Judaism Disrupted: A Spiritual Manifesto for the 21st Century
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About the Author
Michael Strassfeld grew up in a Modern Orthodox home. He received a BA and MA in Jewish Studies from Brandeis. After college, he became a member of Havurat Shalom, an intentional community, and was one of the editors of the Jewish Catalog (1973) that sold over 300,000 copies.
He edited the Second and Third Jewish Catalogs (1975,1979), authored The Jewish Holidays (1985), co-authored A Night of Questions: A Passover Haggadah (1999), and authored A Book of Life: Embracing Judaism as a Spiritual Practice (2002). He recorded Songs to Open the Heart: Contemplative Niggunim (2003). He edits a free weekly newsletter about Judaism (subscribe at michaelstrassfeld.com).
He graduated the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College at the age of 41 and served as the rabbi of Congregation Ansche Chesed and then of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism (both in Manhattan) until his retirement in 2015. He was a faculty member of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality (1999-2014). He is married and lives in Manhattan.
"I can't remember the last time I felt pulled to underline a book constantly as I was reading it, but Judaism Disrupted is exactly that intellectual, spiritual and personal adventure. You will find yourself nodding, wrestling, and hoping to hold on to so many of its ideas and challenges. Rabbi Strassfeld reframes a Torah that demands breakage, reimagination, and ownership. Not only did I learn so much from Strassfeld's 11 principles; I was changed by them."
-Abigail Pogrebin, author, My Jewish Year; 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew
"Judaism Disrupted sketches the foundational principles for a livable, vibrant Judaism, connected to the Jewish past yet open to being perpetually transformed. Strassfeld's open-hearted exploration of his own evolving relationship to Jewish tradition coupled with his rich and concrete discussion of how to root basic principles in ongoing practice makes this a book sure to interest and engage people with many different levels of Jewish knowledge and observance."
-Judith Plaskow, author, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology
"Judaism Disrupted is a book for our times. In it, Michael Strassfeld bares his soul as a lifelong struggler with the value and truth of Jewish existence. It is accessible, personal, but above all deeply honest. There are no hold barred in this bold encounter between a rich, well-informed Judaism and the demands of the present hour."
-Rabbi Arthur Green, author, Radical Judaism: Rethinking God and Tradition and Defender of the Faithful: The Life and Thought of Rabbi Levi Yitshak of Berdychiv
"Michael Strassfeld brings a keen eye to contemporary Jewish life in Judaism Disrupted, honed through spiritual practice, professional experience, and a long engagement in Jewish thought and education. He has distilled his experience of the power and purpose of Jewish life into eleven guiding principles by which we might truly live with freedom, for connection and responsibility to each other; principles to guide spiritual practices meant to cultivate heart and mind to build a loving world. This is a clear-eyed statement of what Jewish life can and should be for a meaningful, livable future, beyond mitzvah to commitment, joy, social-justice, and love."
-Rabbi Jonathan Slater, author, Mindful Jewish Living: Compassionate Practice
"In Judaism Disrupted, Michael Strassfeld once more reveals himself to be one of the most creative and spiritually sensitive teachers of our time. Drawing on his vast knowledge of traditional biblical, rabbinic, and Hasidic texts, and combining it with a keen sociological sensibility and sensitive psychological insights, he weaves a portrait of Jewish tradition that is relevant for our times. Strassfeld keenly understands the blessings of freedom and diversity inherent in Jewish tradition as well as present-day America to craft an aspirational vision of Judaism that speaks to the soul and stirs the mind."
-Rabbi David Ellenson, Chancellor Emeritus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University