Book List: Jewish Spirituality

Image: Two old books, open and stacked. (Photo: Woman1907 / Pixabay)

A rabbi friend and I were talking about good books about Jewish spirituality. Here’s my list – do you have any books to add? If so, I would love to hear about them in the comments.

The Sabbath, by Abraham Joshua Heschel. This book is the best I know of for learning about the spiritual richness of Shabbat.

Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar, by Alan Morinis. Mussar is about personal development, and it has seen a revival in recent years.

Jewish Meditation by Aryeh Kaplan. Meditation is a universal practice, but Kaplan writes about some specifically Jewish approaches to the art.

One God Clapping by Alan Lew. Rabbi Lew was both a Conservative rabbi and a credentialed Buddhist teacher. This is his account of his spiritual journey from American Judaism to Buddhism and back again.

Eyes Remade for Wonder by Lawrence Kushner. This is a collection of Rabbi Kushner’s writings; I could easily add many of his books to this list.

Wise Aging: Living with Joy, Resilience, and Spirit, by Rachel Cowan and Linda Thal. Granted, this book addresses the challenges of aging, but it advocates spiritual growth for wise aging, and points the way.

Nurture the WOW: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting, by Danya Ruttenberg. Another life-stage focused work on spirituality by a rabbi living in the thick of it.

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

8 thoughts on “Book List: Jewish Spirituality”

  1. Among the books specifically about 12 Step Recovery and Judaism, my #1 recommendation is Recovery, the 12 Steps and Jewish Spirituality by Rabbi Paul Steinberg (Jewish Lights).

    1. Thank you! That fills a real gap in the list. I’m going to publish a Part 2 list in a couple of days and that will be on it, for sure.

  2. Good morning, Rabbi Adar. Below are the books I’d recommend. sending blessings to you and your family, jen

    To Begin Again, Rabbi Naomi Levy
    The Path of Blessing, Rabbi Marcia Prager
    The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness, Rabbi Rami Shapiro
    Honey from the Rock, Rabbi Lawrence Kushner

  3. I can give you several of ny favorites. For me, they have been life/mind-changing. Not sure if they qualify as “spiritual” for you. They sure do for me.

    1. British Rabbi Joseph Hertz. “Sayings of the Fathers or Pirke Aboth”. Behrman House, 1945.
    Hertz’ footnotes make the book, of course, written as World War II was ending.

    2. E.M. Broner, with Naomi Nimrod. “The Women’s Haggadah”. HarperCollins Pub., 1994.

    3. Robert Alter. “The Art of Biblical Narrative”. Basic Books, 1981.

    4. David H. Aaron. “Etched in Stone: The Emergence of the Decalogue”. T&T Clark/Continuum, 2006.

    Ten or 15 years ago, David Aaron provided all the essays for the Online “Ten Minutes of Torah” on a book of Torah. I have never forgotten my exhilaration as I read & savored his literary methods applied to the analysis of Torah.

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