By Lauren Winner
2003, Paraclete Press
“It [the book] is, to be blunt, about spiritual practices that Jews do better.”
First drawn to this book for its unusual title, I soon found an intelligent discussion of spiritual practices, some of which I grew up with in a Christian household, and others that were foreign to me.
Lauren Winner converted from Orthodox Judaism to Christianity and this book is a collection of her thoughts and experiences in relation to traditions and practices common to both Judaism and Christianity. In this book she highlights 11 spiritual practices from Judaism that enriches and deepens the faith of those who put these into practice. The practices include prayer, the body, fasting, aging and mourning.
When talking about mourning, she discusses the Jewish "rhythm of mourning" that acknowledges the slow process of bereavement, a spiritual discipline that readers of all faiths would be wise to study.
Kashrut or Kosher is a spiritual practice that Christians do not follow, but Lauren Winner describes what Christians are missing out of because of it. Kashrut, she states, “.. shaped my spiritual life. Keeping kosher transforms eating from mere nutritional necessity into an act of faithfulness.” She does not, however argue for the Christian churches to start to follow the rules of kosher, but instead outlines her efforts to bring thought and intention to her eating.
While spiritual practices have been neglected in churches for a long while, Lauren Winner reminds us that spiritual disciplines do not have to be legalistic, but instead imbue our lives with meaning and enrich our spiritual lives in a way that nothing else can.