Elie Spitz Irwin Kula with Linda Loewenthal, Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life , Hyperion, 2006, 224 pp, $22.95 Irwin Kula wears his hair long, speaks dramatically, and confronts his audience with edgy ideas that spur conversation long after the presentation ends. It is hard to translate his energetic, frank, conversational tone into writing.
Bradley Shavit Artson Leadership is all the rage these days. Professors of leadership and management define, analyze, and propose models of leadership, and business sections of bookstores are filled with leadership/mentoring books. Jewish authors have jumped on the bandwagon too, sifting Jewish tradition and history for role models of leadership (especially Moses) and for lessons
As we approach the High Holidays, once again we face the fruitful yet demanding tension between individual and collective, between private and public notions of religious life that pervade Jewish tradition. The rabbinic sources suggest that the eruv has something quite beautiful and deep to teach, something that is related to the paradox we encounter on the High Holidays.
Since September 11th, a conversation has been brewing within the American Jewish community about how to balance our historic support for civil liberties with our growing awareness of the risks of terrorism and the need to protect ourselves from external threats. How much privacy are we willing to give up in exchange for a greater feeling of security? And how much risk are we willing to bear in order to live in a free and open society?
The High Holidays are a first person, singular, spiritual experience. Both prayers and Torah readings point to a private and emotional spiritual encounter with God. Abraham descended Mount Moriah alone. Hannah battled her infertility alone. Jonah ran away from God by himself. In Mizmor L’Dovid, the psalm we read from the beginning of Elul until the holiday season is over, David asked for only one thing: to dwell alone with God in His sanctuary. David asked for no company other than the divine presence.
After I spent four years in the JTS rabbinical program, how did my life evolve to become a mother of eight children and a dance instructor living in Gush Etzion?
1. How do you make each Rosh Hashana new? How do you infuse the holiday prayers with a newness that captivates your attention?
2. Al cheyt is the communal recitation, the litany that begins, “We have sinned…” Why do we recite this prayer in the plural? What is today’s greatest sin?
3. What is the tension running through the High Holiday liturgy between private, individual prayer and communal prayer?
4. How do we, as Jews, balance our historic support of civil liberties (privacy) with our sense of caution as the world becomes more threatening?