KehillahSF Torah Study 5779

“The Torah is a tree of life to those who cling to it. All who uphold it are happy” (Proverbs 3:18)


Discovering the Spiritual in Jewish Tradition


Please join us at our second meeting on Saturday, January 26th, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

For location, questions, and to RSVP:

This year in our study together, we will explore how the Jewish tradition can guide us to cultivate our spirituality in ways that are personally relevant and meaningful today.

Many of us growing up had the sense that Jewish tradition offered an ethical framework through commandments to take responsibility for those who are vulnerable, to bring more justice into the world, and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

While these are important guideposts for leading a values-based life, when it came to spiritual practice we often found the Judaism presented to us lacking and some of us turned elsewhere for guidance and inspiration.

We will begin with a discussion of what each of us mean by the ‘spiritual’, and where we have found our spiritual inspiration and connections within or outside of the Jewish tradition.

Through biblical texts, poetry, and other writings, we will uncover some of the richness that Judaism has to offer to help us to develop and experience different aspects of spirituality.

The following is a preliminary outline of topics. It is open to modification as we proceed with our readings, discussions, and personal exploration.

  1. What are we talking about when we are talking about the spiritual?
    An exploration of our personal journeys. Where have we found inspiration and where do we feel stuck? What are we looking for now?
    Suggested Readings: Sylvia Boorstein, ‘I am a Jew and I am a Buddhist’ from: That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Buddhist: On Being a Faithful Jew and a Passionate Buddhist pp. 6-12. Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi, Gate to the Heart: A Manual of Contemplative Jewish Practice
  2. Radical Amazement as a Source of Spirituality.
    Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel writes: “Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ….get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”
    Suggested Readings: Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, Prologue: Architecture of Time
  3. The mystical traditions: Hasidism as an approach to the Torah
    Suggested Readings: Selections from Arthur Green, Radical Judaism; Arthur Green and Barry Holtz, Your Word is Fire: The Hasidic Masters on Contemplative Prayer; ‘
    The poetical framework of the Zohar: ‘reimagining God as the animating force that lights the universe’ (Danny Matt)
  4. Spirituality as a call to action – The spiritual connection between Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Heschel – from Susannah Heschel
  5. Jewish Spirituality and encounters with mortality: facing illness, loss, and the end of life. Rabbi Eric Weiss – guest speaker

For location, questions, and to RSVP:





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