Non­fic­tion

Rev­o­lu­tion of Jew­ish Spirit

Rab­bi Baruch HaLe­vi and Ellen Frankel
  • Review
By – February 28, 2013

Amer­i­can syn­a­gogues, if not all con­tem­po­rary Jew­ish insti­tu­tions, are chal­lenged. Their sig­nif­i­cance to today’s Jews, mem­ber­ship struc­tures, approach (if any) to spir­i­tu­al­i­ty, and finan­cial sus­tain­abil­i­ty are all in ques­tion. Those of us in Jew­ish com­mu­nal lead­er­ship roles are con­stant­ly invit­ed to meet­ings and con­sul­ta­tions to try to address these issues. In try­ing to not mere­ly respond to the chal­lenge but also inno­vate with an eye for the future, a grow­ing body of lit­er­a­ture has arisen, doc­u­ment­ing some of the cre­ative ways in which com­mu­ni­ties are rein­vent­ing them­selves. Rev­o­lu­tion of Jew­ish Spir­it: How to Revive Ruakh in Your Spir­i­tu­al Life, Trans­form Your Syn­a­gogue & Inspire Your Jew­ish Com­mu­ni­ty is a won­der­ful addi­tion to this lit­er­a­ture. Over the course of its pages, the authors, a rab­bi and a con­gre­gant, describe their per­son­al jour­neys, inter­wo­ven with the jour­ney of the com­mu­ni­ty they serve as lead­ers, Shi­rat Hayam in Swamp­scott, MA. Their approach includes the ideas of ini­tia­tives such as Synaplex and Syn­a­gogue 3000, along with new ideas the com­mu­ni­ty itself has gen­er­at­ed. In this work, Rab­bi HaLe­vi and Ms. Frankel show how the added val­ue of ruakh has been a game chang­er for their con­gre­ga­tion. They describe risks they have tak­en and obsta­cles they have faced and over­come to build their remark­able syn­a­gogue. And they made me eager for an oppor­tu­ni­ty to vis­it and learn from their community.

Rab­bi Arnold D. Sam­lan is a Jew­ish edu­ca­tor and rab­bi liv­ing in Mia­mi, Flori­da. He serves as exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Orloff Cen­tral Agency for Jew­ish Edu­ca­tion of Broward County.

Discussion Questions