“The joy was more palpable than any other prayer service I have ever experienced…PROFOUND. Thank you.”

— Lay Retreat participant Winter 2012

Recommended Readings

Books

Staff

  • Jonathan Slater – Slater, Jonathan, P. Mindful Jewish Living: Compassionate Practice. New York: Aviv Press, 2004.
  • Sheila Weinberg – Weinberg, Sheila, Surprisingly Happy: an Atypical Religious Memoir.  Massachusetts: White River Press, 2010
  • Rachel Cowan  – Cowan, Paul and Cowan, Rachel. Mixed Blessings: Overcoming the Stumbling Blocks in an Interfaith Marriage. New York: Penguin Books, 1987.
  • Nancy Flam, Jonathan Slater, Sheila Weinberg - Jewish Mysticism and the Spiritual Life: Classical Texts, Contemporary Reflections, is a publication in honor of Art Green, edited by Larry Fine, Eitan Fishbane and Or Rose is now out by Jewish Lights. Three of our staff members, Nancy Flam, Sheila Weinberg, and Jonathan Slater are co-contributors. You can view it here, or read much of it online in the google scan section of the page.

Guest Faculty

Lawrence Fine

  • Fine, Lawrence, ed. Essential Papers on Kabbalah. New York, New York: University Press, 1995.
  • Fine, Lawrence, ed. Judaism in Practice: From the Middle Ages through the Early Modern Period. Princeton Readings in Religion, Princeton University Press, 2001.
  • Fine, Lawrence. Physician of the Soul, Healer of the Cosmos–Isaac Luria and His Kabbalistic Fellowship. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2003.
  • Fine, Lawrence and Ben Zion Bokser. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook: The Lights of Penitence, Lights of Holiness: The Moral Principles, Essays, Letter and Poems. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1978.
  • Fine, Lawrence. Safed Spirituality; The Classics of Western Spirituality Series. New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1984.

Shefa Gold

  • Gold, Shefa. Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to Your Promised Land. Teaneck, New Jersey: Ben Yehuda Press, 2006.

Art Green

  • Green, Arthur. Ehyeh: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2002.
  • Green, Arthur. A Guide to the Zohar. Palo Alto, California: Stanford University Press, 2004.
  • Green, Arthur. Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl–Upright Practices, Light of the Eyes. New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1982.
  • Green, Arthur. Seek My Face: A Jewish Mystical Theology. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights Publishing, second edition, 2003 [Originally published as Seek My Face, Speak My Name: A Jewish Mystical Theology. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson, 1992]
  • Green, Arthur. Tormented Master: The Life and Spiritual Quest of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1992.
  • Green, Arthur. These Are the Words: A Vocabulary of Jewish Spiritual Life. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1999.
  • Green, Arthur and Barry W. Holtz, editors and translators. Your Word is Fire: The Hasidic Masters on Contemplative Prayer. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1993.

Nehemia Polen

  • Polen, Nehemia and Lawrence Kushner. Filling Words with Light: Hasidic and Mystical Reflections on Jewish Prayer.Woodstock, Vermont. Jewish Lights Publishing, 2004.
  • Polen, Nehemia. The Holy Fire: The Teachings of Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto, Northvale NJ, Jason Aronoson, 1994.
  • Polen, Nehemia ed. The Rebbe’s Daughter: Memoir of a Hasidic Childhood, by Malkah Shapiro, translated from the Hebrew, edited, and with introduction and commentary by Nehemia Polen, Philadelphia PA, Jewish Publication Society, 2002.

Michael Strassfeld

  • Strassfeld, Michael. A Book of Life: Embracing Judaism as a Spiritual Practice. New York: Schocken Books, A Division of Random House, Inc. 2002.

Articles

  • The Institute in the News
  • News about the field – meditation
  • News about the field – yoga

Selected Bibliography - The IJS faculty has compiled this bibliography with suggestions of books that you might like to read in order to contextualize and deepen your learning in the areas of meditation, prayer, yoga, education/adolescent development, spirituality and social justice, and/or Kabbalah and Hasidut. In many ways, these books reflect “where we are coming from,” and what we have found meaningful ourselves. This is a selection of titles and is by no means meant to be exhaustive. In addition to these recommended titles, go with the books that move you.

JEWISH AND GENERAL MEDITATION

  • Boorstein, Sylvia. Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. This is a short and compact set of instructions for mindfulness practice. It is very similar to what is being taught at IJS. One of the clearest and briefest summary of the instructions. It provides guidelines on having your own mindfulness retreat.
  • Boorstein, Sylvia. Pay Attention for Goodness’ Sake. New York: Ballantine Books, 2002. While this book is written in the idiom of Buddhism, its author is a practicing Jew and had the cultivation of middot in mind as well in the presentation of the qualities of mind and heart that may be cultivated in medita- tion. There are excellent meditation exercises, stories and deep wisdom about applying one’s practice in one’s life.
  • Buxbaum, Yitzhak. Jewish Spiritual Practices. New Jersey: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1990. This is an amaz- ing book with a huge variety of material and a chapter on meditation in Jewish sources.
  • Davis, Avram, ed. Meditation From The Heart of Judaism. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights, 1997. This is a compilation of essays by contemporary Jewish teachers of meditation. Shefa Gold, Sheila Weinberg and Jonathan Omer–Man all have essays included. This volume gives you an idea of the vari- ety of perspectives on current teachers and teachings of meditation in the Jewish world.
  • Eckstein, Menahem. Visions of a Compassionate World: Guided Imagery for Spiritual Growth and Social Transformation. Urim Publications, 2001. This is a recently translated work from the 1920s. For those of you interested in guided imagery it is valuable. Its context is more universal than Jewish although it was developed and used in the context of an observant Jewish community.
  • Kabat-Zinn, Myla and Jon. Everyday Blessings: The Inner World of Mindful Parenting. New York: Hyperion, 1997. This is a great book on the application of mindfulness practice to daily life and to the many issues that emerge in family life. It is filled with down-to-earth examples and also gives a won- derful explanation of the value of mindfulness and its practice. There is also a chapter on a classroom application.
  • Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. New York: Hyperion Books, 1994. A readable, practical introduction to mindfulness practice.
  • Kaplan, Aryeh, Jewish Meditation. New York: Schocken Books, 1985. This could be called a classic compilation of Jewish sources on meditation, broadly defined. In many cases Kaplan reconstructs what might have been practices based on fragmentary sources. It is very well done and accessible. Kaplan has two other works on meditation that are more complex, one includes Biblical, and one, Kabbalistic material.
  • 1Slater, Jonathan, P. Mindful Jewish Living, Compassionate Practice. New York: Aviv Press, 2004. This is a brand new and very important book by a faculty and staff member of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. This book weaves together mindfulness practice, Hassidic spirituality and profound wis- dom and guidance for living a meaningful Jewish spiritual life.
  • Verman, Mark, The History and Varieties of Jewish Meditation. New Jersey: Jason Aronson, 1996. This is the most scholarly volume on the list. It contains excellent sources from a wide range of Jewish lit- erature and is well researched and presented. It is a good overall view of the subject.

PRAYER

  • Brown, Steven M. Higher and Higher: Making Jewish Prayer Part of Us. United Synagogue of America, Dept. of Youth Activities, 1988. “Still an excellent volume of real programs and discussions to open teens up to the meaning and purpose of prayer.” –Shelly Dorph
  • Green, Arthur and Holtz, Barry W. Your Word is Fire: The Hasidic Masters on Contemplative Prayer. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1993. This book contains short but powerful excerpts of beautiful, early Hasidic teachings on prayer. Each selection can be read as a focus for devotion. It covers ideas such as emotion in prayer, the power of words, dissolving the ego, and concentration.
  • Hammer, Reuven. Entering Jewish Prayer: A Guide to Personal Devotion and the Worship Service. New York: Schocken Books, 1994. This book provides a fairly traditional, comprehensive overview of the history and meaning of Jewish prayer, including the major rubrics of the liturgy. It is smart and read- able, and one of the newest of its kind.
  • Heschel, Abraham Joshua. Quest for God: Studies in Prayer and Symbolism. New York: Crossroads, 1984. Anything Heschel writes about prayer is worth reading. For instance, several articles in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity are extraordinary. However, this is Heschel’s book-long reflection on the dynamics of prayer. The second chapter, “The Person and the Word” is exquisite and brilliantly explores the dialectic of “prayers of expression” and “prayers of empathy.”
  • Hoffman, Rabbi Jeff, and Cohen-Keiner, Andrea. Karov L’Chol Korav–For All Who Call: A Manual for Enhancing the Teaching of Prayer. New York: Melton Reseach Center for Jewish Education, 2000. This is a lovely resource for teaching prayer in a creative, embodied, playful way. It provides well articulat- ed teaching ideas (including mini-scripts to help with process, tone, safety, etc.) to help adults and young people enter an experience of different prayers and their essential meanings. Includes a CD with guided meditations, chants and melodies. Very easy to use and easy to adapt.
  • Hoffman, Lawrence A. My People’s Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1998. This is an ambitious and largely successful series of books aiming to provide a modern commentary on the traditional liturgy, from a variety of perspec- tives. It focuses on each section of the liturgy (e.g. Shema, Amida, etc.), providing commentary from literary, historical, halachik, feminist and Hasidic points of view, prayer by prayer.
  • Jacobs, Louis. Hasidic Prayer. New York: Schocken Books, 1973. This is a fascinating look into the world of Hasidic prayer, from an academic (not a “how to”) perspective. It contains much primary material in translation. The “academic” companion to the “devotional”or “inspirational” Your Word is Fire.
  • The Reconstructionist: A Journal of Contemporary Jewish Thought and Practice, New Thinking on Naming and Imaging God. Volume 59, Number 1, Spring 1994. While this issue of the Reconstructionist is not focused on prayer, per se, it is focused on God and new ways of thinking about God. Very accessible. Very creative. The piece by Daniel Matt is one of my favorite article-length reflections about thinking about God as “You” and God as “One.”

YOGA

  • Bloomfield, Diane. Torah Yoga: Experiencing Jewish Wisdom Through Classic Postures San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004. Clear and rich teachings on yoga and Jewish themes presented as an integrated whole. Introduces Jewish themes reflected in yoga practice, and visa versa, and, clear instruction in yoga flows which embody those themes.
  • Birch, Beryl Bender. Power Yoga: the Total Strength and Flexibility Workout. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995. Based on the physically demanding Ashtanga yoga flow. This book provides clear instruction and photographs with attention to details of postures, and mindful awareness of the sub- tleties of the practice. Good resource for those drawn to Ashtanga system of yoga.
  • Choudhury, Bikram. Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class. New York: Jeremy Tarcher, 2000. Engaging and thorough instructions for the classic Bikram yoga sequence, with photographs and commentary to augment detailed instruction in this method of “hot yoga.” Physically demanding and physically focused.
  • Farhi, Donna. Yoga Mind, Body and Spirit: A Return to Wholeness. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2000. Excellent treatment of the core movement and energetic principles that underlie all forms of yoga practice. Detailed and creative approach to working in postures that provides a deepening of the work. Lots of posture examples, and underlying principles as well.
  • Farhi, Donna. Bringing Yoga to Life: the Everyday Practice of Enlightened Living. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 2003. Teachings about how yoga can be about so much more that what happens on the mat. Spiritual principles and psychological applications integrating what we learn as we work with our bodies, into the rest of our lives.
  • Iyengar, B.K.S. Light on Yoga. New York: Schocken Books, 1979. Master teacher Iyengar guiding techni- cal points of many postures. A standard reference book for yoga practice.
  • Lasater, Judith Ph.D., PT. 30 Essential Yoga Poses: for Beginning Students and their Teachers. Berkeley, California: Rodmell Press, 2003. Elegant and clear presentation of core yoga postures with detailed, safe and careful alignment. I find this book helpful at all stages of yoga practice, and the tips for ‘teachers’ provide further information to refine stance of mind and body in the poses. Lasater brings Iyengar yoga’s focus on detailed alignment together with compassion and simplicity to provide a strong resource for building a yoga practice.
  • Lasater, Judith, Ph.D., PT. Living your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life. Berkeley, California: Rodmell Press, 2000. Teachings about how we work with ourselves in spiritual practice off the mat, based upon lessons learned from mindful practice during a yoga session. Spiritual qualities such as “Discipline,” “Compassion,” Attachment and Aversion” are discussed with clarity, wisdom and humor. An important reflection about bringing the sacred into all realms of what we do.
  • Schiffman, Eric. Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness. New York: Pocket Books, 1996. Strong posture fundamentals based upon Schiffman’s focus on connecting to the inner life and cur- rents of energy and center. A deeply integrated, integrating approach to yoga practice and instruction.
  • Sell, Christina. Yoga from the Inside Out: Making Peace with Your Body Through Yoga. Prescott, Arizona: HOHM Press, 2003. Sell is an Anusara yoga teacher and works with women and men of all sizes and shapes. This book teaches the central Anusara approach about the spiritual power of yoga as an art form through which we can come to love and transform our relationship with our physical bodies and find beauty in each expression of every moment. A beautiful and healing book for any of us who have struggled with coming to terms, and peace, with our bodies. It does not teach postures but is a philosophy/reflection on this approach to working with our embodiment in an integrated and nonviolent way.
  • Yee, Rodney. Power Yoga Total Body DVD. GAIAM Americas. This DVD provides clear, deep posture flow that combines strength, flexibility, and stamina challenges within a contemplative rhythm that allows for inner focus. Best suited for those with some prior yoga experience.

SPIRITUALITY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

  • Eisenberg, Evan. The Ecology of Eden: An Inquiry into the Dream of Paradise and a New Vision of Our Role in Nature. New York: Vintage Books, 1999.
  • Bernstein, Ellen and Dan Fink. Let the Earth Teach You Torah. Washington, D.C.: Shomrei Adamah. 1992.
  • Gottlieb, Roger S. Joining Hands: Politics and Religion Together for Social Change. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 2004.
  • Heschel, Abraham Joshua. Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: essays edited by Susannah Heschel. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996.
  • Horwitz, Claudia. A Stone’s Throw: Living the Act of Faith. Social Transformation Through Faith and Spiritual Practice. Stone Circles, 1999; Penguin Books, 2002.
  • Lerner, Michael. Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation. New York: Perennial; A divi- sion of HarperCollins Publishers. 1995.
  • Meyer, Naomi, Marshall T., Jane Isay, ed. You Are My Witness: The Living Words of Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 2004.
  • Vorspan, Albert and David Saperstein. Jewish Dimensions of Social Justice: Tough Moral Choices of Our Time. New York: Urj Press. 1998.
  • Waskow, Arthur. Torah of the Earth: Exploring 4,000 Years of Ecology in Jewish Thought. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2000.

KABBALAH & HASIDUT

  • Bokser, Ben Zion. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook: The Lights of Penitance, Lights of Holiness: The Moral Principles, Essays, Letter and Poems. New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1978. A large collection of the writings of one of the most important Jewish mystics of the twentieth century. Rav Kook was born in Eastern Europe, but migrated to the land of Israel where he became the first chief rabbi of the Ashkenazi community.
  • Buber, Martin. Tales of the Hasidim: The Early and Late Masters. New York: Schocken Books, 1975. Buber’s classic rendition of tales about the Hasidic masters, an indispensable part of any library on Hasidism.
  • Buber, Martin. The Origin and Meaning of Hasidism (Humanity Books: 1988); Hasidism and Modern Man (University of Pennsylvania Press: 1988). Two beautiful books by the most important expositor of Hasidism to the West in the pre-War period. In these essays, Buber describes the development of his own enchantment with Hasidism, and explores its spiritual meaning from his point of view. Buber brings Hasidism to life through explorations of what it means to him as a spiritual seeker.
  • Deutch, Nathaniel. The Maiden of Ludmir: A Jewish Holy Woman and Her World. University of California Press, 2003. When we think of Hasidism we tend to think mostly of a world of men. Where were the women? Nathaniel Deutch speaks to this question through an interesting, scholarly studyof the Maid of Ludmir, a somewhat mysterious nineteenth-century woman who aspired to be a leader of Hasidim! While this book doesn’t answer all of our questions about women in Hasidism, it opens them up in interesting ways.
  • Green, Arthur. Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl–Upright Practices, Light of the Eyes. New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1982. An important translation of the homiletical (sermonic/midrashic) teachings of this early Hasidic master on the book of Bereshit.
  • Lamm, Norman. The Religious Thought of Hasidism: Text and Commentary. Yeshiva University Press, 1999. A voluminous collection of Hasidic texts, covering every important topic in Hasidic thought. While these translations are not as felicitious as Art Green’s, it is an important collection of Hasidism in English.
  • Langer, Jiri. Nine Gates to the Chassidic Mysteries. Berhman House: 1976. Jiri Langer (1894-1943) was a Czech poet and author who, after having visited Palestine in 1913, decided to live among the Hasidim in Galicia, in the town of Belz. He lived among the Belzer Hasidim and the court of the Rokeah dynasty for some years, before returning to Prague. This gem of a book preserves anecdotes about Hasidic masters, as well as their teachings, all written in a beautifully simple and poetic manner. In my view, this is one of the most beautiful books ever written about Judaism, no less Hasidism.
  • Matt, Daniel C. The Essential Kabbalah. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995. A wonderful collec- tion of primary texts from the whole of Jewish mystical tradition, beautifully presented by the premier translator of mystical texts into English. (All of Matt’s Zohar translations are also important and valu- able, including Zohar–The Book of Englightenment (Paulist Press), and Zohar: Pritzker Edition (Stanford), volumes 1-2 currently available.
  • Weiner, Herbert. 9 1/2 Mystics–The Kabbalah Today. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992. This superb book was originally published in 1969 and reissued in an updated edition several years ago. Written long before Kabbalah and Hasidism became household words, Weiner (a Reform rabbi!) takes his readers on a fascinating tour of important personalities in modern Jewish mystical thought, including, for example, Gershom Scholem, Martin Buber, and Rav Kook. Written in a lyrical, inspiring way.

EDUCATION, ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT & THE SPIRITUAL LIFE

  • Elkind, David A. A Sympathetic Understanding of the Child-Birth to Sixteen, Third Edition, Allyn and Bacon, 1994. The best developmental volume I know on the physical, mental and psychological devel- opment of kids to the age of sixteen.
  • Fowler, James W. Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995. The classic on faith development with a full chapter on adolescent faith development which, on first reading sounds like we should give up. But, it sets the problem which require translation from adult patterns to teen development.
  • Gendler, Ruth J. The Book of Qualities. Perennial, 1988. A short booklet about middot and emotional qualities of person. Each quality of being is beautifully described and characterized. Allows us to raise questions of who we are with teens and their middot.
  • Kessler, Rachael. The Soul of Education: Helping Students Find Connection, Compassion, and Character at School. Alexandria, Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), 2000. This is an excellent volume on working with teens and building trust so they can talk about their spiritual selves; includes both theory and practice. It’s right on target.
  • Lanteri, Linda, ed. Schools with Spirit: Nurturing the Inner Lives of Children and Teachers. Boston: Beacon Press, 2001. An excellent collection of essays, especially the one by Parker Palmer, who is the outstanding proponent for spiritual growth of children and teens in public schools. Also contains a shorter version of the Kessler book in article form. Each chapter illustrates another entry point into the spiritual life of teens, and the role of personal growth of teachers in being able to foster this in teens.
  • Ochs, Carol, Olitzky, Kerry and Saltzman, Joshua. Paths of Faithfulness: Personal Essays on Jewish Spirituality. New Jersey: KTAV, 1997. What’s nice about this is not especially the content, but the approach in telling one’s own spiritual journey, which sometimes we need to–or ought to–do.