers to shed light on community, meditation, mysticism, rituals, and more. If you want another book, make it Jewish Spirituality: A Brief Introduction for Christians by Lawrence Kushner.
Visiting a Synagogue
What You Will See Inside a Synagogue is an informative and well illustrated book aimed at children 6 - 10. Lawrence A. Hoffman and Ron Wolfson explain how Jews pray, read the Torah, enjoy Shabbat, celebrate holidays, and repair the world.
Observing the Sabbath
"Shabbat is the quintessential Jewish observance and one of the most important contributions the Jews have to offer the larger world," writes Michael Lerner in an excerpt from the anthology Shabbat Reader. In an excerpt from 7th Heaven, Moshe Mykoff explains the ritual bath. In Sabbath Soul Eitan Fishbane discusses Sabbath peace.
"What do you think would make God cry or laugh?" is one question for engaging children's imaginations in God's Paintbrush by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso. This great book encourages kids ages 4 - 8 to encounter God in the daily lives. See also the Activity Kit, Teacher's Guide, and an interview with Sasso on children's spirituality.
Candles: Connections to God
"Let there be light" was God's very first act of creation. Light is a symbol of God and a symbol of God in us. When we light a candle, we imitate God. These are some of the observations by Wayne Dosick about the candle ritual at the beginning of the Sabbath.
Kaddish - The Mourner's Prayer
In the Jewish tradition, mourners for the dead are to say the kaddish (an Aramaic poem which praises God) daily for eleven months. In his memoir, Living a Year of Kaddish, Ari L. Goldman recounts the soul-searching catalyzed by this practice after his father died. In an excerpt he explains how grieved his mother.
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Rabbi Heschel (1907-1972) was a spiritual teacher and moral prophet par excellence. Here is more about him. In his classic book, he described the Sabbath as a "sanctuary in time." As he writes in this excerpt from his Essential Writings, he saw wonder as a spur to faith and as an appreciation of the mysteries of life.
Jewish Choices, Jewish Voices
The Jewish Publication Society has created a very needed and helpful new series of books that explore cutting-edge subjects along with relevant materials from ancient, medieval, and modern sources. Subjects covered so far: Body, Money, Sex and Intimacy, War and National Security, and Social Justice.
Enrolling as a Lamed-Vavnik
Rami Shapiro in an excerpt from The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness notes that according to Talmudic legend, at any given moment there are always 36 people, called , who live both for themselves and others and keep human beings from total annihilation. You are invited to become one of these hidden saints — and for good measure, to recruit some others.
This Jewish movement within Judaism emphasizes mystical contemplation, joyful religious service, and intentional living. Our review of God in All Moments by Or N. Rose and Ebn D. Leader includes some Hasidic practices. For more of this wisdom, see Hasidic Tales by Rami Shapiro and The Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov and Jewish Tales of Mystic Joy by Yitzhak Buxbaum.