Perhaps there’s something in the air in the Middle East, something that elevates spirituality. The Middle East, particularly Israel, is the legendary home of spiritual searching, of prophecy and religious expression. And in this historical birthplace of monotheism – of Judaism and its daughter religions, Christianity and Islam – religious vitality is as vibrant today as ever.
Although traditional forms of religious practice dominate throughout the Middle East, not everyone finds their spiritual needs satisfied by these practices. To some, traditional religious practices just don’t feel genuine. Yearning for authenticity and meaning in their religious lives, they are left frustrated.
We live in what has been called an “age of authenticity,” where the pervasive background belief maintains that individuals have their own particular way of being human - and of seeking transcendence - to which they can be true or untrue.
In Jews in The Age Of Authenticity: Jewish Spiritual Renewal In Israel
(Peter Lang, 2016, Rachel Werczberger
examined two Israeli communities of spiritual seekers in Israel. Under the guidance of charismatic leadership, these communities tried to effect Jewish spiritual renewal by integrating Jewish tradition – especially Kabbalah and Hasidism – with New Age spirituality. Seeking authenticity, the two communities tried to construct a new Jewish spiritual identity with re-invented rituals. This is their story.
Renee Garfinkel is a clinical psychologist, writer, and Middle East commentator for The Armstrong Williams Show. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @embracingwisdom