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The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle -
"'Shwer Tzu zine a yid,' our parent's generation used to say: it's hard to be a Jew. But we Jews living today are so lucky," writes Rabbi Zal man Schachter-Shalomi. "Being Jewish is safer now than at any other time in history."
But that still doesn't mean it is easy. "Our challenge today," he continues is to be Jewish in a way that fills our lives with meaning. We want to be Jewish with awareness, 'to do Jewish' in a way that satisfies our souls. We want our Yiddishkeit to enrich the world in which we live."
Rabbi Michael Strassfeld, who became famous as one of the co- authors of "The ]ewish Catalgue" in the 1970s,takes a more handbook type of tone in his "A Book of Life: Embracing ]udaism as a Spiritual Practice." This was published in hardcover by Schocken Books in 2002, but is soon to be released in paperback by Jewish Lights ($19.99).
The book resembles many, other introduction-to-Judaism books in covering personal behavior, holidays, and so forth. But his goal is similar to Schachter-Shalomi's.
"Rituals should not be observed because we are 'supposed to' observe them, but rather because they help us achieve the real goal: awareness," he writes. "A spiritual practice of Judaism strives for awareness of the moment, every moment, helping us to live life to the fullest."
"Doing Jewish with awareness" certainly includes intellectual awareness as well as sensual or spiritual awareness.