American synagogues, if not all contemporary Jewish institutions, are challenged. Their significance to today’s Jews, membership structures, approach (if any) to spirituality, and financial sustainability are all in question. Those of us in Jewish communal leadership roles are constantly invited to meetings and consultations to try to address these issues. In trying to not merely respond to the challenge but also innovate with an eye for the future, a growing body of literature has arisen, documenting some of the creative ways in which communities are reinventing themselves. Revolution of Jewish Spirit: How to Revive Ruakh in Your Spiritual Life, Transform Your Synagogue & Inspire Your Jewish Community is a wonderful addition to this literature. Over the course of its pages, the authors, a rabbi and a congregant, describe their personal journeys, interwoven with the journey of the community they serve as leaders, Shirat Hayam in Swampscott, MA. Their approach includes the ideas of initiatives such as Synaplex and Synagogue 3000, along with new ideas the community itself has generated. In this work, Rabbi HaLevi and Ms. Frankel show how the added value of ruakh has been a game changer for their congregation. They describe risks they have taken and obstacles they have faced and overcome to build their remarkable synagogue. And they made me eager for an opportunity to visit and learn from their community.
Revolution of Jewish Spirit
Rabbi Arnold D. Samlan is a Jewish educator and rabbi living in Miami, Florida. He serves as executive director of the Orloff Central Agency for Jewish Education of Broward County.
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