Healing and the Jewish Imagination: Spiritual and Practical Perspectives on Judaism and Health


Where Judaism and health intersect, healing may begin.

Essential reading for people interested in the Jewish healing, spirituality and spiritual direction movements, this groundbreaking volume explores the Jewish tradition for comfort in times of illness and Judaism’s perspectives on the inevitable suffering with which we live.

Pushing the boundaries of Jewish knowledge, scholars, teachers, artists and ...

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Healing and the Jewish Imagination: Spiritual and Practical Perspectives on Judaism and Health

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Where Judaism and health intersect, healing may begin.

Essential reading for people interested in the Jewish healing, spirituality and spiritual direction movements, this groundbreaking volume explores the Jewish tradition for comfort in times of illness and Judaism’s perspectives on the inevitable suffering with which we live.

Pushing the boundaries of Jewish knowledge, scholars, teachers, artists and activists examine the aspects of our mortality and the important distinctions between curing and healing. Topics discussed include:

  • The Importance of the Individual
  • Health and Healing among the Mystics
  • Hope and the Hebrew Bible
  • From Disability to Enablement
  • Overcoming Stigma
  • Jewish Bioethics

Drawing from literature, personal experience, and the foundational texts of Judaism, these celebrated thinkers show us that healing is an idea that can both soften us so that we are open to inspiration as well as toughen us—like good scar tissue—in order to live with the consequences of being human.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

If you are looking for a compassionate how-to for healing, this academic exploration of Jewish texts isn't it. In a ponderous introduction that distinguishes between healing and curing, Cutter, director of the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, says outright that "these pages are intended to be more scholarly than restorative." Essays treat the intersections of literature, philosophy, mysticism, Bible, history, biography, science and contemporary society, and are primarily penned by scholars, teachers, artists and activists who are not involved in hands-on clinical or spiritual aspects of the work. Tamara Green's essay on her personal search for answers to the questions her own illness provoked: "Could I be spiritually healed even if I never got better physically; and if I was not to be cured, what did Adonai [God] expect of me?" Her interpretation of the shattered tablets in the Ark of the Covenant and each individual's responsibility to bring about the repair of the world are beautiful nuggets buried amid pages of academic discourse. But those willing to plow through will find that, as Green concludes, "spiritual healing may be possible, even if we cannot be made whole again." (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580233736
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/1/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,057,169
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Rabbi William Cutter, PhD, is author of Healing and the Jewish Imagination: Spiritual and Practical Perspectives on Judaism and Health; Midrash and Medicine: Healing Body and Soul in the Jewish Interpretive Tradition, and is editor of Healing and the Jewish Imagination: Spiritual Perspectives on Judaism and Health. He has published widely on health and healing. He is former director of the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and professor of modern Hebrew literature and the Steinberg Professor of Human Relations at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion.

Rabbi William Cutter, PhD, is available to speak on the following topics:

• What Is a "Reform" Way to Look at Social Issues

• What Do We Mean When We Speak about Narratives and Ethics?

• Therapoetics: Meanings for Spirituality through Reading Poems

• The Creation of Poetry: Is Every Person a Poet Waiting to Emerge?

• Biblical Themes in Modern Hebrew Poetry: The Schools of Amichai, Zelda and Zach

Click here to contact the author.

Rachel Adler, PhD, is professor of Modern Jewish Thought and Feminist Studies at Hebrew Union College Los Angeles. She is the author of Engendering Judaism:
An Inclusive Theology and Ethics
and many articles on feminist approaches to
Jewish theology and Halacha.

Arnold Eisen, PhD, is the Daniel E. Koshland Professor of Jewish Culture and
Religion at Stanford University and chancellor-elect of the Jewish Theological
Seminary of America. He is the author of numerous books and articles in the area of modern Jewish thought and practice and has long worked with synagogues and federations around the country in the effort to revitalize Jewish communities and find new meaning for Jewish texts and observances. Currently he is at work on a book entitled Rethinking Zionism. Eisen is married to Adriane Leveen, another contributor to this volume, and is the father of Shulie (twenty) and Nathaniel

Tamara Eskenazi, PhD, is professor of Bible at Hebrew Union College–Jewish
Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. She is a reknowned popular lecturer and publishes her scholarly work in numerous journals and periodicals. She is currently working on a women's commentary to the Torah and has conducted some of her most important research on the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Eitan Fishbane, PhD, a frequent scholar-in-residence and guest speaker at congregations across North America, is assistant professor of Jewish thought at The Jewish Theological Seminary; author of As Light Before Dawn: The Inner World of a Medieval Kabbalist (Stanford University Press); and co-editor of Jewish Mysticism and the Spiritual Life: Classical Texts, Contemporary Reflections (Jewish Lights).

Eitan Fishbane is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Shabbat
  • Prayer
  • Spirituality
  • God and Theology
  • Mysticism
  • Ethics
  • Torah

Arthur Green, PhD, is recognized as one of the world's preeminent authorities on Jewish thought and spirituality. He is the Irving Brudnick professor of philosophy and religion at Hebrew College and rector of the Rabbinical School, which he founded in 2004. Professor emeritus at Brandeis University, he also taught at the University of Pennsylvania and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, where he served as dean and president.

Dr. Green is author of several books including Ehyeh: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow; Seek My Face: A Jewish Mystical Theology; Your Word Is Fire: The Hasidic Masters on Contemplative Prayer; and Tormented Master: The Life and Spiritual Quest of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav (all Jewish Lights). He is also author of Radical Judaism (Yale University Press) and co-editor of Speaking Torah: Spiritual Teachings from around the Maggid's Table. He is long associated with the Havurah movement and a neo-Hasidic approach to Judaism.

Tamara M. Green, PhD, was a founding member of the Jewish Healing Center and has written extensively about "being sick and being Jewish." In her secular life, she is professor of Classics and chair of the Department of Classical and
Oriental Studies at Hunter College.

Rabbi Peter Knobel, PhD, is rabbi of Temple Beth Emet—the Free Synagogue in
Evanston, Illinois, and holds a PhD in Bible from Yale University. He has chaired numerous major commissions of the Reform Movement and is prominent as both a rabbinic leader and a scholar. He is especially interested in applying Jewish ethical principles to the life of the Jewish community. Most recently he chaired the liturgy committee of the Reform Movement as it produced its newest Siddur,
Mishkan Tefillah

Adriane Leveen, MSW, PhD, has taught at Hebrew Union College–Jewish
Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, and at Stanford University as a senior lecturer in the Hebrew Bible in the Department of Religious Studies. She will soon be teaching at HUC-JIR in New York. Dr. Leveen has published in Prooftexts, and the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament and is a contributor to a forthcoming volume, Women's Torah Commentary, sponsored by Women of Reform
Judaism. Dr. Leveen’s book Memory and Tradition in the Book of Numbers will be published by Cambridge University Press.

Dr. Louis E. Newman is the John M. and Elizabeth W. Musser Professor of Religious Studies at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. He is author of Past Imperatives: Studies in the History and Theory of Jewish Ethics; An Introduction to Jewish Ethics; and the LifeLights™ pastoral care booklet Doing Teshuvah: Undoing Mistakes, Repairing Relationships and Finding Inner Peace (Jewish Lights). Dr. Newman is available for scholar-in-residence weekends and repentance workshops.

Dr. Louis Newman is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Repentance: It's Easier Than You Think, It's Harder Than You Imagine
  • Curses and Stumbling-blocks: How to Relate to the Vulnerable among Us
  • Judaism and Politics: Is Torah Liberal or Conservative?
  • Whistle-blowing: Am I My Brother's (and Sister's) Keeper?
  • The Narrative and the Normative: The Value of Stories for Jewish Ethics

Rabbi David B. Ruderman, PhD, is the Joseph Meyerhoff Professor of Modern
Jewish History and Ella Darivoff Director of the Center for Advanced Judaic
Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He has taught at the University of
Maryland (1974–1983) and Yale University (1983–1994). He is the author of many books and articles, and recently won the Koret Award for the best book in
Jewish History in 2001, Jewish Enlightenment in an English Key. He is the immediate past president of the American Academy for Jewish Research. In 2001, the
National Foundation for Jewish Culture honored him with its lifetime achievement award for his work in Jewish history.

David I. Schulman, JD, is a pioneer in the field of HIV law and policy and in the Jewish health and healing movement. In 1981 he was one of the founders of the Jewish Hospice Commission of Los Angeles. In 1986 he became the world's first government AIDS discrimination attorney. In the late 1980s he served on Reform Judaism’s national AIDS Committee. He is an advisor to the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health, and is the supervising attorney of the AIDS/HIV Discrimination Unit in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office. B.A., Stanford 1973, J.D., U.C.L.A. School of Law 1978.

Dr. Howard Silverman, MD, MS, is a clinical professor of family and community medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine–Phoenix and a clinical professor of biomedical informatics at Arizona State University, and formerly served as the education director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. With five years experience in designing distance education programs for physicians and medical students, he is the Initiative's project leader. Through Temple Chai of Scottsdale, Arizona’s Shalom Center, Dr. Silverman developed two programs for Jewish health care professionals to help them integrate their clinical and spiritual lives. The program resulted in increased Jewish communal participation, increased job satisfaction, and reduced feelings of burnout by participants.

Albert J. Winn's (MA) photographs are in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, the Jewish Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts (Houston), and the International Center of Photography, and he has shown nationally and internationally. He has received fellowships from the NEA/WestAF and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and his work has been published in the Jewish Quarterly Review, Zeek, ZYZZYVA, and on FreshYarn.com. He lives in Los Angeles.

Rabbi Elliott N. Dorff, PhD, is the author of many important books, including The Way Into Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World), a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, and The Jewish Approach to Repairing the World (Tikkun Olam): A Brief Introduction for Christians. An active voice in contemporary interfaith dialogue, he is Rector and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the American Jewish University (formerly the University of Judaism), and chair of the Academy of Judaic, Christian and Muslim Studies.

Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff, PhD, is available to speak on the following topics:

• Jewish Medical Ethics

• Conservative Judaism

• Jewish and American Law

• Finding God in Prayer

• A Jewish Approach to Poverty

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii Introduction: The Intersection of Judaism and Health 1 Healing and Curing William Cutter 3 A Physician's Reflection on the Jewish Healing Movement Howard Silverman 11 1. The Importance of the Individual in Jewish Thought and Writing 13 Choose Life: American Jews and the Quest for Healing Arnold Eisen 15 Literature and the Tragic Vision William Cutter 42 2. Health and Healing among the Mystics 49 Mystical Sources of the Healing Movement Arthur Green 51 Wisdom, Balance, Healing: Reflections on Mind and Body in an Early Hasidic Text Eitan P. Fishbane 63 3. Hope and the Hebrew Bible 75 Reading the Bible as a Healing Text Tamara Eskenazi 77 "Call Me Bitterness": Individual Responses to Despair Adriane Leveen 95 v 4. From Disability to Enablement 105 Judaism and the Disabled: The Need for a Copernican Revolution Elliot Dorff 107 Misheberach and the ADA: A Response to Elliot Dorff Tamara M. Green 121 5. Overcoming Stigma 131 Spoiled Identity and the Search for Holiness: Stigma, Death, and the Jewish Community David I. Shulman 133 Those Who Turn Away Their Faces: Tzaraat and Stigma Rachel Adler 142 The New Man, Illness, and Healing Albert J. Winn 160 6. Jewish Bioethics in Story and Law 169 An Expanded Approach to Jewish Bioethics: A Liberal/Aggadic Approach Peter Knobel 171 The Narrative and the Normative: The Value of Stories for Jewish Ethics Louis E. Newman 183 Conclusion: Looking Back, Moving Forward 193 The History of Invention: Doctors, Medicine, and Jewish Culture David B. Ruderman 195 Notes 207

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