Nurturing the Spiritual Lives of Our Children

According to the March 2009 report, How Spiritual Are America’s Jew?, spirituality is one of the gateways into meaningful Jewish life, a gateway that the Jewish community has neglected.  The authors of the report, Steven Cohen and Lawrence Hoffman, find that Jews lack the language to talk about God.  Without language to describe spiritual experiences, those experiences are fleeting. 

How to Be a Truly Spiritual Jew*

(*and avoid the pitfalls of quick-fix religious consumerism)

by Jeffrey K. Salkin

From Reform Judaism, Fall 1995
Reprinted with Permission.

Everywhere you go in the Reform movement, the word on people's lips is spirituality. It is the religious buzz word of our age.

Generation Four: Spirituality Seekers

The search for spirituality transcends the empowerment of women and Jews by choice, of course. It is inextricably linked to larger demographic changes that began to be felt in the 1960s when the first phalanx of baby-boomers came of age. Those same men and women are now in their forties, and are but one of three cohorts who stand out as altogether novel.

Generation Three: Suburbs and Survival

By 1950, American Jews had settled down into two competing visions of what Judaism ought to be. Intermarriage between Germans and Russians veiled the divide to some extent, as did the very vastness of the eastern European numbers which overflowed into the German temples, despite their organ music, strange decorum, and other trappings of a liturgy laundered of its traditionalism. But Jews had to join some ``place of worship'' after all, as Eisenhower himself made clear, in a decade that was to rival even the 1830s in its reclamation of religion as a grand American spiritual pastime.

Generation Two: Preserving Peoplehood

What the German founders never did appreciate was the positive pull of peoplehood on the Jewish psyche. How could they? When they arrived here, their claim to belonging was precisely the fact that they were not a people at all; they were a religion. That claim had been implicit in the Enlightenment all along. Even Moses Mendelssohn had known that.

Generation One: The Founders

It helps to have some dates in mind, but dates are arbitrary. Dating by decades is at least convenient, however, starting with our own and looking backward. Also helpful is the Bible's generational calculus. There too we find ``generations,'' the generation of the flood, as the Rabbis put it, or the generation of the dispersion, meaning those who lived at history's putative beginning, touched forever after by their failure to erect a Tower of Babel. Assume that both are myths; there never was a Noah (though there may have been a flood), and there is no Tower of Babel.

From Ethnic to Spiritual: A Tale of Four Generations

by Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman

From the Synagogue 2000 Library

Our long-term goal is the spiritualization of the North American synagogue. Whatever kind of congregation we attend, whatever our movement or ideological allegiance, we all have this in common: we are on a Jewish quest for a better tomorrow, and to judge by all the evidence, we are a generation in search of the spiritual.

In Search of a Spiritual Home

Lawrence A. Hoffman

From Reform Judaism, Fall 1994
Reprinted with permission.

From Continuity to Renewal

by Donna Berman


From New Menorah, Fall 1995
Reprinted With Permission.