"Many people will be surprised," writes Melinda Ribner, in the introduction to "New Age Judaism," "to find that Judaism is fundamentally aligned with what we think of today as the New Age." Well, yes, we're surprised. Isn't Judaism among the world's oldest religions? Doesn't it place an unusual emphasis on the Word, the Law, and the interpretation and re-interpretation of religious texts, to be a religion at its core based upon tradition and divine law?

But sure enough, Ribner proves her case, mostly by using the Jewish mystics and the Kabbalah. She goes on to argue that rabbis are not taught to be "spiritual teachers, counselors and healers." When she was in yeshiva years ago, she was told not to heed her "intense spiritual yearning and desire for mystical experience."The result, she claims, is that thousands of modern Jews are "spiritually deprived." This collection of meditations is supposed to help heal them. What's most strange about it, though, is just how similar Ribner's book is to almost every other New Age manual; aside from a few Hebrew words scattered through the text, it's not quite clear what all this has to do with Judaism any more.

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