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Spiritual Life, A

Exploring the Heart and Jewish Tradition, Revised Edition

Merle Feld

Publication Year: 2007

Includes new and updated material, as well as a readers’ guide with questions for writing and discussion groups. The revised edition of this beloved classic features a readers’ and writers’ guide to facilitate book group conversations and informal adult education, and also offers prompts for personal journaling exploration. Merle Feld’s emotionally powerful prose and highly accessible poetry open the hearts of readers of all ages and religious persuasions who are traveling through the cycle of life and sharing in the search for meaning.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Modern Jewish Literature and Culture


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

When A Spiritual Life was first published in 1999, I began to travel across the country giving readings to promote the book and to develop an audience for it. From Portland, Maine to Palo Alto, California, I was moved beyond measure to see the effect on audiences...

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pp. xiii-xiv

There are a number of people who through their passionate appreciation of my poetry have encouraged me over the years not only to continue to write (that comes as it will, like the rain) but to save, collect, and transfer my words from scraps of paper to word...

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1. Beginnings

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pp. 1-18

A few years ago a Jewish magazine decided to devote an issue to spirituality and asked me to contribute a short piece describing “a spiritual moment.” I thought, a moment is best captured in a poem, I’ll submit a poem. In fact, I submitted not one but two poems, two very...

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2. Beginning Again

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pp. 19-47

Boston 1968. My first image is the Boston Common on a sunny Sunday afternoon overrun by Hare Krishnas. Tambourines, singing, dancing, flowing white robes, multi-colored scarves . . . Seeing Casablanca at the Brattle Theatre . . . Going to hear William Sloan Coffin...

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3. The Necessity of Poetry in My Life

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pp. 49-54

Many words were required to adequately describe the journey I took from a secular childhood in Brooklyn, a childhood perhaps best described as religiously two-dimensional, to the richness, depth, fullness of an adult spirituality. Fewer words...

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4. Report from the Trenches

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pp. 55-84

With a hubris perhaps more characteristic of baby boomers than those of earlier or later generations, I assumed when I finally decided to take the leap of faith that had been urged upon me—to have a child—that I’d get pregnant right away...

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5. Passion

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pp. 85-108

So many kinds of love. When we are courageous we enter each day, each relationship, seeing within it the possibilities for arousal, for devotion, for feelings powerful enough to overwhelm. What a dangerous way to live, to live as a lover...

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6. Yizkor

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pp. 109-137

One of our most important spiritual tasks is to make peace with where we came from, to learn to see clearly the facts of our childhood, our growing up years. Who were those people we lived with, really? We need to make peace with them, to...

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7. Israel

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pp. 139-169

I didn’t want to spend a year in Israel. When the kids were little and it gradually became clear that we weren’t going to be able to send them to Hebrew day school, I had agreed with Eddie that we would do the next best thing for their Jewish education...

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8. Repairing the World:The Work of Tikkun Olam

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pp. 171-202

Living in Israel changed everything. I never imagined how profoundly and in what unexpected ways this sabbatical year would have transformed me. I had never before experienced the relentless intensity of political activism, for all intents and purposes...

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9. Daily Prayer

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pp. 203-239

Over the years I have slowly come to see the need to mediate, to integrate, how I live in the world as an activist, focused on large and complex moral and ethical issues, and how I live day by day, noticing the minutia of life, living in the moment and so being spiritually...

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10. We All Stood Together

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pp. 241-280

Long ago now a dear friend, Rachel Adler, wrote an article for Moment magazine in which she analyzed some of the biblical passages that precede the giving of the Torah: men are enjoined, as part of their spiritual preparation for the encounter with the Divine...

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11.Brigadoon, A Place for Dreams to Grow

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pp. 281-296

This is a story that began as a solitary story, the story of a person coming of age, growing into maturity, seeking meaning, seeking connection. The spiritual journey begins with the self: I need to articulate who I am, as precisely as I am able to see that...

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12. Readers’ and Writers’ Guide

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pp. 297-317

As I remark in the preface to this revised edition, I have observed that encountering the poetry and prose in this book has given readers across the country and around the world the opportunity to explore, articulate and better understand truths about their own lives and stories. I have relished the many...


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pp. 319-321

Index of Poems

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pp. 323-324

Literary Sources

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pp. 325-326

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About the Author

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p. 327

Merle Feld is a widely published poet, award-winning playwright, peace activist, and educator who has pioneered teaching writing as a spiritual practice. Her prose and poetry, including her signature poem about women and men...

E-ISBN-13: 9780791479636
E-ISBN-10: 0791479633
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791471876
Print-ISBN-10: 079147187X

Page Count: 341
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: SUNY series in Modern Jewish Literature and Culture
Series Editor Byline: Sarah Blacher Cohen See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 868030711
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Spiritual Life, A

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Subject Headings

  • Judaism -- United States.
  • Jews -- United States -- Identity.
  • Diaries -- Authorship -- Religious aspects -- Judaism.
  • Feminists -- United States -- Biography.
  • Spiritual life -- Judaism.
  • Jewish religious poetry, American.
  • Feld, Merle, 1947-.
  • Jewish women -- United States -- Biography.
  • Feminism -- Religious aspects -- Judaism.
  • Jewish women -- Religious life -- United States.
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