Spiritual book club FAQs

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Q: Who was Reb Zalman?

A: Reb Zalman Shachter-Shalomi, ztz"l, was the "zaydie" of Jewish Renewal. It is in his lineage that Rabbi David received his semicha/rabbinic ordination. Here is an extensive remembrance to give you an idea of his wide-ranging life.

Q: What type of books will we be reading?

A: This series will offer us a multivocal introduction to Jewish Renewal from the mouths of its teachers and practitioners. Our first selection was Jewish with Feeling, by Reb Zalman himself, and our current (December-January) selection is The Path of Blessing by R'Marcia Prager.

Future selections may include Jewish Renewal by R'Michael Lerner, Seasons of Our Joy: A Creative Guide to the Jewish Holidays, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, and Roots in Heaven by R'Tirzah Firestone, as well as other titles by Reb Zalman.

Q: What are we reading for?

A: The books we read will serve to not only understand the plurality of expression that is Jewish Renewal, but also to help us understand our own relationship with Judaism as a spiritual practice and how to make this all a bit more ours.

Q: Does it matter if I don’t have time to read the whole book?

A: Read according to your interest. If you have the time to read the whole book, that’s great! If not, that’s totally okay too. We suggest scanning the table of contents and choosing a couple of chapters that appeal to you. 

Q: Are there particular questions or ideas I should have in mind as I read?

A: Note the places that elicited a reaction from you, whether that was an excited “must underline” feeling or an aversive “scratch that noise” one. Also note when you think something like, “I didn’t know ‘Judaism’ said that,” or “that doesn’t sound Jewish.”

Q: Where can I find a copy of the book?

A: There are copies available in the Minuteman network of local libraries, and you can also find used copies on alibris for very low prices.

Q: Where and when will we be meeting? How frequently will we meet?

A: We will be meeting in Cambridge/Somerville on a (roughly) monthly basis on Sunday evenings. Email us for the current month’s meeting location.

Q: How can I get updates about each month’s selection and discussion location?

A: Contact us to be added to our email list.

Q: Does it matter if I miss a meeting?

A: This is not a closed group! You are welcome to dip in as your time and interest allows. We will be asking for who’s in month-to-month, so we know what to plan for, space-wise.

Q: I haven’t been to an Asiyah event before. Is this for me?

A: Absolutely! Our goal is to offer different points of contact and interest to meet different styles and personalities. No prior knowledge or contact needed.