A Spiritual Life: A Jewish Feminist Journey

A Spiritual Life: A Jewish Feminist Journey

by Merle Feld
     
 

A unique memoir that interweaves poetry, narrative, meditation, and social history, A Spiritual Life explores the complex facets of a Jewish woman's spiritual coming-of-age, capturing the emotional and spiritual reality of contemporary Jews as well as religious seekers of all types. From the experiences of early childhood, to the spiritual awakening of a secular… See more details below

Overview

A unique memoir that interweaves poetry, narrative, meditation, and social history, A Spiritual Life explores the complex facets of a Jewish woman's spiritual coming-of-age, capturing the emotional and spiritual reality of contemporary Jews as well as religious seekers of all types. From the experiences of early childhood, to the spiritual awakening of a secular adolescent encountering Jewish tradition, to the alternately funny and searing tales of newfound independence, early married life, young motherhood, and midlife, Feld comments with honesty and clarity on the many stages of spiritual and artistic exploration and growth. Overarching all these accounts is the picture of how the cycle of the Jewish calendar year comes to provide an ever-renewing source of sustenance for the author's deepening spiritual expression.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This book about Jewish feminist spirituality is written with the strong yet soft voice of a committed participant in the whole spectrum of Jewish life: the family, the holidays, and the rituals. Feld was a willing partner to her husband, a rabbi at college campus Hillel chapters, including many years at Princeton University's chapter. Her role gave her the opportunity to partake wholly in Jewish life, to bond with young students at the university, and to form strong ties with diverse neighbors. These experiences find a voice in Feld's prose and in her poetry; the work included in this volume provides an intimate expression of her spiritual and social commitments. It encompasses her feelings about family life, the spiritual and ritual cycle of the Jewish year, a year spent in Israel, and the friends and students she and her husband have mentored. This New Age outpouring of feminine spirituality, expressed through the filter of a sensitive and talented writer, is appropriate for collections that feature these interests.--Idelle Rudman, Touro Coll. Lib., Brooklyn, NY
Booknews
Feld, an award-winning playwright and poet, weaves a memoir from poetry, narrative, meditation, and social history, exploring the complex facets of a Jewish woman's coming of age. She captures the emotional and spiritual reality of contemporary Jews as well as religious seekers of all types. Overarching accounts of life transitions is a vision of the Jewish calendar year as a source of sustenance for the author's deepening spiritual expression. No index. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
From the Publisher
"This is a book full of heart and intelligence, rich with humor and emotion, no punches pulled. Honoring the past, it turns our faces finally toward a future—hopefully—of change and growth in Jewish life." —Alicia Ostriker, author, Nakedness of the Fathers and The Little Space: Selected and New Poems

"Merle Feld captures the feelings, frustrations, and hopes of a generation of American Jewish women, and her words will forever be the anthem, the emblem, of the late-twentieth-century Jewish feminist movement."— Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, editor and translator of Out of the Depths I Call to You: A Book of Prayers for the Married Jewish Woman

"This book cannot be pigeonholed—it evokes recognition and assent in relation to the complex experiences of being a child, being a child dealing with aging parents, being a friend and a lover, being a mother, being a (Jewish) woman at the end of the twentieth century, being a human being seeking a spiritual life. In describing her effort to live a spiritually meaningful life and to find spirituality in everyday experience, Feld names experiences shared by many women, yet seldom fully articulated, or articulated this clearly and well." — Judith Plaskow, author of Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective

"You stop by Merle's house one morning. You have a cup of coffee with her at the kitchen table. She tells you a few of her stories. You look at your watch: it's late afternoon. Or, she brings out a poem she just finished. Your eyes fill with tears; it's Yom Kippur. Stories and poetry so captivating, powerful, wise, you will never be the same. An extraordinary achievement!" — Lawrence Kushner, author of Invisible Lines of Connection

"Merle Feld speaks honestly about the lives of all women in this deep and penetrating volume. A Spiritual Life is a delight to the mind and the heart." — Sharon Strassfeld, author of Everything I Know and coeditor of The Second Jewish Catalog: Sources and Resources

"Feld breaks new ground in spiritual autobiography—locating spiritual growth in the daily life of a daughter, wife, mother, and friend. Her distinctive voice is characterized by a simplicity and honest humility that makes the profundity of her insights all the more startling. She has a gift for making that which may seem esoteric, accessible; and that which may seem ordinary or mundane, transcendent. This book is one of a kind." — Gail Twersky Reimer, Director,Jewish Women's Archive, and coeditor of Reading Ruth: Contemporary Women Reclaim a Sacred Story

"Interweaving poems with personal reflections, Merle Feld takes the reader on a spiritual journey through well-known paths not often associated with the sacred. In search of a meaningful Jewish self-identity, she draws on her own experiences as wife, mother, and Jewishly-committed feminist, transforming everyday events into occasions for spontaneous prayer. Feld's honest, sometimes irreverent poems are witty, wise, and religiously insightful. Worthy of a wide audience, this book should be of particular interest to feminist theologians and historians; to Jewish women who, like Feld, struggle to find their place in the Jewish world; and to anyone seeking new paths towards the holy." — Ellen Umansky, coeditor of Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality: A Sourcebook

"Feld gives voice to a generation of American Jewish women." — Rabbi Jane Litman, coeditor of Lifecycles Vol. 2: Jewish Women on Biblical Themes in Contemporary Life

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780791441176
Publisher:
State University of New York Press
Publication date:
03/01/1999
Series:
SUNY series in Modern Jewish Literature and Culture Series
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
6.31(w) x 9.33(h) x 0.95(d)

What People are saying about this

Ellen Umansky
Interweaving poems with personal reflections, Merle Feld takes the reader on a spiritual journey through well-known paths not often associated with the sacred. In search of a meaningful Jewish self-identity, she draws on her own experiences as wife, mother, and Jewishly-committed feminist, transforming everyday events into occasions for spontaneous prayer. Feld's honest, sometimes irreverent poems are witty, wise, and religiously insightful. Worthy of a wide audience, this book should be of particular interest to feminist theologians and historians; to Jewish women who, like Feld, struggle to find their place in the Jewish world; and to anyone seeking new paths toward the holy.
— Co-Editor, Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality: A Sourcebook
Judith Plaskow
[In describing her] effort to live a spiritually meaningful life...Feld names experiences shared by many women, yet seldom fully articulated, or articulated this clearly and well.

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