A collection of twenty diverse essays by leading Reform rabbis, educators, and thinkers that highlight their personal encounters with God in everyday life.
Note: The following is the press release for a wonderful new volume of personal reflections about the experience of God and the holy. I was one of the contributors and was asked as well to read through the entire volume during the editing process to offer thoughts and suggestions. I was inspired and moved by these articles, and I urge those of you interested in the variety of doors into the holy and the experience of God to purchase this book, especially now in the month of Elul before the High Holidays.
New York, NY – August 2021 – CCAR Press, a division of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, is honored to announce its newest publication, Because My Soul Longs for You: Integrating Theology into Our Lives. The book is co-edited by Rabbi Edwin C. Goldberg of Congregation Beth Shalom in The Woodlands, Texas, and Rabbi Elaine S. Zecher of Temple Israel in Boston. It includes an introduction by Rabbi Joseph A. Skloot, PhD, the Rabbi Aaron D. Panken Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish Intellectual History at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.
Because My Soul Longs for You responds to one of the most enduring human questions: Where can we find God in our lives? The book’s answer is that holiness can be found in everyday experiences. Contributors discuss how they welcome the Divine presence into their lives in ways that both align with and depart from the traditional ideas of how to encounter God. Among others, the authors explore moments of connection that arise from praying, studying Jewish texts, writing poetry, cooking food, playing music, taking part in acts of service, engaging in physical activity, meditating, and developing interpersonal relationships.
“Instead of asking ‘Do you believe in God?’ Rabbis Zecher and Goldberg ask the more fruitful ‘How do you experience God?’” said Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, Senior Rabbi of New York City’s Central Synagogue. “Their book compiles the transformative experiences of twenty souls who share their encounter with the Divine. Through their stories, we access new language for understanding how we might discover God in our lives, and perhaps realize that God has been with us all along.”
The anthology brings together a diverse group of rabbis and teachers. Among them are Rabbi Anne Brenner, LCSW, a professor at the Academy for Jewish Religion in California and a psychotherapist; Rabbi Rebecca L. Dubowe, the world’s first female Deaf rabbi; Ilana Kurshan, a teacher at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem and the author of the award-winning memoir If All the Seas Were Ink; Rabbi Hara Person, Chief Executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis; and Rabbi John L. Rosove, Senior Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Israel of Hollywood and national co-chair of JStreet’s Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet.
“This book is not only phenomenal, it is also phenomenological—it relates to the ways in which God is experienced rather than simply conceptualized,” said Rabbi Dr. Michael Marmur, Associate Professor and former Provost at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, Jerusalem. “These highly reflective and courageous essays evoke the biblical image of a graceful animal thirsting for water at the brook. So the soul longs for God, experienced in various life situations and described with both beauty and honesty. Because My Soul Longs for You places the soul where it belongs—in the lives and experiences of persons.”
“We think of prayer and study as ways to engage with God, but what about cooking, writing, and making art? Where can we find spirituality in the midst of fear, grief, and conflict? This book brings together some of today’s most creative Jewish minds to answer these questions and many more,” said Rafael Chaiken, Director of CCAR Press. “We hope it will encourage readers to find personal practices that strengthen their own connection to God.”
Because My Soul Longs for You: Integrating Theology into Our Lives is available on CCARPress.org.
About Reform Judaism Publishing and CCAR Press: CCAR Press is the official publisher of the Reform Movement and a division of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Since 1889, the Central Conference of American Rabbis has been a center for lifelong rabbinic learning, professional development, and publishing for the 2,300 rabbis who serve more than 1.5 million Reform Jews throughout North America, Israel, and the world. CCAR Press publishes liturgical resources and texts on Jewish practice that serve its member rabbis, the Reform Movement, and the Jewish community as a whole. CCAR Press, through its trade imprint Reform Judaism Publishing (RJP), is the steward of the Reform Movement’s sacred texts, including its Torah Commentaries and prayerbooks. In addition to books, CCAR Press publishes CCAR Journal: The Reform Jewish Quarterly, and a wide-range of electronic resources, including e-books, apps, and Visual T’filah.