A Spiritual Life

Exploring the Heart and Jewish Tradition, Revised Edition

By Merle Feld

Subjects: Poetry
Series: SUNY series in Modern Jewish Literature and Culture
Paperback : 9780791471883, 341 pages, August 2007
Paperback : 9780791441183, 274 pages, March 2000
Hardcover : 9780791441176, 274 pages, March 1999
Hardcover : 9780791471876, 341 pages, August 2007

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Table of contents


1 . Beginnings

2 . Beginning Again

3 . The Necessity of Poetry in My Life

4 . Report from the Trenches

5 . Passion

6 . Yizkor

7 . Israel

8 . Repairing the World: The Work of Tikkun Olam

9 . Daily Prayer

10 . We All Stood Together

11 . Brigadoon, a Place for Dreams to Grow

12 . Readers' and Writers' Guide

Index of Poems
Literary Sources
About the Author

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.

Merle Feld is a writer, educator, and activist whose prose and poetry, including her signature poem about women and men at Sinai, "We All Stood Together," can be found in numerous anthologies and prayer books. Her memoir, A Spiritual Life, has been translated into Russian and enjoys a wide audience across the former Soviet Union; a Hebrew translation is forthcoming. Merle's theatre credits include the award-winning plays Across the Jordan, published by Syracuse University Press in the anthology Making a Scene, and The Gates Are Closing, performed by hundreds of congregations worldwide. A popular scholar in residence, Merle has taught frequently at synagogues, college campuses, and adult learning institutes. She has pioneered teaching writing as a spiritual practice, and since 2005 has served as Founding Director of the Rabbinic Writing Institute, guiding rabbis-in-training across the denominations to develop a personal writing practice through which to explore their own spiritual lives and to more effectively serve as spiritual leaders.


"…a classic of Jewish feminist spirituality … This book provokes soul-searching. In a time when skepticism is enjoying a revival, and books that make a mockery of religions and their adherents fly off the shelves, Feld's uninhibited quest for spirit combined with her engagement with Jewish tradition promises to fill a certain literary void. And her insistence on authenticity in the embrance of that tradition calls on the reader to rise to the challenge of an honest, courageous spiritual life in a culture so increasingly ambivalent about matters of the heart." — Lilith

"Reading Feld, you burst out laughing one minute and wipe away tears the next. Mostly, we recognize ourselves—the messy, complex, uncertain yet precious threads which make up the fabric of our lives ... Feld offers an attention, a connection to one another and to tradition that values the present and the eternal." — The Jewish Times"Rarely have I enjoyed the intellectual pleasure I experienced when reading Merle Feld's A Spiritual Life. An inspiration to all of us to take seriously the imperative that the spiritual and the ethical must be intertwined." — Susannah Heschel, editor of On Being a Jewish Feminist: A Reader

"Stories and poetry so captivating, powerful, wise, you will never be the same. An extraordinary achievement!" — Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, author of Kabbalah: A Love Story

"This book cannot be pigeonholed … finding spirituality in the everyday, Feld names experiences shared by many women, yet seldom fully articulated, or articulated this clearly and well." — Judith Plaskow, author of Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective

"Merle Feld has written a wonderfully moving tribute to the multifaceted nature of the human soul. Her poems and stories touch something deep within me." — Blu Greenberg, author of On Women and Judaism: A View from Tradition

"Down-to-earth, honest, courageous … One traverses the years by her side and is moved as she comes to realize that everything is poetry, that the magic of life lies in its minutia, in the supermarket, in underwear. 'Don't forget,' she implores, 'we were all at Mount Sinai together.'" — Hadassah Magazine

"This readers' guide is a feast for widely diverse book groups with its wonderfully provocative questions that inspire deep reflection and heart-to-heart sharing." — Rachel Jacobsohn, Founder, Association of Book Group Readers and Leaders