Judaism Disrupted: A Spiritual Manifesto for the 21st Century
by Rabbi Michael Strassfeld
Ben Yehuda Press

"The purpose of Judaism is to help us live our lives to the utmost."

Author Strassfeld believes that all those who feel an association with Judaism, whether through traditional orthodox practice or more modern liberal interpretations, can find deeper understanding by examining the religion in a broader context. Recognizing an uncertain future for religious practices, he calls for a “new Judaism.” Strassfeld emphasizes that it is not possible for Jews to follow their own laws rather than those of their chosen country but may still observe God’s commandments as they seek to create meaningful lives. An example is “Minhag America,” which allows liberalism in many areas, such as the role of women. Central characteristics of Judaism include helping others, with stress on freedom for all. One can choose daily prayer rituals, involve oneself in issues of social justice, and reflect on faith through awareness of spiritual holidays. Environmental awareness, empathy for and charity towards others, and inner consultation with and about God are also ways to perpetuate Jewish principles. One can even write one’s own Torah as a personal guide and a legacy to future generations.

The author’s rich background lends authority to his text. His study and practice of Judaism began in early childhood, but his viewpoint developed as he delved deeper while in university. He joined the Havurat Shalom community, which combines both prayerful devotion and community outreach. He edited three versions of the Jewish Catalog and has authored other relevant works. His purpose in offering this “manifesto” is clear: to aid his fellow religionists in designing and adhering to a faith-based life that does not reject but rather incorporates traditional scriptural history and values. Strassfeld’s diligently researched work can provide thought-provoking focus in group settings and fodder for study for anyone with a sense of Jewish connection seeking intelligent guidance. His book offers an intriguing perspective on the practice of an ancient faith.

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