Meditation from the Heart of Judaism: Today's Teachers Share Their Practices, Techniques, and Faith


This inspiring yet practical introduction to Jewish meditation approaches it in a new way: As a living experience described by today's most experienced Jewish meditators from around the world.

In their own individual voices, 22 masters of meditation-rabbis, scholars, psychologists, teachers-explain why they meditate, how they meditate, and how the meditative experience brings them closer to themselves, to God, to the universe. Equally important are their confessions about ...

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Meditation from the Heart of Judaism: Today's Teachers Share Their Practices, Techniques, and Faith

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This inspiring yet practical introduction to Jewish meditation approaches it in a new way: As a living experience described by today's most experienced Jewish meditators from around the world.

In their own individual voices, 22 masters of meditation-rabbis, scholars, psychologists, teachers-explain why they meditate, how they meditate, and how the meditative experience brings them closer to themselves, to God, to the universe. Equally important are their confessions about obstacles to meditation in their daily life-and how they can be overcome.

Through a detailed compendium of the experts' "Best Practices," editor Avram Davis offers readers practical advice, starting points, and direction for making meditation a source of spiritual energy in their own lives.

Meditation has been practiced for centuries in the Jewish community as a powerful tool to transcend words, personality and ego and directly experience the divine. Meditation is not, as many assume, the sole province of eastern faiths, but also a Jewish spiritual resource for today that can benefit all people.
"Engaging and informative, offering a wonderful introduction to the practice of Jewish meditation."
-Publishers Weekly

"Avram Davis is a pioneer in the new art of teaching Jewish meditation....He has assembled a sparkling catalog of some of its best contemporary teachers. Their many perspectives light up facets of the holy quest for nearness to the One."
-Rodger Kamenetz, author, Stalking Elijah and The Jew in the Lotus

"A treasure trove of wisdom about this important spiritual practice."
-Body Mind Spirit Magazine

"In dozens of beautiful ways this book shows how meditation can bring you home to yourself and God."
-Jack Kornfeld, author of A Path With Heart

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Davis (The Way of the Flame, HarperCollins, 1996) has compiled 22 essays on meditation by Jewish leaders, teachers, and writers such as Lawrence Kushner, Rami Shapiro, Nan Fink, Edward Hoffman, and others. These thinkers discuss issues of interest to the Jewish lay reader: traditional background, meditative approaches and techniques, obstacles to practice, and the importance of attitude. Davis summarizes the basics in the final chapter, noting that because it did not spring from a monastic tradition, the essence of Jewish meditation lies largely in a concern with everyday life. A worthwhile addition to the growing number of books on Jewish spirituality.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580230490
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/1/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Sylvia Boorstein is cofounding teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California, and a senior teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. She lectures nationally on Buddhism and mindfulness, and teaches Vipassana and Metta meditation.

Rabbi Shefa Gold, is director of C-DEEP: The Center for Devotional, Energy and Ecstatic Practice in Jemez Springs, New Mexico. Shefa composes and performs spiritual music, has produced several recordings, and her liturgies have been published in many prayer books. She teaches workshops and retreats on the theory and art of chanting, devotional healing, spiritual community building and meditation around the world. She also trains chant leaders in Kol Zimra, a two-year program for rabbis, cantors and lay leaders. Shefa, who is on the faculty of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, combines her grounding in Judaism with a background in Buddhist, Christian, Islamic and Native American spiritual traditions to make her uniquely qualified as a spiritual bridge celebrating the shared path of devotion. She is author of Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to the Promised Land and In the Fever of Love: An Illumination of the Song of Songs. For more information about Rabbi Shefa Gold, please visit her website at

Rabbi Shefa Gold is available to speak on the following topics:

  • The Magic of Hebrew Chant
  • Ecstatic Meditation
  • The Path of Love
  • Gratefulness as the Foundation of our Spiritual Practice
  • The Power of Intention

Click here to contact the author.

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner is one of the most widely read authors by people of all faiths on Jewish spiritual life. He is the best-selling author of such books as Invisible Lines of Connection: Sacred Stories of the Ordinary; God Was in This Place & I, i Did Not Know: Finding Self, Spirituality and Ultimate Meaning; Honey from the Rock: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism; The Book of Letters: A Mystical Hebrew Alphabet; The Book of Miracles: A Young Person's Guide to Jewish Spiritual Awareness; The Book of Words: Talking Spiritual Life, Living Spiritual Talk; Eyes Remade for Wonder: A Lawrence Kushner Reader; I'm God, You're Not: Observations on Organized Religion and other Disguises of the Ego; Jewish Spirituality: A Brief Introduction for Christians; The River of Light: Jewish Mystical Awareness; The Way Into Jewish Mystical Tradition; and co-author of Because Nothing Looks Like God; How Does God Make Things Happen?; Where Is God?; What Does God Look Like?; and In God's Hands. He is the Emanu-El Scholar at San Francisco's Congregation Emanu-El and an adjunct professor of Jewish mysticism and spirituality at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion.

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner is available to speak on the following topics:

• Jewish Mystical Imagination

• Rymanover's Silent Aleph: What Really Happened on Sinai

• Zohar on Romance and Revelation

• What Makes Kabbalah Kabbalah

• Sacred Stories of the Ordinary: When God Makes a Surprise Appearance in Everyday Life

Click here to contact the author.

Alan Lew is the rabbi of Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco and is at the forefront of the movement to develop new forms of Jewish spiritual expression. His work in the area of using Zen meditation to enhance Jewish spirituality has been highlighted on programs such as ABC News, The MacNeil-Lehrer Report, the PBS news magazine Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, and National Public Radio's All Things Considered. He also serves as moderator of Mosaic, CBS's weekly religious talk show. Lew explores meditation in Jewish contexts, and has conducted workshops and retreats on Jewish meditation throughout the United States and Canada.

Shaul Magid, PhD, is the Jay and Jeannie Schottenstein Professor of Modern Judaism and professor of religious studies at Indiana University Bloomington. He is the author of Hasidism on the Margin: Reconciliation, Antinomianism, and Messianism in Izbica/Radzin Hasidism and From Metaphysics to Midrash: Myth, History, and the Interpretation of Scripture in Lurianic Kabbala, which won the
American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in the Textual Studies category.

Rami Shapiro, a renowned teacher of spirituality across faith traditions and a noted theologian, is a popular speaker on the topics of religion, theology and spirituality. He is author of the award-winning The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice; Recovery—The Sacred Art: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice and Hasidic Tales: Annotated and Explained; among other books.

Rami Shapiro is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Writing—The Sacred Art: Beyond the Page to Spiritual Practice
  • Stop Playing God: 12 Steps as Spiritual Practice
  • Biblical Wisdom for Post-biblical Times: An Exploration of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job
  • The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Cultivating Compassion in Daily Life
  • Hasidic Wisdom: An Exploration of Hasidic Storytelling, Theology and Contemplative Practice
  • Saints and Sages: Biblical Prophets, Ancient Rabbis and the Building of a Just World

Rabbi David Zeller, storyteller, teacher and musician, is a pioneer in Jewish spirituality and transpersonal psychology. He helped establish the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology; the Network of Conscious Judaism; Yakar: Center for Tradition and Creativity; and Shevet: Center for Jewish Spirituality and Meditation. He has produced five recordings of meditative and healing music. He travels extensively throughout the United States and Europe several times each year to teach and perform. Learn more about David Zeller, his stories and his music at

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Heart of Jewish Meditation AVRAM DAVIS The Teaching and Practice of Reb Yerachmiel ben Yisrael RABBI RAMI M SHAPIRO Silencing the Inner Voice(s) RABBI LAWRENCE KUSHNER It Doesn't Matter What You Call It: If It Works, It Works RABBI ALAN LEW Study as Meditation SUSIE SCHNEIDER Keeping God Before Me Always MINDY RIBNER Noble Boredom: How to View Meditation RABBI JONATHAN OMER-MAN Jewish Meditation Today and Its Obstacles AVRAM DAVIS The Hierarchy of Jewish Meditation RABBI ALAN BRILL Opening the Inner Gates EDWARD HOFFMAN A Splendid Way to Live RABBI DAVID ZELLER On Mindfulness SYLVIA BOORSTEIN Meditation as Our Own Jacob's Ladder RABBI STEVE FISDEL MEDITATION FROM THE HEART OF JUDAISM That This Song May Be a Witness: The Power of Chant RABBI SHEFA GOLD Meditating as a Practicing Jew RABBI SHEILA PELTZ WEINBERG Meditation and the Art of Growing Your Neshamah RABBI LAIBL WOLF Healing and Meditation RABBI SHOHAMA WIENER Why Meditate? DANIEL C MATT The Promise of Jewish Meditation RABBI DAVID COOPER Go to Your Self ANDREA COHEN-KIENER Meditation and Women’s Kabbalah RABBI LYNN GOTTLEIB Piety Before Ecstasy SHAUL MAGID Notes from a Beginning Meditation Teacher NAN FINK Best Practices: A Distillation of Techniques and Outlook AVRAM DAVIS Notes Glossary Suggested Readings and Materials About the Editor About Jewish Lights Publishing

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