A Touch of the Sacred: A Theologian's Informal Guide to Jewish Belief

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Jewish Lights Publishing, 2007 - Religion - 228 pages
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Powerful, soul-strengthening musings from the leading theologian of liberal Judaism.

"Too often, books on religion are written either primarily for the head or for the heart--as if thinking people don't also feel intuitively, and spiritual types never think much at all. Bosh! Here is our special mix for you.... It is our hope that these pieces will serve as unique windows into Judaism--in bite-size, sacred 'touches'."

--from the Introduction

For the first time, Dr. Eugene Borowitz, the "dean" of liberal Jewish theologians, opens his heart as well as his mind as he talks about the mix of faith and doubt, of knowing and not-knowing--the elements of Jewish belief--in an easily accessible style.

In these pages, Borowitz shares with you his rich inner life, which draws from both the rational and mystical Jewish thought that have inspired two generations of rabbis, cantors, and educators, and will now inspire you. With him, you will explore:

  • Seeking the Sacred One
  • Doing Holy Deeds
  • Creating Sacred Community
  • Reading Sacred Texts
  • Thinking about Holiness
  • Learning from Holy Thinkers
  • and much, much more...
 

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Contents

Part Part
3
Doing Holy Deeds
33
A New Phase in Jewish Piety
53
The Power of Creating New Religious Customs
57
Fanaticism and Zeal
61
Who Is a Mentsh?
65
Creating Sacred Community
69
A Mystical Model for Leaders
71
Yesterday and Today
139
Thinking about Holiness
145
Why Do We Need Theology?
147
Theology as an Afterthought
151
Why Historical Theology Wont Do
154
Jewish GodTalks Four Criteria
158
The BrainHeart Interplay in Faith
161
Four Ways to Understand God Says
165

How an Agnostic Community Came to Seek Spirituality
74
The Appeal of Transdenominational Judaism
79
A Conflict over Interfaith Dialogue
83
How Liberal and Orthodox Jews Can Coexist
88
The Special Risk of Liberalizing Judaism
91
An Autobiographical Note
95
The Historical Case for Interfaith Dialogue
99
Building a Community of GodFearers
103
Reading Sacred Texts
107
Letting the Psalms Speak to You
109
Reliving the Sinai Experience Each Year
114
Weighing the Texts That Instruct Us
118
Putting Texts in Context
122
Religious Authority in Judaism
126
Integrating Jewish Law and Jewish Ethics
131
Jewish Decision Making
135
Clarifying Some Feminist Ideas
168
Jewish Beliefs about Evil
172
The Messianic Hope Today
176
Life after Death
180
Learning from Holy Thinkers
185
Why I Am a Theologian Rather than a Philosopher
187
Seven People Who Shaped Modern Jewish Thought
191
Rationalist Thinkers and What They Can Teach Us
196
Two Misunderstood Messages of Martin Buber
200
Ethnicity in Modern Judaism
204
The Greatest Contemporary Orthodox Jewish Philosopher
208
The Ethics Mystery and Abraham Joshua Heschel
213
An Autobiographical Note
218
Glossary
222
Bibliography of Titles Mentioned in This Book
228
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About the author (2007)

Eugene Borowitz is considered the most original and influential Reform Jewish thinker today. A Reform rabbi and professor at Columbia University and the Hebrew Union College in New York, he is the founder and editor of Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility, a publication that promotes open discussion of controversial topics from all Judaic perspectives. Borowitz rejects the notion that Judaism is based on a heteronomous tradition or Jewish law; instead, he stresses the importance of autonomous choice and personal faith. Borowitz claims that a covenantal relationship with God forms the core of Reform Jewish theology and ethics.

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