Cover image for A time for every purpose under heaven : the Jewish life-spiral as a spiritual path
A time for every purpose under heaven : the Jewish life-spiral as a spiritual path
Waskow, Arthur Ocean, 1933-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.
Physical Description:
xlii, 260 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BM700 .W37 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A new book that celebrates the Jewish life-spiral, fusing ancient teachings of the Bible and rabbis with new rituals for the twenty-first century More than twenty years ago, Arthur Ocean Waskow published a book, Seasons of Our Joy, that followed the flow of Jewish festivals through the year. It became a classic. Now, in A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven, Rabbi Waskow and his wife, Phyllis Ocean Berman, have brought us a book for the other great cycle of Jewish life--from birth to death. They have woven handbook and history, spiritual guide and their own personal experience, ancient ceremonies and those brought forward by Jewish women today, into the single pattern of a well-lived life--a unity. The book moves from a new "covenant of washing"--the ritual act of parents washing a newborn daughter's feet to celebrate her arrival--to an examination of how k'tubot, or marriage contracts, could be revised to affirm the commitments partners today need to make with each other, to ceremonies that celebrate the transformations of midlife, to enriching the rituals of grief in order to walk mourners through their own next spiral in the path of their lives. A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven will resonate both with observant Jews looking to broaden their experience of their fath and with those who are looking for new ways to reconnect with Judaism and make it a vital part of their lives again.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The authors present their book as both a spiritual handbook and a spiritual history with four purposes, which are (1) to help those who are facing a particular life-cycle moment to shape its celebration in a way that honors Jewish tradition; (2) to help those who are about to attend someone else's celebration to understand what is going on, both the visible practices and the reasons behind them; (3) to give a sense of the history of these ceremonies, how they have changed over the millennia of Jewish history, and how they still are changing; and (4) to show that these are not merely one-shot ceremonial moments, but that they fit together and that they help and strengthen people in walking a continuing spiritual path. This book will guide and enlighten Jews seeking to better understand their faith and to make it an indispensable part of their lives. --George Cohen

Publisher's Weekly Review

Waskow and Berman, leaders of the Jewish renewal movement, infuse this spiritual handbook with an eco-feminist perspective that celebrates gender and biology, an earthiness absent from much of "word-focused... Rabbinic Judaism." Ceremonies and rituals don't just mark a specific occasion, they say; these transformative moments present "sacred possibilities" for self- and communal revelation, creating a rhythmic Jewish pathway they call a "life-spiral." Besides the traditional birth-marriage-death configuration, Waskow and Berman expand the conventional boundaries of life-cycle rituals to include weaning, menstruation, adult bat mitzvah, divorce, intimate friendships, mentoring relationships and more. Their innovative suggestions, culled from historic precedent and newly minted explorations, range from a "Jewish driver's license" to mark the path of growing up, to a "seder of womanhood" to celebrate midlife. They examine the nuanced depth of the most trivialized of American Jewish ceremonies the bar mitzvah explaining why the Torah reading is "the volcanically hot heart of the ordeal." Though unmistakably New Age in its approach, the book gives each ceremony a solid grounding in history, Bible, rabbinics and Jewish law, and reflects a sensitivity to contemporary issues from gay relationships to intermarriage. Readers do not have to agree with all the authors' ideas to be intrigued by the fascinating integration of Judaism and contemporary life. For anyone trying to mark a stage of life, Waskow and Berman show that apparently isolated moments together move a whole life forward so that each of us can fulfill God's ancient commandment to Abraham: "Walk forth into yourself." (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved