Rethinking Synagogues: A New Vocabulary for Congregational Life

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Jewish Lights Publishing, 2006 - Religion - 225 pages
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A critical and challenging look at reinventing the synagogue, as the centerpiece of a refashioned Jewish community.

"America is undergoing a spiritual revolution: only the fourth religious awakening in its history. I plead, therefore, for an equally spiritual synagogue, knowing that any North American Jewish community that hopes to be around in a hundred years must have religion at its center, with the synagogue, the religious institution that best fits North American culture, at its very core."
--from Chapter 1

Synagogues are under attack, and for good reasons. But they remain the religious backbone of Jewish continuity, especially in America, the sole Western industrial or post-industrial nation where religion and spirituality continue to grow in importance. To fulfill their mandate for the American future, synagogues need to replace old and tired conversation with a new way of talking about their goals, their challenges and their vision for the future.

In this provocative clarion call for synagogue transformation, Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman summarizes a decade of research with Synagogue 2/3000--a pioneering experiment that reconceptualized synagogue life--providing fresh ways for synagogues to think as they undertake the exciting task of global change.


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User Review  - akoven -

Soso. Nothing too exciting. Would have liked more innovative ideas. Read full review

Selected pages


The Theory in Short
Thinking Spiritually
Telling the Story
Crafting the Vision
Sacred Community
Sacred Culture Sacred System
Synagogues in Context The Larger Picture

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About the author (2006)

Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, PhD, has served for more than three decades as professor of liturgy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. He is a world-renowned liturgist and holder of the Stephen and Barbara Friedman Chair in Liturgy, Worship and Ritual. His work combines research in Jewish ritual, worship and spirituality with a passion for the spiritual renewal of contemporary Judaism.He has written and edited many books, including All the World: Universalism, Particularism and the High Holy Days; May God Remember: Memory and Memorializing in Judaism--Yizkor, We Have Sinned: Sin and Confession in Judaism--Ashamnu and Al Chet , Who by Fire, Who by Water--Un'taneh Tokef and All These Vows--Kol Nidre, the first five volumes in the Prayers of Awe series; the My People's Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries series, winner of the National Jewish Book Award; and he is coeditor of My People's Passover Haggadah: Traditional Texts, Modern Commentaries (all Jewish Lights), a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.Rabbi Hoffman is a developer of Synagogue 3000, a transdenominational project designed to envision and implement the ideal synagogue of the spirit for the twenty-first century.Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, PhD, is available to speak on the following topics: A Day of Wine and Moses: The Passover Haggadah and the Seder You Have Always Wanted Preparing for the High Holy Days: How to Appreciate the Liturgy of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur The Essence of Jewish Prayer: The Prayer Book in Context and Worship in Our Time Beyond Ethnicity: The Coming Project for North American Jewish Identity Synagogue Change: Transforming Synagogues as Spiritual and Moral Centers for the Twenty-First CenturyClick here to contact the author.

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