17 noviembre 2008

Meditation and Jewish prayer

“Mindful Jewish Living: Compassionate Practice” by Jonathan P. Slater

In this popular introduction to Jewish mindfulness practice, Rabbi Jonathan P. Slater examines Jewish sources and applies their teachings to the practices of mindfulness and meditation. Drawing from Hasidic texts, as well as liturgical, talmudic, and midrashic sources, the author demonstrates how Jewish teachings can make us aware of the spiritual essence of our lives.

(imagen y texto tomados de Amazon.com)

Entrevista con el autor:

Meditation and Jewish prayer “do speak to each other,” Slater said in a recent telephone interview. “The experience that I have with meditation helps me to stay awake when I’m davening and maintain a more consistent awareness of what I’m doing and be able to recognize when I’ve wandered more quickly.”

Conversely, he said, his meditation practice has made his experience in synagogue that much richer.

Slater, a Conservative rabbi who left the Bay Area in 2001, now lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., and is on the faculty of the Massachusetts-based Institute for Jewish Spirituality, which runs programs for Jewish professionals and lay leaders to support them in developing their spiritual life.

“How far back should I look to find the point in my life from which this book emerges?” Slater writes in his preface. “Where do its origins lie? How have I moved from ‘Who knows?’ to ‘Here I am?’ Now, having concluded the process of writing it, I sense that there is nothing else I could have done instead.”

Slater said that his work at the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center was instrumental in introducing him to Chassidic texts, which made him aware of the centrality of meditation to mystical Judaism. And he cites his friendship with his congregant Sylvia Boorstein as highly influential. The Buddhist meditation teacher, observant Jew and author writes the foreword to his book.

Slater spends much of the book on the concept of mindfulness, the practice of being completely in the moment, aware and finely attuned to one’s thoughts and actions.

“Mindfulness is a practice that we do all the time,” he said. “It is supported by meditation, but is not what happens in meditation.”

And in applying that concept to Judaism, he said, “The study of Chassidic texts with the orientation of mindfulness opened me up toward experiencing God in my life and really making clear what the nature of relationships with other people are supposed to be.”

Slater said he wrote the book for the Jewish seeker, or “somebody who has a fluency in their own experience with a seeking for God and a desire to live a life that is informed with a spiritual awareness, to offer to them a Jewish language for that.”

He also hopes clergy and lay people will be interested, as a way “to expand what they’re doing in their Jewish lives.”

He concluded, “Spirituality isn’t accomplished by doing certain things, but by connection and awareness.”

Siddur Seder Ha-T'fillot (Forms of Prayer)

Recientemente el movimiento reformista en el Reino Unido ha sacado un nuevo siddur, Seder Ha-T'fillot (Forms of Prayer), alejado del Gates of Prayer del movimiento en EE.UU. El británico, hermoso en su diseño, ofrece algo más próximo a la tradición en cuanto a la estructura y el contenido, pero con los elementos que se esperan de la tradición judía liberal en cuanto a género, tikun olam...

Un excelente siddur para la sinagoga y también para casa repleto de comentarios sobre el porqué de los cambios y de textos para el estudio.

Tomado de Rabbi Warren Elf

The new Siddur, Seder Ha-T'fillot (Forms of Prayer), reintroduces some traditional material we have not used for a while and introduces some exciting new material. It has new prayers for various life events, e.g. on leaving home, for parents when a child leaves home (you'll have to read it for yourself to see if it's a prayer of relief or sadness), on retirement, during depression and for animal companions. There is also an expanded section of communal prayers for a wide variety of situations.

It contains more meditations; more study passages and more options for our daily, Shabbat and occasional services. Seder Ha-T'fillot also introduces transliteration in key sections of the Siddur to help those who struggle with Hebrew to participate more easily. I still strongly recommend that you learn (more) Hebrew if you do not find it easy to read, but the transliteration helps the accessibility to the service and key prayers.

Whether you want to use our new Siddur in the service or at home, I recommend you enjoy some time browsing through it to see its richness. I will be offering an opportunity to explore Seder Ha-T'fillot on Sunday mornings over the next few months and look forward to welcoming you to do this.


Rabbi Marcia Prager, Dean, ALEPH Rabbinic Program

Jewish Renewal is a phenomenon, not a denomination. It resembles Reform Judaism in some ways, Reconstructionism in other ways, and even Orthodoxy – especially Hassidism – in some important ways. But it is not a formal denomination with a formal hierarchy or structure. It is the ongoing creative project of a generation of Jews who are seeking to renew Judaism and bring its spiritual and ethical vitality into our lives and communities, and at the same time embrace a global vision of the role of all human beings and spiritual paths in the transformation of life on this precious planet.

Jewish Renewal is dedicated to revealing Judaism's inner spirit and nurturing the spiritual life of Jews. Jewish Renewal draws significant spiritual inspiration from the legacy of Jewish mystical and Hassidic traditions, which is expressed in the cultivation of traditional practices such as meditation, chanting, and davening and the study of traditional Kabbalistic and Hassidic sources to enhance both individual and communal practice.

Jewish Renewal seeks to transform and renew the kavanah (spiritual intention) with which Jews of all kinds practice Judaism.

Jewish Renewal is a "movement" in the sense of a wave in motion, a grassroots effort to discover the modern meaning of Judaism as a spiritual practice. Jewish Renewalists see "renewal" as a process reaching beyond denominational boundaries and institutional structures, more similar to the multi-centered civil- rights or women's movements than to contemporary denominations. This renewal process is happening in Jewish music, liturgy, midrash, education, politics, etc., in synagogues as well as havurot, and even in "secular" settings.

Jewish Renewal sees itself as trans-denominational, a movement that transcends the boundaries of the various denominations. Its membership includes people who are active in the Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Orthodox worlds as well as many others whose only religious/spiritual affiliation is Renewal.

In a deep way, Jewish Renewal is built on the idea that we live in a transformative moment in time, in which a new paradigm for spiritual life is being developed. Jewish Renewal draws heavily on the thought of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, which is a loving critique of the limitations of traditional Rabbinic Judaism and a call to continue the ongoing renewal of Jewish life in our time, as the Talmudic rabbis did in theirs.

Jewish Renewal actively seeks a relationship with God as the immanent reality that suffuses all creation and from time to time calls to us from beyond creation as well. This changes how we view the earth, the human race, the Jewish people, the relationship of human beings to the rest of creation - everything. Jewish Renewal is neither "halakhic" nor “anti-halakhic” but "neo-halakhic." Just as Rabbinic Judaism involved transcending the halakhah of Temple sacrifice, so Jewish Renewal seeks to go beyond the limitations of traditional Rabbinic Judaism to forge a new halakhah in which Judaism is conscious of its place in an interconnected world. This new halakhah, for instance, includes expansion of the practice of kashrut to include ecological and ethical criteria, a new exploration of the concept of work as it applies to both the personal and societal Shabbat, and re-examination of intimacy and intimate relationships.

Jewish Renewal has long been committed to a fully egalitarian approach to Jewish life and welcomes the public and creative input of those who were traditionally excluded from the process of forming the Jewish tradition.

In Jewish Renewal:

•women and men are fully equal & participatory in shaping the future of Judaism;

•those who have often been marginalized in Jewish life are welcomed and honored;

•there is respect for and often learning from other spiritual paths (e.g., Buddhism, Sufi, etc.),

•people seek to heal the earth and society through seeking peace, justice,and ecological wholeness;

•chant, meditation, dance, and drama are encouraged as ways of connectingwith God & Torah;

•people desire to **embody** wisdom rather than etherealize orintellectualize it;

•people strive to personally sense God as suffusing the world with Divinity.

Jewish Renewal is "maximalist" about Judaism – that is, Jewish spiritual practice is undertaken joyously and Jewish values are applied in many down-to-earth life dimensions (food, money, sex, health, politics, etc.) rather than restricted to prayer, holidays, or Torah study