Shma Journal's April Issue: Cultivating a Spiritual Intensity

Judith Margolis - Aliyah/Going Up
In response to the Jewish Art Salon's call for images the Shma Journal this April features mixed-media work of Judith Margolis and Mirta Kupferminc at its online art exhibition

In addition Judith Margolis wrote (p.10-11) about how a particular drawing accompanied her through a painful time of grief. And how art continues to serves as both a witness and a guide, in her wrestling with religious observance and faith.

Mirta Kupferminc - In Front of the Aleph

This month, Sh'ma focuses on the many different meanings of spirituality. Rabbi Arthur Green, rector of the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College, opens up the issue with a powerful call for spiritual engagement that seeks to update the tropes of Hasidism — where the focus of attention is on the personal encounter with the divine. Several rabbinical seminary heads — as well as other rabbis and spiritual leaders — respond to his call and raise their own questions and challenges: How spiritual practice works without a commanding God, and whether such exercises are serious — perhaps even narcissistic — are among the questions explored. In these next pages, mysticism, a farm, the Shabbat dinner table, a painter's canvas, and FaceTime, all play a role in this conversation.

  • Arthur Green: The question is not: "Do you believe that God created the world, and when?" but rather: "Do you experience God creating the world each day, encountering a divine presence in the natural world around you?" Such a religious experience also asks: "What does that encounter call upon you to do?"

  • Tzemah Yoreh: I am an apikores (a heretic) in the learned tradition of Ecclesiastes, Elisha ben Abuyah, and Baruch Spinoza. I am a scholar of Jewish texts, yet constantly doubting. I have my place in traditional Judaism, a place with which I am content, and it is not a spiritual place.

  • Deborah Waxman: We ask rabbis to serve as meaning makers, spiritual guides, and accompaniers on Jewish journeys. They must find and communicate conceptualizations of the divine that nourish them. And they must also be able to engage with seekers who will be sustained by other God ideas, or none at all.

  • Yisroel Bass: Faith is an exercise in not being preoccupied with ourselves, and many of the tasks around the farm, and the mitzvos associated with them, force us to put our own needs and egos aside. We feed the animals before ourselves, and though we may have showered already for Shabbos, we roll up our sleeves to get the shmura wheat put away safely before nightfall.

  • Join the discussion on cultivating spirituality on the daily S Blog, which features posts from some of today's top Jewish thought leaders. 

    Highlights from this month's S Blog:

    • Jon Leener & Avram Mlotek write about bringing spirituality into the street, where they will offer fresh food, a welcoming face, and a listening presence as part of their weekly communal service.

    • Jared Gimbel writes about a spiritual awakening that one finds upon visiting a new country.

    • Alon Ferency wonders if we've created "Swiss Cheese Judaism," where so many individualized, customized pockets of Jewish life exist that very few of our experiences overlap.
    • Lauren Henderson tells the story of the experience that brought her back to Judaism — a visit to Campus Crusade for Christ — with a friend.

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